Corsica (Corse) is, by size (8,680 km²), the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean sea. This large island is located west of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago (the island of Capraia is located just 30 km from Corsica). While the coast of Tuscany is located about 80 km to the east. To the south of Corsica lies Sardinia, from which it is separated from the Strait of Bonifacio, 11 km wide.
The region is formed from an administrative point of view by 2 departments: Upper Corsica (Haute-Corse) (2B) with the capital Bastia, and Southern Corsica (Corse-du-Sud) (2A) with the capital Ajaccio. The capital and main city of the island is Ajaccio. In addition to French, Corsican is spoken on the island. Corsican is a language closely related to the dialects of Tuscany.
From a geographical point of view, the island is formed by rugged mountains that cross the island from north-west to south-east, and give it a wild aspect. Monte Cinto (2,706 meters) is the highest mountain in Corsica, but there are numerous peaks that exceed 2,000 meters. The average altitude of the Corsican territory is 568 meters.
The coasts of the island, which stretch for 1,200 km, are wild and, fortunately, still largely intact. For the most part, the coasts are high and rich in inlets and cliffs, but there are also several beaches, especially along the east coast, which is mainly low and sandy.
The island was formerly occupied by the Phoenicians, then it was Carthaginian possession and after the Punic wars it became permanently Roman. Becoming, in AD 6, a Roman province.
During the Middle Ages, starting from the 11th century, the island was in possession of the city of Pisa, which however gradually lost control of it in favor of Genoa.
In the thirteenth century, with the victory of Genoa at Meloria, Corsica became a Genoese possession. Consequently, except for short Aragonese (15th century) and French (16th century) parentheses, the island remained under Genoese control until 1768, the year in which, with the Treaty of Versailles, Corsica was ceded to France.
The economy of the island, rather poor, is based on tourism, and in part on agriculture and the exploitation of forest resources, especially cork. The climate of the island, the mountains and the coasts make the island a popular destination for tourists.
On the island there is a lot of attention to nature protection. In fact, about 40% of Corsica’s territory is protected as a regional natural park.
Tourists visit the island mainly for the beauty of its coast and its sea. In fact, the Corsican coast is an important engine for tourism. Among the natural beauties of the island, UNESCO has included the Gulf of Porto, including the Calanche of Piana, the Gulf of Girolata and the Scandola Reserve, in the list of world heritage sites.
In addition to the natural beauty of the sea and the mountains of the interior, other attractions for tourists are the beautiful Pisan-style Romanesque churches, the characteristic villages perched in the interior and along the coast, and the numerous fortifications and towers scattered throughout the island. Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio and his ancestral home (Maison Bonaparte) is today an important attraction and museum.
- CORSICA (CORSE)
- Area: 8,680 km²
- Population: 302,000 (2008)
- Capital: Ajaccio