Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Corsica (Corsican: Corsica, French: Corse) is
the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean
Sea (after Sicily, Sardinia, and Cyprus).
It is located west of Italy, south-east of
France and north of the island of Sardinia (Italy).
It forms part of the French Republic.
Politically, Corsica is governed as a region
of France, though there have been significant
local movements in recent decades calling
for greater autonomy or independence.
It has 250,000 inhabitants, and
an area of 8,682 square kilometres.
Corsica is largely mountainous, culminating
in Monte Cinto (2,710 m).
The island has a natural park (PNRC,
Parc Naturel Régional de Corse) protecting thousands
of rare animal and plant species.
It was created in 1972 and includes the Golfe de Porto,
the Réserve Naturelle de Scandola (Unesco World
Heritage Site), and some of the highest peaks on the
Main towns: (Corsican names) Ajaccio (Aiacciu),
Bastia (Bastia), Corte (Corti), Sartene (Sartè),
Other towns and villages:
Saint-Florent (San Fiurenzu),
Porto-Vecchio (Porti Vechju),
Because of the strategic position it
occupies in the Mediterranean, Corsica
has long been considered significant
as a platform for military operations,
particularly during the several centuries
of violent conflict
between Italy and France.
During those times, possible unification
with the neighbouring island of Sardinia
was seen as a dangerous eventuality by
many European states, because it would
have granted to the ruler of the islands
a dominant position in the Mediterranean Sea.
The city state of Genoa held sway
over the island for centuries before
giving Corsica to France in 1768
to help pay off a debt.
An important figure in Corsican history
is Pasquale Paoli (1725-1807), the
Corsican general and patriot, who
struggled for Corsican independence,
first against Genoa, then against France.
Corsica is also known as the
birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte,
who was born into a family in
the minor Corsican nobility.
Corsica was under French control at
the time, and Corsican nobles were
offered the ability to gain French
titles if they could prove
their genealogy sufficiently.
In the attempt to do that, Napoleon's
parents travelled to court in France,
and like many other Corsican nobles,
sent their son to school there.
The regional capital of Corsica
is Ajaccio (Corsican: Aiacciu).
The region is divided in two départements: Corse-du-Sud
These two departments were created on
September 15, 1975 by dividing up
the former department of Corse.
Recent attempts to gain greater
autonomy for the region have failed.
A referendum held in 2003 was
voted down by a narrow margin.
Tourism plays a major role in Corsican economy.
The island's pleasant climate
and the beautiful mountain and sea
landscapes make it a popular destination
among the French and other Western Europeans.
However the island has not had the
same level of intensive development
as some other parts of the Mediterranean
and is thus as relatively unspoilt.
Tourism is particularly concentrated
on the area around Porto Vecchio and
Calvi in the west of the island,
and Bonifacio in the south.
Corsica is currently governed as
a region of France.
There are several movements on the island calling for
some degree of Corsican independence from France, although
some are rather in favour of autonomy rather than full
Generally speaking, autonomist
proposals focus on the promotion
of the Corsican language, more power
for local governments, and some
exemptions from national taxes
additional to those that
currently apply to Corsica.
The French government is opposed to
full independence, fearing it would
threaten the unity of France, but has
at times shown support for
some level of autonomy.
There is significant support on the
island for proposals for greater autonomy,
but in votes held on the island
movements calling for full independence
have not gained a majority of support.
Some groups who claim to support Corsican
independence have carried out a violent
campaign since the 1970's including
bombings and a few assassination attempts,
usually targeting pieds-noirs and other
non-Corsicans or buildings and officials
representing the French government.
The peaceful occupation of a pied-noir vineyard in Aléria
in 1975 marked a turning point when the French government
responded with overwhelming force, eliciting sympathy
for the rebels.
However, events such as the murder of prefect Claude
Érignac on February 6, 1998 (for which Yvan Colonna
was arrested five years later) have only served to convince
conservatives in Corsica as well as in the French government
that the nationalists cannot be trusted with more autonomy.
Recent attacks on Muslims and their
places of worship have
reinforced this opinion.
In addition, some of these groups
are known to practice extortion and
other intimidatory tactics, not
dissimilar from mafia activity in
Sicily and southern Italy.
It is sometimes suggested that this is directly related
to long-standing cultural traditions of banditry in
the rugged interior of the island.
In 2000, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
agreed to grant an increased degree
of autonomy to Corsica in exchange
for a cessation of violence.
The proposed autonomy for Corsica would
include greater protection for the
Corsican language (corsu), the
traditional language of the island,
which, like other regional or minority
languages in France, had in
the past been discouraged.
However, the plans were opposed by
the Gaullist opposition in the French
National Assembly, on the grounds that
they would lead to calls for autonomy
also for other regions (such as Brittany,
Provence and Alsace), and eventually
threaten the unity of France as a country.
In a referendum on July 6, 2003, a
narrow majority of Corsican voters
opposed a project from the government
of Jean-Pierre Raffarin and interior
minister Nicolas Sarkozy that would have
modified the political institutions of
the island and granted them greater autonomy.
PhotoGlobe - Corsica
A collection of photos of Corsica together with GPS-based positions
CNN coverage of rejection of autonomy proposals in 2003
This information was updated December 2004
All text is available under the terms of the
Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
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