The island has a natural park (north east) protecting thousands of rare animal and plant species.
|Table of contents|
5 Other places named Corsica
Its position has been considered significant as a platform for military operations, which were violent and ongoing between Italy and France for centuries. The possible unification with Sardinia has however always been seen as a dangerous eventuality, especially by the UK, because it would have granted to their ruler an overwhelming power over the Mediterranean Sea.
Corsica was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose parents were of the minor 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, his parents travelled to court in France, and like many other Corsican nobles, they sent young Napoleon to school there.
Another important figure is Pascal Paoli (1725 - 1807), the Corsican general and patriot, who struggled for Corsican independence, first against Genoa, then against France.
The city state of Genoa held sway for centuries before giving Corsica to France in 1768 to help pay off a debt.
The regional capital is Ajaccio (Corsican: Aiacciu). The region is divided in two départements: Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse. The former Corse département (#20) was divided into two départements in 1975.
Main towns: (Corsican names)
- Saint-Florent (San Fiorenzu)
- Calvi (Calvi)
- Porto-Vecchio (Porti Vechju)
- Bonifacio (Bunifaziu)
There are several movements on the island for Corsican independence, although some are rather in favor of autonomy. Generally speaking, autonomist proposals focus on the promotion of the Corsican language, more power for local governments, and some supplementary exemptions from national taxes (Corsica already enjoys some exemptions.).
The French government is strongly opposed to the idea, fearing it would threaten the unity of France. In any case, independence movements never get a majority of the votes in the island, indicating the probable lack of support for independence among the locals.
Some supporters of Corsican independence have launched a campaign of bombings and assassinations to try to force the French government to grant it independence. In addition, some of these groups are known to practice extortion, making them similar to mafias; those who do not comply with their demands may get their belongings destroyed. They also use other intimidation tactics against those who do not cave in to their demands; for instance, on the night of September 4 to 5, 2003, the car of journalist Christine Clerc was machine-gunned after she had written a September 1 article in Le Figaro on the topic of intimidation and crime against non-Corsicans living in the island.
Perhaps due to this athmosphere of gangsterism and intimidation is the tradition of omertà or "law of silence"; that is, the authors of crimes are seldom reported, suspects (including of murder) are protected from Justice, and it is difficult to obtain witnesses.
In 2000, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin agreed to grant an increased degree of autonomy to Corsica, in exchange for a cessation of violence. This was opposed by the Gaullist opposition in the French National Assembly, on the grounds that it would lead to autonomy also for other regions (Brittany, Provence, Alsace, etc.), and that would in turn lead eventually to the breakup of France; in any case, autonomy for Corsica has created a precedent for devolution to other French regions also.
The proposed autonomy for Corsica would include greater protection for the Corsican language (corsu), the traditional language of the island. France traditionally has been discouraging the use of regional or minority languages.
In a referendum on July 6, 2003, a 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.