Its name reflects the fact that the original settlement was built from the remains of wrecked Genoan ship (corabia is the Romanian language term for "sailing ship, specifically used for "galley"). It became a great port in the 1880s.
Under the communist regime, Corabia developed as a considerable manufacturing town, with a sugar mill, furniture factory, tannery, a fiber manufacturing plant, and various other facilities. However, in more recent times the town's population has dwindled. Many inhabitants have migrated to larger towns in the wake of the closure of many of Corabia's factories.
Corabia is still one of the central spots of Olt County; the town administers two villages, Tudor Vladimirescu and Vârtopu. The town houses a football club, several shops and bars, the remains of the Roman castrumSucidava, dating back to the Roman period and featuring the "Secret Fountain" (an unusual piece of engineering); the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral (one of the largest buildings of its kind in Romania), as well a monumental statue in the middle of the town square commemorating the use of Corabia's facilities in the initial attack during the Romanian War of Independence. Corabia also has an important archaeological museum with, inter alia, a remarkable collection of Roman pottery. From the town harbour one can make trips along the Danube, with stops at the nearby Băloi Island.