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Regions with significant populations
Corsica Corsica
(inhabitants of Corsica)
Predominantly Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Other French • Historically related: Italians
Ancient tribes of Corsica

Corsican people or Corsicans are the people from or with origins in Corsica, a Mediterranean island and a territorial collectivity of France.


The Corsican people is originally from the island of Corsica, named after a tribe called by the Romans Corsi. The Corsi, who originally dwelt in Northeastern Sardinia, are considered to be one of the main peoples of the ancient Nuragic civilization and also of the Torrean civilization.

The ethnic and linguistic affiliation of the Corsi is not currently totally known, they may have been a group of native tribes related to the Balares and the Ilienses of Sardinia; they could have been related to the Aquitanians, the Iberians or to the Etruscans. They also may have been a group of tribes of the Ligures, like the Ilvates in the neighboring Ilva island (today's Elba) and spoken the old ligurian language.

Further research is needed to enlight the question of the Corsi origin and of the modern Corsican people. However it seems that the majority of the modern native Corsicans are descendent from these ancient tribes and peoples.

The Corsi were formed by several tribes that dwelt in Corsica island: Belatones (Belatoni), Cervini, Cilebenses (Cilibensi), Cumanenses (Cumanesi), Licinini, Macrini, Opini, Subasani, Sumbri, Tarabeni, Titiani, Venacini.

In the far north-east of the island of Sardinia, there were tribes that were also Corsi: Corsi Proper (for whom Corsica is named), they dwelt at the extreme north-east of Sardinia; Lestricones/Lestrigones (Lestriconi/Lestrigoni); Longonenses (Longonensi); Tibulati, they dwelt at the extreme north of Sardinia, about the ancient city of Tibula, near the Corsi.

Other peoples like the Etruscans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Carthaginians, to name the main ones, that went to Corsica island along its history, are also ancestors of some modern native Corsicans.

Population in Corsica[edit]

Population of Corsica (2011 Census)
Place of birth of residents of Corsica Percent of population
Continental France
Overseas France
Born in foreign countries with French citizenship at birth¹
¹Essentially Pieds-Noirs who resettled in Corsica.
²An immigrant is by French definition a person born in a foreign country and who didn't have French citizenship at birth.

Corsica has a population of 322,120 inhabitants (Jan. 2013 estimate).[1] At the 2011 census, 56.3% of the inhabitants of Corsica were natives of Corsica, 28.6% were natives of Continental France, 0.3% were natives of Overseas France, and 14.8% were natives of foreign countries.[2]

The majority of the foreign immigrants in Corsica come from the Maghreb (particularly Moroccans, who made up 33.5% of all immigrants in Corsica at the 2011 census), and from Southern Europe (particularly Portuguese, 22.7% of all immigrants, and Italians, 13.7%).[3]

The Corsican diaspora[edit]

During 19th century and the first part of 20th century, Corsican emigration was very important. Large numbers of Corsicans left the island for the French mainland or foreign countries. During 19th century, the favorite destinations of migrants were the French colonies and South America (for more details, see Corsican immigration to Puerto Rico and Corsican immigration to Venezuela). Then, between the 1920s and the 1950s, the major destination became the French mainland (primarily Marseille, today considered as the "first Corsican city of the world" with a number around 200,000). Causes of this emigration are various; poverty is the main reason (the French laws for restriction of exportations, the Second Industrial Revolution and the agricultural crisis have occasioned a lot of damages to the Corsican economy). Later, those massive departures have been accentuated by damages of the First World War on the Island. Today, the Corsican diaspora in the world is estimated to be around 1.5 million (they are probably 800,000 in mainland France).[citation needed]



Alongside French (Français), the official language throughout France, Corsican (Corsu) is the most widely spoken language on the island: it is a Romance language pertaining to the Italo-Dalmatian branch and akin to medieval Tuscan. Corsican was long the vernacular language besides Italian (Italiano), which retained official status in Corsica until 1859. Since then, it has been replaced by French due to the annexation of the island by France in 1768. Over the next two centuries, the use of French grew to the extent that, by the Liberation in 1945, all islanders had a working knowledge of French. The twentieth century saw a wholesale language shift, with islanders changing their language practices to the extent that there were no monolingual Corsican speakers left by the 1960s. By 1990, an estimated 50% of islanders had some degree of proficiency in Corsican, and a small minority, perhaps 10%, used Corsican as a first language.[4] Fewer and fewer people speak also a Ligurian dialect in what have long been a language island, Bonifacio: it is locally known by the name of bunifazzin.[5]

Number of Corsican speakers[edit]

The January 2007 estimated population of the island was 281,000, while the figure for the March 1999 census, when most of the studies – though not the linguistic survey work referenced in this article – were performed, was about 261,000 (see under Corsica). Only a fraction of the population at either time spoke Corsican with any fluency. The 2001 population of 341,000 speakers on the island given by Ethnologue[6] exceeds either census and thus may be considered questionable,[original research?] like its estimate of 402,000 speakers worldwide.

The use of Corsican over French has been declining. In 1980 about 70% of the population "had some command of the Corsican language."[7] In 1990 out of a total population of about 254,000 the percentage had declined to 50%, with only 10% using it as a first language.[4] The language appeared to be in serious decline when the French government reversed its non-supportive stand and began some strong measures to save it. Whether these measures will succeed remains to be seen. No recent statistics on Corsican are available.

UNESCO classifies the Corsican language as a potentially endangered language, as it has "a large number of children speakers" but is "without an official or prestigious status."[8] The classification does not state that the language is currently endangered, only that it is potentially so. In fact it is being vigorously affirmed[by whom?]. Often acting according to the current long-standing sentiment unknown Corsicans cross out French roadway signs and paint in the Corsican names. The Corsican language is a key vehicle for Corsican culture, which is notably rich in proverbs and in polyphonic song.


Main article: Cuisine of Corsica
Corsican cuisine.

From the mountains to the plains and sea, many ingredients play a role. Game such as wild boar (Cignale, Singhjari) is popular, in old times mouflon (muvra) were consumed. There also is seafood and river fish such as trout. Delicatessen such as figatellu, 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 (plain or sparkling), and the famous "cap corse" produced by Mattei.

Notable Corsicans[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b INSEE. "Estimation de population au 1er janvier, par région, sexe et grande classe d'âge – Année 2013" (in French). Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  2. ^ a b INSEE. "Fichier Données harmonisées des recensements de la population de 1968 à 2011" (in French). Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  3. ^ INSEE. "IMG1B – Les immigrés par sexe, âge et pays de naissance" (in French). Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  4. ^ a b "Corsican in France". Euromosaic. Retrieved 2008-06-13.  To access the data, click on List by languages, Corsican, Corsican in France, then scroll to Geographical and language background.
  5. ^ Enciclopedia Treccani - Dialetti liguri
  6. ^ "Corsican". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  7. ^ "Corsican language use survey". Euromosaic. Retrieved 2008-06-13.  To find this statement and the supporting data click on List by languages, Corsican, Corsican language use survey and look under INTRODUCTION.
  8. ^ Salminen, Tapani (1993–1999). "UNESCO Red Book on Endagered Languages: Europe:". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  • Smith, William (1872). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: J. Murray. pp. pages 689–692. Downloadable Google Books.

External links[edit]