|Region of France|
|• President||Paul Giacobbi (PRG)|
|• Total||8,680 km2 (3,350 sq mi)|
|Population (Jan. 2013)|
|• Density||37/km2 (96/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|ISO 3166 code||FR-H|
|GDP (2012)||Ranked 24th|
|Total||€8.17 billion (US$10.5 bn)|
|Per capita||€25,523 (US$32,827)|
Corsica (//; French: Corse [kɔʁs]; Corsican and Italian: Corsica) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the Italian island of Sardinia. Mountains make up two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain.
Corsica is one of the 27 régions of France, although it is designated as a territorial collectivity (collectivité territoriale) by law. As a territorial collectivity, Corsica enjoys some greater powers than other French régions but is referred to as a région in common speech and is almost always listed among them. Although the island is separated from the continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is closer to Italy than to the French mainland, politically Corsica is part of Metropolitan France.
Corsica is split into two departments, Haute-Corse (Upper Corsica) and Corse-du-Sud (Southern Corsica), with its regional capital in Ajaccio, the prefecture city of Corse-du-Sud. Bastia, the prefecture city of Haute-Corse, is the second-largest settlement in Corsica.
After rule from the Republic of Genoa starting in 1282, Corsica was briefly an independent Corsican Republic from 1755 until its conquest by France in 1769. Corsica's culture contains both French and Italian elements, and its constitution while a Republic was written in Italian. The native Corsican language is recognised as a regional language by the French government.
The French emperor Napoléon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in the Corsican capital of Ajaccio. His ancestral home, Casa Buonaparte, is today used as a museum. The northern town of Calvi claims to be the birthplace of the explorer Christopher Columbus.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Ecology
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Culture
- 6 Administration
- 7 Economy
- 8 Transport
- 9 Politics
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 External links
The origin of the name Corsica is subject to much debate and remains a mystery. To the Ancient Greeks it was known as Kalliste, Corsis, Cyrnos, Cernealis, or Cirné. The latter Greek names are based on the Phoenician word for 'peninsula' (kir).
After a brief occupation by the Carthaginians, colonization by the ancient Greeks, and an only slightly longer occupation by the Etruscans, it was incorporated by the Roman Republic at the end of the First Punic War and, with Sardinia, became a province of the Roman Empire.
In the 5th century, the Western half of the Roman Empire collapsed, and the island was invaded by the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Lombards and the Saracens. Pepin the Short, king of the Franks and Charlemagne's father, expelled the invaders and granted Corsica to Pope Stephen II. This was the starting point of the temporal power of the Papacy.
The Genoese had major political influence over Corsica from 1282 but formally annexed the island in 1347, and governed it until 1729 – interrupted only by a brief occupation by forces of a Franco-Ottoman alliance in the Invasion of Corsica (1553). The Barbary pirates from North Africa frequently attacked Corsica, resulting in many Genoese towers being erected.
In 1729 the Corsican Revolution for independence began. After 26 years of struggle against the Republic of Genoa, the independent Corsican Republic was formed in 1755 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli and remained sovereign until 1769 when it was conquered by France. The first Corsican Constitution 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 of Corsica.
The Corsican Republic was unable to eject the Genoese from the major coastal bodies. Following French losses in the Seven Years' War, Corsica was purchased by France from the Republic of Genoa in 1764. After an announcement and brief war in 1768–69 Corsican resistance was largely ended at the Battle of Ponte Novu. Despite triggering the Corsican Crisis in Britain, whose government gave secret aid, no foreign military support came for the Corsicans. Corsica was incorporated into France in 1770, marking the end of Corsican sovereignty. However, nationalist feelings still ran high.
Following the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Pasquale Paoli was able to return to Corsica from exile in Britain. In 1794 he invited British forces under Lord Hood to intervene to free Corsica from French rule. Anglo-Corsican forces drove the French from the island and established an Anglo-Corsican Kingdom. Following Spain's entry into the war the British decided to withdraw from Corsica in 1796. Corsica then returned to French rule.
In 1814, near the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the island was briefly occupied again by British troops. The Treaty of Bastia gave the British crown sovereignty over the island, but it was later repudiated by Lord Castlereagh who insisted that the island should be returned to a restored French monarchy.
After the collapse of France to the German Wehrmacht in 1940, Corsica came under the rule of the Vichy French regime, which was collaborating with the Nazis. In November 1942 the island was occupied by Italian and German forces because of the Anglo-American Landings in North Africa. Following the Italian armistice in September 1943, Italian and Free French Forces pushed the Germans out of the island, making of Corsica the first French Department to be freed. Subsequently, the US military established there 17 airfields, nicknamed "USS Corsica", which served as bases for American tactical bomber groups attacking targets in German-occupied Italy.
Between the late fifties and the seventies, the project of building a nuclear polygon in the mines of Argentella, the immigration of 18,000 former settlers from Algeria ("pieds-noirs") in the eastern plains, and the continuing chemical pollution (Fanghi Rossi) coming from mainland Italy, rose the tensions between the autochthonous inhabitants and the French government. This tensions escalated until the armed assault of the police to a pieds-noirs owned wine cellar in Aleria on 23 August 1975, occupied by Corsican nationalists. This happening marked the beginning of the armed struggle of the Nationalists against the French government. Ever since, Corsican nationalism has been a feature of the island's politics, with calls for greater autonomy and protection for Corsican culture and the Corsican language, and flares of raids and killings, culminated with the assassination of Prefect Claude Érignac in 1998.
In 2013, Corsica hosted the first three stages of the 100th Tour de France, which passed through the island for the first time in the event's 110-year history.
Corsica was formed approximately 250 million years ago with the uplift of a granite backbone on the western side. About 50 million years ago sedimentary rock was pressed against this granite, forming the schists of the eastern side. It is the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, a "mountain in the sea".
It is 183 kilometres (114 mi) long at longest, 83 kilometres (52 mi) wide at widest, has 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) of coastline, more than 200 beaches, and is very mountainous, with Monte Cinto as the highest peak at 2,706 metres (8,878 ft) and 20 other summits of more than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Mountains comprise two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain. Forests make up 20% of the island.
Approximately 3,500 km2 (1,400 sq mi) of the total surface area of 8,680 km2 (3,350 sq mi) is dedicated to nature reserves (Parc naturel régional de Corse), mainly in the interior. Corsica contains the GR20, one of Europe's most notable hiking trails.
The island is 90 kilometres (56 mi) from Tuscany in Italy and 170 kilometres (110 mi) from the Côte d'Azur in France. It is separated from Sardinia to the south by the Strait of Bonifacio, a minimum of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) wide.
In 2005 the population of Corsica was settled in approximately 360 communities.
|Climate data for Ajaccio, central-western part of island|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.6
|Average low °C (°F)||3.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)||73.8
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||8.9||8.7||8.3||7.2||5.7||2.8||1.3||2.4||4.3||7.3||8.6||9.1||74.6|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||133.3||145.0||189.1||225.0||282.1||321.0||365.8||331.7||264.0||210.8||150.0||127.1||2,744.9|
|Source: Hong Kong Observatory|
|Climate data for Bastia, north-eastern part of island|
|Average high °C (°F)||13.6
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.1
|Average low °C (°F)||5.1
|Precipitation mm (inches)||67
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||134||158||192||214||268||296||345||304||232||176||133||128||2,580|
|Source: Quid 2004, page 618 and Météo-France, data for 1981–2010|
|Native name: Corsica
Nickname: L’Île de Beauté
The Isle of Beauty
Topography of Corsica
|Area||8,680 km2 (3,350 sq mi)|
|Length||184 km (114.3 mi)|
|Width||83 km (51.6 mi)|
|Coastline||1,000 km (600 mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,706 m (8,878 ft)|
|Highest point||Monte Cinto|
|Largest city||Ajaccio (pop. 63,723)|
|Population||322,120 (as of January 2013)|
|Density||37 /km2 (96 /sq mi)|
Zones by altitude
The island is divided into three major ecological zones by altitude. Below 600 metres (2,000 ft) 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 forests ecoregion, in which forests and woodlands of evergreen sclerophyll oaks predominate, chiefly Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) and Cork Oak (Quercus suber). Much of the coastal lowlands have been cleared for agriculture, 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 ssp cornix occurs in Corsica, but no further south.
From 600 to 1,800 metres (2,000 to 5,900 ft) is a temperate montane zone. The mountains are cooler and wetter, and home to the Corsican montane broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion, which supports diverse forests of oak, pine, and broadleaf deciduous trees, with vegetation more typical of northern Europe. The population lives predominantly below 900 metres (3,000 ft), with only shepherds and hikers at 600 to 900 metres (2,000 to 3,000 ft).
From 1,800 to 2,700 metres (5,900 to 8,900 ft) is a high alpine zone. Vegetation is sparse. This zone is uninhabited.
Zones by region
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Parc Naturel Régional de Corse
The island has a natural park (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, Parcu di Corsica), which protects 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. Scandola cannot be reached on foot, but people can gain access by boat from the village of Galéria and Porto (Ota). Two endangered subspecies of hoofed mammals, the mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) and Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) inhabit the park. The Corsican red deer was re-introduced after it was extinct due to overhunting. This Corsican subspecies was the same that survived on Sardinia, so it's endemic. There are other species endemic to Corsica especially in the upper mountain ranges, i.e. Corsican Nuthatch, Corsican Fire Salamander and Corsican Brook Salamander and many plant subspecies.
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 humans in the Mesolithic, these began to disappear, partly from extinction of the species, and partly from eradication only in Corsica. However, it is now known that many species managed to survive the Mesolithic, and many were still present well into recorded history.
The totally extinct species are Cynotherium sardous, Megaloceros cazioti, Asoriculus corsicanus, Talpa tyrrhenica, Prolagus sardus, Tyrrhenicola henseli, Rhagamys orthodon, Bubo insularis and Athene angelis. Birds were especially hard-hit. Some that were eradicated from the vicinity are Haliaeetos albicilla and Aquila heliaca.
Corsica has a population of 322,120 inhabitants (Jan. 2013 estimate).
In the 1999 census, 87.1% of the population of Corsica were of French nationality while 10% (26,018) had been born outside of France. The majority of immigrants were from the Maghreb region, particularly Moroccans (41.9% of immigrants) but also Italians (18.7%) and Portuguese (12.3%).
|Census||Born in Corsica||Born in
|Born in foreign
countries with French
citizenship at birth¹
|from the Maghreb3||from Southern Europe4||from the rest of the world|
|from the Maghreb3||from Southern Europe4||from the rest of the world|
|¹Essentially Pieds-Noirs who resettled in Corsica after the independence of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, many of whom had Corsican ancestry.
²An immigrant is by French definition a person born in a foreign country and who didn't have French citizenship at birth. Note that an immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still listed as an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants.
3Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria
4Portugal, Italy, Spain
Corsica is one of the few regions of France that retains its own language in everyday usage: Corsican, which is more closely related to Italian than to French. However, since its takeover by France in the 18th century, French has dominated the media and commerce, and today it is estimated that only 10% of Corsica's population speak Corsican natively, with only 50% having some sort of proficiency in Corsican. Some linguists classify the Corsican language as belonging to the Italo-Dalmatian language group, while others classify it as a Southern Romance group language separate from the Italo-Dalmatian group.
From the mountains to the plains and sea, many ingredients play a role. Game such as wild boar (Cingale, Singhjari) is popular. There also is seafood and river fish such as trout. Delicacies such as ficatellu (also named as ficateddu), coppa, ham (prizuttu), lonzu are made from Corsican pork (porcu nustrale). Cheeses like brocciu, casgiu merzu, casgiu veghju are made from goat or sheep milk. Chestnuts are the main ingredient in the making of pulenta. A variety of alcohol also exists ranging from aquavita (brandy), red and white Corsican wines (Vinu Corsu), muscat wine (plain or sparkling), and the famous "Cap Corse" apéritif produced by Mattei. Maquis, the brush that grows in the area, is eaten by local animals and grows near certain plants, resulting in the noticeable taste in the food there.
Corsica has produced a number of known artists: Alizee, A Filetta (polyphonic chant group), Canta U Populu Corsu (band), Laetitia Casta (model/actress), Julien de Casabianca (cineast), Jérôme Ferrari (writer), Patrick Fiori (singer), Petru Guelfucci (singer), I Muvrini (band), Jenifer (singer), François Lanzi (painter), Ange Leccia (visual art), Henri Padovani (musician, original guitarist from the Police), Thierry de Peretti (cineast), Marie-Claude Pietragalla (dancer), Jean-Paul Poletti (singer), Robin Renucci (comedian), Tino Rossi (singer), César Vezzani (opera singer).
Before 1975, Corsica was a départment of the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. In 1975 two new départements, Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud, were created by splitting the hitherto united departement of Corsica.
On 2 March 1982, a law was passed that gave Corsica the status of territorial collectivity (collectivité territoriale), abolishing the Corsican Regional Council which had existed before. Unlike the regional councils, the Corsican Assembly has executive powers over the island.
In 1992, three institutions were formed in the territorial collectivity of Corsica:
- The Executive Council of Corsica, which exercises the type of executive functions held in other French regions by the presidents of the Regional Councils. It ensures the stability and consistency needed to manage the affairs of the territory;
- The Corsican Assembly, a deliberative, unicameral legislative body with greater powers than the regional councils on the mainland;
- The Economic, Social and Cultural Council of Corsica, an advisory body.
A local referendum held in 2003, aimed at abolishing the two départements to leave a territorial collectivity with extended powers, was voted down by a narrow margin. However, the issue of Corsican autonomy and greater powers for the Corsican Assembly continues to hold sway over Corsican politics.
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 Genoese governor ordered all farmers and landowners to plant four trees yearly; a chestnut, olive, fig, 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 varieties, is certified as to its origin (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) by the French National Institute of Origin and Quality (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine – INAO).
Corsica's main exports are granite and marble, tannic acid, cork, cheese, wine, citrus fruit, olive oil and cigarettes.
Corsica has 232 kilometres (144 miles) of metre gauge railway. The main line runs between Bastia and Ajaccio and there is a branch line from Ponte-Leccia to Calvi. Chemins de Fer de la Corse (CFC) is the name of the regional rail network serving the French island of Corsica. For a list of stations, see Railway stations in Corsica. The railroad retains the air of a friendly local railroad and is an excellent way to get around the island, for both the inhabitants and tourists.
There is a third line along the east coast that is not in use due to heavy damage during World War II. There has been talk of restoration, but no progress has occurred.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
There are several nationalist 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 Corsica.
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.
In 1972, the Italian company Montedison dumped toxic waste off the Corsican coast, creating what looked like red mud in waters around the island with the poisoning of the sea, the most visible effects being cetaceans found dead on the shores. At that time the Corsican people felt that the French government did not support them since it did not complain to Italy to make this situation change. To stop the poisoning, one ship carrying toxic waste from Italy was bombed.
Organisations started to seek money, acting like the Mafia, to fund violence. Some groups that claim to support Corsican independence, such as the National Liberation Front of Corsica, have carried out a violent campaign since the 1970s that includes bombings and assassinations, 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. The 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.
In 2000, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin 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, whose practice and teaching, like other regional or minority languages in France, had been discouraged in the past. According to the UNESCO 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 Provence), eventually threatening France's unity as a country.
In a referendum on 6 July 2003, 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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- The Chestnut Tree in terracorsa.
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- For a detailed description of the railroad system see Simms, Wilfrid S., "The Railways of Corsica" (1997)(ISBN 0952888122).
- "89 % des corses opposés à l’indépendance de l’île" [89% Corsicans are opposed to Corsican independence], Nouvel Observateur (in French)
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- Loughlin, John, and Claude Olivesi (eds.). 1999. Autonomies insulaires: vers une politique de différence pour la Corse. Ajaccio: Editions Albiana. ISBN 2-905124-47-4
- Saul, John Ralston. 1992. Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West. New York: Free Press; Maxwell Macmillan International. ISBN 0-02-927725-6
- Corsica: a mountain in the sea – Official French website (in English)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Corsica.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Corsica.|
- Costa, L.J.; Cécile Costa (2005). "Préhistoire de la Corse". Kyrnos Publications pour l'archéologie. Retrieved 26 April 2008. (French)
- "TerraCorsa,I Muvrini and much more Corsican music". TerraCorsa. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
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- Corsica at DMOZ (English)
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- jabro. "Getting around in Corsica by bicycle". jabro.net. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
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- Ferries to Corsica Detailed technical specifications of the various ferry vessels, history, deckplans. (Italian)
- Audio recording of the traditional Corsican folktale 'Goldenhair' (in English)