The Barbary pirates operated out of Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers and ports in Morocco, preying on shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea from the time of the Crusades until the early 19th century. Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa that became known as the Barbary Coast. The name apparently derives from Barbarossa, which means red beard, and was the nickname of Khair ad Din, who in 1510 seized Algiers on the pretext of defending it from the Spaniards and became a well-known corsair, as well as a regent for the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
The pirates' constant attacks on United States shipping in the early 1800s prompted the building of the United States Navy, including one of America's most famous ships, the USS Constitution. American efforts in putting down the pirates won the young nation much respect.
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