Corsica's flag
Corsica location
The location of Corsica, near Europe
Country France
Capital Ajaccio
Language(s) French and Corsican
Area 8,680 km2
Population 302,000

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France. It was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French Empire.


It is separated from the island of Sardinia, on the south, by the Strait of Bonifacio, about 10 miles wide, and its shortest distance from the mainland is 50 miles. Its distance from France about 100 miles. It is somewhat irregular in shape, but tolerably compact, except toward the north, where it terminates in a long and narrow tongue of land about 22 miles long by about six miles broad. Its greatest length, north to south is 110 miles, while its greatest breadth is near its centre, is 53 miles. Corsica's area is 3,367 square miles. The east coast is remarkable for its uniformity, presenting a line which is broken in only one or two places by comparatively small indentations. To this the west coast presents a striking contrast, a number of deep bays following each other in rapid and almost uninterrupted succession.


The interior is traversed by a mountain chain, which has its principal direction north to south, but throws out several lateral branches, particularly to the northwest. The highest summits are near the centre of the island, including Monte Cinto, 8,881 feet, and Monte Rotondo, 8,612, while others exceed considerably 7,000 feet and, for the greater part of the year, are covered with snow. The mountain masses are chiefly composed of granite and porphyry, and appear to be generally overlaid by extensive beds of limestone. From the east and west sides of the chain numerous streams descend to the opposite sides of the coast. They are mere torrents, short and rapid, and altogether unfit for navigation.


Early historyEdit

From the Phoenicians, its first colonists, the island took the name of Cyrnos; and from the Romans that of Corsica. On the decline of the Roman Empire it was seized by the Goths and passed from them to the Saracens. In 1481 it fell under the dominion of the Genoese, who retained it, with some interruption, until 1755.

Paoli and the French RevolutionEdit

In 1775, a great part of it was wrested from them and made independent by the celebrated Pasquale Paoli. France, claiming it on a pretended cession by the Genoese, obtained forcible possion of it in 1768, after the inhabitants had distinguished themselves by a long and valiant resistance. At the time of the French Revolution, Paoli, who had taken refuge in England, returned to his native land, and he summoned his countrymen to strike for their independence. With the assistance of the British, who landed in 1794, he reduced Bastia in May and Calvi in August. Corsica was constituted a kingdom under the government of a viceroy, General Elliot; the constitution and laws of Great Britain were adopted, and a parliament such as Ireland had was established. But a large part of the people were averse to the British, whom they regarded as heretics, and the French party again appeared on the island in October 1796. Sickness had reduced considerably the effective force of the British, and their position was rendered still more critical by the French occupation of the neighboring city of Leghorn, and in consequence they evacuated Corsica. In 1814 it was again in British occupation. Since 1815 the island has formed a French department For administrative purposes the department is divided into five arrondissements.

Famous CorsicansEdit


  • The Encyclopedia Americana Corporation. "Corsica." Encyclopedia Americana. Vol. 8. New York: Encyclopedia Americana, 1918. 28-29. Print.

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