With such a huge and varied population, the Roman Empire needed to import tremendous amounts of grain. For the production of this grain, the emperor turned to the fertile North Aftrican provinces, from the borders of Egypt to the Atlantic coast. The principal crops were olives and cereals, and both were widely exported.
Roman Africa had great advantages with regards to its ability to be defended as well as its abundance. Its long land frontier was less threatened by foreign enemies and demanded considerably fewer troops. In spite of this, it was well protected by a system of forts and military roads for protection from nomadic raiders.
North Africa was a rich and fruitful area of the Roman Empire. The great cities in that region lay mostly in the old Carthaginian lands of the east. Thysdrus (El Djem) and Lepcis Magna were prosperous oil producers, but the greatest of all African cities was Carthage.