The Canaanites settled in the region about 2000 BCE. They were the main inhabitants until about 1200 B.C. The Book of Joshua says that the Israelites conquered Canaan. However, archaeology and the Bible suggest that the Israelites only gradually became the area's main people. Archaeology also suggests that many Canaanite cities were destroyed by the Sea Peoples, or Philistines, in the 1100s BCE. The Sea Peoples may have sailed to Canaan from the area around the Aegean Sea.
The Canaanites were a Semitic people related to the Phoenicians, Amorites, Assyrians and Israelites. The Canaanites had a developed civilization. Their main political group was the city-state. In a city-state, a king ruled a city or town and the villages and land around it. The Bible mentions a number of Canaanite tribes.