Corsica ( ; Corsican and Italian: Corsica) is an island in
Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast
of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia.
one of the 26 régions of
France, although strictly speaking Corsica is designated
as a "territorial
collectivity" (collectivité territoriale) by
As a territorial collectivity, it enjoys greater powers
than other French régions
, but for the most part its
status is quite similar. Corsica is referred to as a "région" in
common speech, and is almost always listed among the other
of France. Although the island is separated from the
continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is much closer to the Italian than to the
French mainland, politically
Corsica is part of Metropolitan
It was once briefly an independent Corsican Republic
, until being
incorporated into France in 1768.
Corsica is famed as the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte
. His ancestral home,
, is located
Corsica has been occupied continuously since the Mesolithic
age. It acquired an indigenous population that
was influential in the Mediterranean during its long prehistory. After a brief colonization by the ancient Greeks
and an only slightly longer occupation by the Etruscans it was preempted by the Roman Republic and became with Sardinia a province of the Roman Empire.
After the fall of the
empire it was invaded by a number of short-lived powers before
being rescued by the March of
. As a medieval state speaking a Romance language
it became an object of
contention between the Republic of
and the Republic of
possession of the island in 1347, and governed it until 1729 -
interrupted only by a brief occupation by forces of a Franco-Ottoman alliance
Invasion of Corsica
In Corsica, vendetta
was a social code that
required Corsicans to kill anyone who wronged the family honor. It
has been estimated that between 1683 and 1715, nearly 30,000 out of
120,000 Corsicans lost their lives to vendetta.
In 1729 the Corsican Revolution
began. After 26 years of
struggle the independent Corsican
was formed in 1755 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli
and remained sovereign until
1768. The first Corsican
was written in Italian
(the language of culture in Corsica
until the end of the 19th century) by Paoli. He proclaimed that
Italian was the official language
The Corsican Republic was unable to eject the Genoese from the
major coastal cities. In 1764 Corsica was purchased secretly by
France from the Republic of Genoa
After an announcement and brief civil war in 1768-69, Corsica was
incorporated into France in 1770, marking the end of Corsican
sovereignty. However, national feelings still run high.
Corsica was formed as an island through volcanic explosions.
is long at longest, wide at widest, has of coastline, more than 200
beaches, and is very mountainous, with Monte Cinto as the highest peak at and 20 other summits of more
Mountains comprise two-thirds of the island, forming
a single chain. Forest comprises 20% of the island. Approximately
of the total surface area of are dedicated to nature reserves
Régional de Corse
), mainly in the interior.
is from Tuscany in Italy and from the
d'Azur in France.
separated from Sardinia to the south by the
Bonifacio, a minimum of wide.
In 2005 the population of Corsica was settled in approximately 360
Corsica contains the GR20
, one of Europe's most
famous hiking trails
Zones by altitude
The island is divided into three major ecological zones by
altitude. Below is the coastal zone, which features a Mediterranean climate
, with hot, dry
summers and mild, rainy winters. The natural vegetation is
Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and shrubs. The coastal lowlands
are part of the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic sclerophyllous and mixed
, in which
forests and woodlands of evergreen
predominate, chiefly Holm Oak (Quercus
and Cork Oak (Quercus
. Much of the coastal lowlands have been cleared for
, grazing and logging, which
have reduced the forests considerably.
There is considerable birdlife in Corsica. In some cases Corsica is
a delimited part of the species range. For example, the subspecies
of Hooded Crow
, Corvus cornix
in Corsica, but no further south.
From is a temperate montane zone
mountains are cooler and wetter, and home to the Corsican montane
broadleaf and mixed forests
ecoregion, which supports diverse
forests of oak
broadleaf deciduous trees, with vegetation more typical of northern
Europe. The population lives predominantly below , with only
shepherds and hikers at .
From is a high alpine zone. Vegetation is sparse. In spite of the
southern location, the highest elevations are snow-capped with
small glaciers. This zone is uninhabited.
Zones by region
Parc Naturel Régional de Corse
The island has a natural park (Parc
Naturel Régional de Corse, Parcu di Corsica
), which protects
thousands of rare animal and plant species. The park was created
in 1972 and includes the Golfe de Porto, the Scandola
Nature Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and some of the
highest mountains on the island.
This park is protected and
cannot be reached on foot, but people can gain access by boat. Two
endangered subspecies of hoofed mammals, the mouflon (Ovis aries musimon)
and Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus
inhabit the island; the Corsican red deer is
Corsica, like all the other Mediterranean islands, was home to
indigenous animals of the Pleistocene
some endemic to it and some to it and Sardinia
(as Sardinia was joined to Corsica for
much of the Pleistocene). After the proliferation of man in the
, these began to disappear,
partly from extinction of the species, and partly from eradication
only from Corsica. Blaming the extinctions on Mesolithic man is now
known to be in error, as many survived well into historical
The totally extinct species are Cynotherium sardous
corsicanus, Prolagus sardus
insularis and Athene
angelis. Birds were especially hard-hit.
Some that were eradicated from the vicinity are Haliaeetos albicilla
and Aquila heliaca
The food of Corsica can best be defined as a fusion of the French
cuisines, due to its close
geographical positions with the two countries. Popular foods such
meats and sheep's milk cheeses can be found. Each region within the
island has its own take on recipes. In the mountains, wild meat
like boar, rabbit, and trout from the many rivers offer variety
according to the seasons.
capital of Corsica is Ajaccio (Corsican: Aiacciu).
Map of Corsica
body is the Corsican Assembly
territorial collectivity is divided in two département: Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse.
These two départements
created on September 15
by splitting the hitherto united
Recent attempts to gain greater autonomy for the territorial
collectivity of Corsica have failed. A local referendum held in
2003, aimed at disbanding the départements
only the territorial collectivity with extended powers, was voted
down by a narrow margin.
Corsica is the least economically developed region in Metropolitan France
. Tourism plays a big
part in the Corsican economy. The island's climate, mountains and
coastlines make it popular among tourists. The island has not had
the same level of intensive development as other parts of the
Mediterranean and is thus mainly unspoiled. Tourism is particularly
concentrated in the area around Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio in the
south of the island and Calvi in the northwest.
In 1584 the governor of Genua
ordered all farmers and landowners to plant four trees yearly,
including a chestnut
tree (plus an olive
- and mulberry
-tree). Many communities owe their origin
and former richness to the ensuing chestnut woods. Chestnut bread
keeps fresh for as long as two weeks. Corsica produces gourmet
cheese, wine, sausages, and honey for sale in mainland France and
for export. Corsican honey, of which there are six official
varietals, is certified as to its origin (Appellation d'origine
) by the French National Institute of Origin and
Corsica has 232 kilometres (144 mi) of narrow-gauge railway.
line runs between Bastia and Ajaccio and there is a branch line from Ponte-Leccia to Calvi.
are operated by Chemins de fer
There is also a third line along the east coast that is no longer
in use due to heavy damage during World War II. There has been talk
of restoring it but as yet nothing has happened.
Corsica is currently governed almost as any other région
of France, as explained in
the introduction. There are several movements on the island calling
for some degree of Corsican autonomy
from France, or even full independence
Generally speaking, autonomist proposals focus on the promotion of
the Corsican language
, more power
for local governments, and some exemptions from national taxes
in addition to those already applying to
The French government is opposed to full independence, but has at
times shown support for some level of autonomy. There is support on
the island for proposals of greater autonomy, but polls show that a
large majority of Corsicans are opposed to full independence.
Some groups who claim to support Corsican independence, such as the
Front of Corsica
, have carried out a violent campaign since the
1970s that includes bombings
, usually targeting buildings and
officials representing the French government or Corsicans
themselves for political reasons. A war between two rival
independence groups led to several deaths in the 1990s.
peaceful occupation of a pied-noir vineyard in Aléria in 1975
marked a turning point when the French government responded with
overwhelming force, generating sympathy for the independence groups
among the Corsican population.
However, events such as the
murder of préfet Claude Erignac
on February 6
was arrested five years
later) have only served to convince many in Corsica, as well as in
the French government and the general French public, that Corsican
nationalists cannot be trusted with more autonomy.
the independence groups are known to practice extortion and other intimidatory tactics, not dissimilar from
mafia activity in Sicily
and southern Italy.
The influence of Pisa in Corsica can
be seen in the Romanesque-Pisan style of the Church of Aregno
Non-Corsican homeowners may be threatened with the destruction of
their home, which can be avoided only through paying a ransom.
Journalists writing articles critical of the armed groups have
sometimes been threatened. Prosecutions are made difficult by a
pervasive "law of silence" (see Omertà
It is sometimes suggested that such behavior could be directly
related to longstanding cultural traditions of banditry in the
rugged interior of the island.
In 2000, Prime Minister
agreed to grant
increased autonomy to Corsica. The proposed autonomy for Corsica
would have included greater protection for the Corsican language
(Corsu), the island's
traditional language (which is similar to Italian
), whose practice and teaching, like
other regional or minority languages
, had in the past been discouraged. According to the
classification, the Corsican language is currently in danger of
becoming extinct. However, plans for increased autonomy were
opposed by the Gaullist opposition in the
French National Assembly,
who feared that they would lead to calls for autonomy from other
régions (such as Brittany,
Alsace or Rousillon), eventually threatening France's unity
as a country.
In a referendum
, a narrow majority of Corsican
voters opposed a project from the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin
and then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy
that would have suppressed
the two départements
of the island and granted greater
autonomy to the territorial collectivity of Corsica.
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- " Corsica". Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th edition.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix,
GlobalTwitcher.com, ed, N. Stromberg
- The Chestnut Tree in terracorsa.
- The Grocer's Encyclopedia - Encyclopedia of
Foods and Beverages. By Artemas Ward. New York. 1911.
- Loughlin, John. 1989. "Regionalism and Ethnic Nationalism in
France: A Case-study of Corsica". Thesis. San Domenico, Italy:
European University Institute.
- Loughlin, John, and Claude Olivesi (eds.). 1999. Autonomies
insulaires: vers une politique de différence pour la Corse.
Ajaccio: Editions Albiana. ISBN 2905124474
- Saul, John Ralston. 1992. Voltaire's Bastards: The
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