Context of Corsica

Corsica ( KOR-sik-ə, Upper Corsican: [ˈkorsiɡa], Southern Corsican: [ˈkɔrsika], Italian: [ˈkɔrsika]; French: Corse [kɔʁs] (listen); Ligurian: Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 region...Read more

Corsica ( KOR-sik-ə, Upper Corsican: [ˈkorsiɡa], Southern Corsican: [ˈkɔrsika], Italian: [ˈkɔrsika]; French: Corse [kɔʁs] (listen); Ligurian: Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southeast of the French mainland, west of the Italian Peninsula and immediately north of the Italian island of Sardinia, which is the land mass nearest to it. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island. As of January 2023, it had a population of 351,255.

The island is a territorial collectivity of France. The regional capital is Ajaccio. Although the region is divided into two administrative departments, Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud, their respective regional and departmental territorial collectivities were merged on 1 January 2018 to form the single territorial collectivity of Corsica. As such, Corsica enjoys a greater degree of autonomy than other French regional collectivities; for example, the Corsican Assembly is permitted to exercise limited executive powers. Corsica's second-largest town is Bastia, the prefecture of Haute-Corse.

Corsica was ruled by the Republic of Genoa from 1284 to 1755, when it seceded to become a self-proclaimed, Italian-speaking Republic. In 1768, Genoa officially ceded it to Louis XV of France as part of a pledge for the debts it had incurred by enlisting France's military help in suppressing the Corsican revolt, and as a result France went on to annex it in 1769. The future Emperor of the French, Napoleon Bonaparte, was a native Corsican, born that same year in Ajaccio: his ancestral home, Maison Bonaparte, is today a visitor attraction and museum. Because of Corsica's historical ties to Tuscany, the island has retained many Italian cultural elements and many Corsican surnames are rooted in the Italian peninsula. Corsican, the native tongue and an Italo-Dalmatian language, is recognised as one of France's regional languages. Corsica is the least populated region of metropolitan France, and the third-least populated overall after Mayotte and French Guiana.

More about Corsica

Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 347597
  • Area 8680
  • Prehistory and antiquity
    Carthage and its dependencies in 264 BC; Corsica was a part of Carthage
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    Prehistory and antiquity
    Carthage and its dependencies in 264 BC; Corsica was a part of Carthage
    The medieval influence of Pisa in Corsica can be seen in the Romanesque-Pisan style of the Church of Aregno.

    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.

    Corsica has been occupied since the Mesolithic era. The permanent human presence in Corsica is documented in the Neolithic period from the 6th millennium BC.[1] In the 2nd millennium BC Corsica, the southern part in particular, saw the rise of the Torrean civilization, strongly linked to the Nuragic civilization in Sardinia.

    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, in 238 BC became a province of the Roman Republic.[2] The Romans, who built a colony in Aléria, considered Corsica as one of the most backward regions of the Roman world. The island produced sheep, honey, resin and wax, and exported many slaves, not well considered because of their fierce and rebellious character.[2] Moreover, it was known for its cheap wines, exported to Rome, and was used as a place of relegation, one of the most famous exiles being the Roman philosopher Seneca.[3] Administratively, the island was divided into pagi, which in the Middle Ages became the pievi, the basic administrative units of the island until 1768.[2] During the diffusion of Christianity, which arrived quite early from Rome and the Tuscan harbors, Corsica was home to many martyrs and saints: among them, the most important are Saint Devota and Saint Julia, both patrons of the island. Corsica was integrated into Roman Italy by Emperor Diocletian (r. 284–305).

    Middle Ages and early-modern era

    In the fifth century, the western half of the Roman Empire collapsed, and the island was invaded by the Vandals and the Ostrogoths.[2] Briefly recovered by the Byzantines, it soon became part of the Kingdom of the Lombards. This made it a dependency of the March of Tuscany, which used it as an outpost against the Saracens.[4] Pepin the Short, king of the Franks and Charlemagne's father, expelled the Lombards and nominally granted Corsica to Pope Stephen II.[4] In the first quarter of the 11th century, Pisa and Genoa together freed the island from the threat of Arab invasion.[4] After that, the island came under the influence of the republic of Pisa.[4] Many polychrome churches which adorn the island date from this period. Corsica also experienced a massive immigration from Tuscany, which gave to the island its present toponymy and rendered the language spoken in the northern two-thirds of the island very close to the Tuscan dialect.[4] This led to the traditional division of Corsica into two parts, along the main chain of mountains roughly going from Calvi to Porto-Vecchio: the eastern Banda di dentro, or Cismonte, more populated, developed, and open to the commerce with Italy, and the western Banda di fuori, or Pomonte, almost deserted, wild and remote.[4]

    The North African pirates frequently attacked Corsica, resulting in many Genoese towers being erected.

    The crushing defeat experienced by Pisa in 1284 in the Battle of Meloria against Genoa had among its consequences the end of the Pisan rule and the beginning of the Genoese influence in Corsica:[4] this was contested initially by the King of Aragon, who in 1296 had received from the Pope the investiture over Sardinia and Corsica.[5] A popular revolution against this and the feudal lords, led by Sambucuccio d'Alando, got the aid of Genoa. After that, the Cismonte was ruled as a league of comuni and churches, after the Italian experience.[5] The following 150 years were a period of conflict, when the Genoese rule was contested by Aragon, the local lords, the comuni and the Pope: finally, in 1450 Genoa ceded the administration of the island to its main bank, the Bank of Saint George, which brought peace.[6]

    In the 16th century, the island entered into the fight between Spain and France for supremacy in Italy.[6] In 1553, a Franco-Ottoman fleet occupied Corsica, but the reaction of Spain and Genoa, led by Andrea Doria, reestablished the Genoese supremacy on the island, confirmed by the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis.[7] The unlucky protagonist of this episode was Sampiero di Bastelica, who would later come to be considered a hero of the island. Their power was reinstated, the Genoese did not allow the Corsican nobility to share in the government of the island and oppressed the inhabitants with a heavy tax burden. On the other hand, they introduced the chestnut tree on a large scale, improving the diet of the population, and built a chain of towers along the coast to defend Corsica from the attacks of the Barbary pirates from North Africa.[8] The period of peace lasted until 1729, when the refusal to pay taxes by a peasant sparked the general insurrection of the island against Genoa.[9]

    The island became known for the large number of mercenary soldiers and officers it produced. In 1743, over 4,600 Corsicans, or 4% of the entire population of the island, were serving as soldiers in various armies (predominantly those of Genoa, Venice, and Spain), making it one of the most militarized societies in Europe.[10]

    Rise and annexation of the Corsican Republic
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    Pasquale Paoli

    In 1729 the Corsican Revolution for independence from Genoa began, first led by Luiggi Giafferi and Giacinto Paoli, and later by Paoli's son, Pasquale Paoli. After 26 years of struggle against the Republic of Genoa, including an ephemeral attempt in 1736 to proclaim an independent Kingdom of Corsica under the German adventurer Theodor von Neuhoff, an independent Corsican Republic was proclaimed in 1755 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli and remained sovereign until 1769 when the island was conquered by France. The first Corsican Constitution was written in Italian, the prevalent language in Corsica until the mid-19th century, by Paoli.

    The Corsican Republic was unable to eject the Genoese from the major coastal fortresses of Calvi and Bonifacio. After the Corsican conquest of Capraia in 1767, the Republic of Genoa sold the island to France, as France was trying to reinforce its Mediterranean position after its defeat in the Seven Years' War. In 1768, as part of the Treaty of Versailles, Genoa conceded the region to France to repay its heavy debts. French troops became stationed at forts to try to subdue the republicans. After an initial successful resistance culminating with the victory at Borgo, the Corsican republic was crushed by a large French army led by the Count of Vaux at the Battle of Ponte Novu. This marked the end of Corsican sovereignty. Despite triggering the Corsican Crisis in Britain, whose government gave secret aid, no foreign military support came for the Corsicans. However, nationalist feelings still ran high. Despite the conquest, Corsica was not incorporated into the French state until 1789.

    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 returned to French rule.

    19th century
    Corsicans commemorating the anniversary of the birth of Napoleon

    Despite being the birthplace of the Emperor, who had supported Paoli in his youth, the island was neglected by Napoleon's government.[11] In 1814, near the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Corsica 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 restoration, the island was further neglected by the French state. Despite the presence of a middle class in Bastia and Ajaccio, Corsica remained an otherwise primitive place, whose economy consisted mainly of subsistence agriculture, and whose population constituted a pastoral society, dominated by clans and the rules of vendetta. The code of vendetta required Corsicans to seek deadly revenge for offences against their family's honor. Between 1821 and 1852, no fewer than 4,300 murders were perpetrated in Corsica.[12] During the first half of the century, the people of Corsica were still immersed in the Italian cultural world: the bourgeoisie sent children to Pisa to study, official acts were enacted in Italian and most books were printed in Italian.[13] Moreover, many islanders sympathised with the national struggle which was taking place in nearby Italy in those years: several political refugees from the peninsula, like Niccolò Tommaseo, spent years in the island, while some Corsicans, like Count Leonetto Cipriani [fr], [it], took active part in the fights for Italian independence.

    Despite all that, during those years the Corsicans began to feel a stronger and stronger attachment to France. The reasons for that are manifold: the knowledge of the French language, which thanks to the mandatory primary school started to penetrate among the local youth, the high prestige of French culture, the awareness of being part of a big, powerful state, the possibility of well-paid jobs as civil servants, both in the island, in the mainland and in the colonies, the prospect of serving the French army during the wars for the conquest of the colonial empire, the introduction of steamboats, which reduced the travel time between mainland France from the island drastically, and – last but not least – Napoleon himself, whose existence alone constituted an indissoluble link between France and Corsica. Thanks to all these factors by around 1870 Corsica had landed in the French cultural world.[13]

    From the 19th century into the mid-20th century, Corsicans also grew closer to the French nation through participation in the French Empire. Compared to much of Metropolitan France, Corsica was poor and many Corsicans emigrated. While Corsicans emigrated globally, especially to many South American countries, many chose to move within the French Empire which acted as a conduit for emigration and eventual return, as many young Corsican men could find better job opportunities in the far corners of the Empire where many other French hesitated to go. In many parts of the Empire, Corsicans were strongly represented, such as in Saigon where in 1926 12% of Europeans were from Corsica.[14] Across the French Empire, many Corsicans retained a sense of community by establishing organizations where they would meet regularly, keep one another informed of developments in Corsica, and come to one another's aid in times of need.[15]

    Modern Corsica
    Monument to the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Corsica during World War II in Solaro (plaine orientale)
    Banner at the Pasquale Paoli University erected by supporters of Corsican independence, calling for the release of Yvan Colonna
    Scene of 2022 Corsica unrest, large protests and riots after Corsican independentist Yvan Colonna was killed in prison

    Corsica paid a high price for the French victory in the First World War: agriculture was disrupted by the years-long absence of almost all of the young workers, and the percentage of dead or wounded Corsicans in the conflict was double that of those from mainland France. Moreover, the protectionist policies of the French government, started in the 1880s and never stopped, had ruined the Corsican export of wine and olive oil, and forced many young Corsicans to emigrate to mainland France or to the Americas. In reaction to these conditions, a nationalist movement was born in the 1920s around the newspaper A Muvra, having as its objective the autonomy of the island from France. In the 1930s, many exponents of this movement became irredentist, seeing annexation of the island to fascist Italy as the only solution to its problems. Under Benito Mussolini annexation of Corsica had become one of the main goals of Italy's unification policy.

    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 Nazi Germany.[16] In November 1942 the island was occupied by Italian and German forces following the Anglo-American landings in North Africa. After the Italian armistice in September 1943, Italian and Free French Forces pushed the Germans out of the island, making Corsica the first French Department to be freed.[17] Subsequently, the US military established 17 airfields, nicknamed "USS Corsica", which served as bases for attacks on targets in German-occupied Italy.

    The Corsicans who promoted the ideal of Corsican irredentism published mainly in Italy, because of the persecutions from the French regime in the island in the first half of the 20th century. Many Corsicans, notably Petru Giovacchini, Simon Petru Cristofini and Marco Angeli di Sartèna, supported Italian irredentism on the island. Cristofini was executed by the French authorities; Angeli and Giovacchini were also condemned to death, but they escaped in Italy.

    During the May 1958 crisis, the French military command in Algeria mutinied against the French Fourth Republic and on 24 May occupied the island in an action called Opération Corse that led to the collapse of the government; the second phase of the coup attempt, occupying Paris, was cancelled following the establishment of a transitional government under Charles de Gaulle.[18]

    Between the late fifties and the seventies, proposals to conduct underground nuclear tests in the Argentella mines, the immigration of 18,000 former settlers from Algeria ("Pieds-Noirs") in the eastern plains, and continuing chemical pollution (Fanghi Rossi) from mainland Italy increased tensions between the indigenous inhabitants and the French government. Tensions escalated until an armed police assault on a pieds-noirs-owned wine cellar in Aleria, occupied by Corsican nationalists on 23 August 1975. This marked the beginning of the Corsican conflict, an armed nationalist struggle 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, or even full independence. Some groups supporting independence, such as the National Liberation Front of Corsica, have carried out a violent campaign that includes bombings and assassinations targeting buildings and officials representing the French government; periodic flare-ups of raids and killings culminated in the assassination of Prefect Claude Érignac in 1998. Lately, the drive towards independence has taken a more electoral approach, where Corsicans elected pro-autonomist, or pro-independence parties overwhelmingly in the past few elections.[19]

    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.[citation needed]

    In 2018 Corsica had the highest murder rate in France[20] which were the result of family feuds between clans on the island and vendettas or revenge actions against insults against the honor of a family. The most common victims of gun murders are prominent business people and local mayors.

    In March 2022, Corsica saw large protests and riots after Yvan Colonna, the murderer of Claude Érignac, was murdered in prison.[21]

    In August 2022, a rare and powerful derecho swept across the island and killed six people, injured dozens of others, and caused significant damage.[22][23][24]

    ^ Tamm, Erika; Di Cristofaro, Julie; Mazières, Stéphane; Pennarun, Erwan; Kushniarevich, Alena; Raveane, Alessandro; Semino, Ornella; Chiaroni, Jacques; Pereira, Luisa; Metspalu, Mait; Montinaro, Francesco (19 September 2019). "Genome-wide analysis of Corsican population reveals a close affinity with Northern and Central Italy". Scientific Reports. 9 (1): 13581. Bibcode:2019NatSR...913581T. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-49901-8. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 6753063. PMID 31537848. ^ a b c d Bertarelli (1929), p.41 ^ Pais, Ettore (1999). Storia della Sardegna e della Corsica durante il periodo romano (in Italian). Nuoro: Ilisso. pp. 76–77. ISBN 88-85098-92-4. ^ a b c d e f g Bertarelli (1929), p.42 ^ a b Bertarelli (1929), p.43 ^ a b Bertarelli (1929), p.45 ^ Bertarelli (1929), p.46 ^ "Ancient Corsica beckons with deserted beaches and historic structures". The Baltimore Sun. 1 March 1992 ^ Bertarelli (1929), p.48 ^ Gregory Hanlon. "The Twilight of a Military Tradition: Italian Aristocrats And European Conflicts, 1560-1800." Routledge: 1997. Page 318. ^ Howard, John E., Letters and Documents of Napoleon: Vol. 1 Rise to Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961. ^ Gregorovius, Ferdinand (1855). Wanderings in Corsica: its history and its heroes. Thomas Constable and Company. p. 196. ^ a b Ravis-Giordani (1991), p. 112–14 ^ Echo de la Corse (May–June 1929). "Inepuissable pepiniere de soldats et de coloniaux". Saigon-Cyrnos: Bulletin de l'Amicale Corse de la Cochinchine et du Cambodge. 43: 13–14. ^ Guelfi, A.D. (April 1931). "Les Corses hors de Corse partout presents toujours unis". Saigon-Cyrnos: Bulletin de l'Amicale Corse de la Cochinchine et du Cambodge. 58: 13–14. ^ Azéma, Jean-Pierre; Wieviorka, Olivier (1997). Vichy, 1940-44 (in French). Paris: Perrin. pp. 231–33. ^ Paletti, C. (1999). Un'operazione riuscita: Corsica settembre 1943 (in Italian). Rome: Ufficio Storico Stato maggiore Esercito. ^ "Jacques Massu obituary". Retrieved 27 October 2012. ^ "Corsica's 253 year struggle for self-rule". 8 February 2023. Retrieved 13 March 2022. ^ "Homicides" (PDF). 2018. ^ "Gilles Simeoni: "Nous ne sommes pas à l'abri d'un embrasement généralisé en Corse"". Le Figaro (in French). 11 March 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022. ^ "European Severe Weather Database". European Severe Storms Laboratory. Retrieved 18 August 2022. ^ "Violents orages en Corse: les images impressionnantes de l'aéroport d'Ajaccio balayé par des rafales de vent". 18 August 2022. Retrieved 18 August 2022. ^ Angrand, Marc; Overstraeten, Benoit Van (18 August 2022). "Three killed as violent storm hits Corsica". Reuters. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
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Stay safe
    Stay safe

    Notwithstanding the notorious mafia, Corsica is usually a very safe place, especially for tourists. Going out at night in the towns and villages will not be a problem. Be polite and respectful, and there is nothing to worry about.

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