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Corsica flag Corsica coat of arms
Nouvelle-Aquitaine Nouvelle-Aquitaine Nouvelle-Aquitaine Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Bretagne Bretagne Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Centre-Val de Loire Grand Est Île-de-France Korsika Okzitanien Hauts-de-France Normandie Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Provence-Alpes-Côte d’AzurLocation of Corsica in France
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Basic data
Country FranceFrance France
prefecture Ajaccio
President of the Executive Board Gilles Simeoni ( IC )
population 334,938 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 38.6 inhabitants per km²
surface 8,679 km²
Departments 2
Arrondissements 5
Community associations 19th
Cantons 26th
Communities 360
ISO-3166-2 code FR-COR

Relief map of the Corsica region

Corsica ( Corsica Corsica , French Corse [ kɔʁs ]) is a largely high mountain island in the Mediterranean and politically a regional authority of France with a special status. The fourth largest Mediterranean island after Sicily , Sardinia and Cyprus lies west of Italy at the height of Abruzzo , north of Sardinia and southeast of mainland France.

The island has an area of ​​8,680 km² and has 334,938 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017). The capital and administrative center is Ajaccio .


NASA satellite image of Corsica

Corsica rises up as an imposing mountain landscape in places from a depth of 2500 m. Only 24 km away from the west coast it reaches its highest point with the massif of Monte Cinto (2706 m). The terrain morphology enables unique views and gave Corsica the nickname “mountains in the sea”. Because of the numerous bays, Corsica has a coastline of over 1000 km. A third of it consists of beach, the rest is rocky coast.


Corsica is between 43 ° 01 'and 41 ° 22' north latitude and 9 ° 34 'and 8 ° 33' east longitude. The island is bounded in the north by the Ligurian Sea , in the east and south by the Tyrrhenian Sea and in the west by the western Mediterranean. From north ( Cap Corse ) to south ( Capo Pertusato ) the island measures 183 km, from east ( Alistro ) to west ( Capo Rosso ) 83 km.

The distance to France ( Nice ) is 180 km, the Italian mainland is only 83 km away ( Livorno ), the Italian island of Sardinia on the Strait of Bonifacio in the south is only 12 km.


For the most part, the island consists of a high mountain range in the west and a low mountain range in the east. About 86% of the island are mountainous and only 14% are coastal lowlands. Only the east coast has a flat strip that is a maximum of 10 km wide. Corsica has an average altitude of 568 m (Sardinia: 344 m, Sicily: 441 m). There are more than 50 two-thousanders in Corsica.

The basement in the west has an over 2000 m high, mostly ridge-shaped main ridge with an S-shaped course, extending from northwest to southeast, and shows typical high mountain character. From the main ridge, which is also the watershed, numerous steeply sloping side ridges and side valleys run down to the bay-rich west coast. The main ridge is crossed along its entire length by the GR 20 long-distance hiking trail (in the Corsica Regional Nature Park ).

The two highest mountains on the island are located directly in the main ridge:

Aiguilles de Bavella

Also worth mentioning are the craggy rock towers of the Aiguilles de Bavella , which are also known as the Corsican Dolomites, although they are made of granites. The main ridge of the mountains is crossed by a total of four passes ( Col de Bavella , Col de Verde , Col de Vergio , Col de Vizzavona ), of which the Col de Vergio is the highest with a height of 1470  m and the Col de Vizzavona ( 1163  m ) is the busiest. Further pass roads open up the side foothills at a height of over 1000 m.

Towards the south, the island's relief decreases significantly in prominence . At the southern end near Bonifacio one encounters large areas of sedimented dolomite limes, which were probably formed by the secondary dolomitization of lime sludge of marine origin. The karstified limestone cliffs of Bonifacio are impressively marked by both the tides and storms.


Restonica valley , rock face with exposed quartz porphyry

Corsica was formed like the Alps in the Tertiary and consists of two-thirds of a crystalline granite base , especially in the west and south; one speaks of the crystalline Corsica . The north-east, the Alpine Corsica, consists mainly of schists , which have formed from sea sediments, and alluvial land. The border between them runs roughly along a line from Saint-Florent in the north via Corte in the center of the island to Sari-Solenzara in the southeast. The rocks of the main ridge consist mainly of Variscan granites and volcanic rocks , such as B. Rhyolite and quartz porphyry , from the Carboniferous to Permian . The “alpine” slate mountains to the east, with its summit heights, remain well below 2000 m and thus have the character of a low mountain range. It consists of slate deposited under the sea and later folded (clay slate, gloss slate , metamorphic ophiolite ), the formation of which goes back to the enormous land mass movements during the unfolding of the Alps in the geological epoch of the Eocene . In places the slate has finely distributed pyrite inclusions. The glossy slate cover is less clastic and contains numerous radiolarite deposits.

In the far north-east there are also isolated young volcanic rocks of the Corsican Magma Province , to which the Tuscan Magma Province (including Elba ) adjoins further east .

During the heyday of the last Ice Age of the Pleistocene , i.e. 30,000 to 20,000 years ago, Corsica was heavily glaciated . As a remnant of that time can be found in the mountains Kare , some water-filled cirque lakes form, and many formed by glacial valleys with terminal moraines . In the tongue areas of the former glaciers there are still extensive heaps of rubble and scree, which are often traversed by meltwater flowing away into the summer months.

Is geologically interesting the coast to the west between Porto and Piana , known as the " Calanche de Piana" and for his Tafoni - weathering is known. The scientific name Tafone was borrowed from the Corsican language .


The most populous cities in Corsica are:

City (Corsican name) Inhabitants (year) Department
Ajaccio (Aiacciu) 70,659 (2017) Corse-du-Sud
Bastia 45,715 (2017) Upper Corsica
Porto-Vecchio (Portivechju) 12,042 (2017) Corse-du-Sud
Borgo (U Borgu) 8,760 (2017) Upper Corsica
Biguglia 7,923 (2017) Upper Corsica
Corte (Corti) 7,446 (2017) Upper Corsica
Calvi 5,559 (2017) Upper Corsica
Furiani 5,628 (2017) Upper Corsica

The capitals of the two earlier departments were Ajaccio ( Napoleon's birthplace ) on the west coast and the port city of Bastia in the northeast. Calvi in the northwest is another important port city. In Corte , the former capital in the center of the island, is the seat of the University of Pascal Paoli Corsica .

Other important cities in the south are:

  • Bonifacio (Bunifaziu): southernmost town in Corsica
  • Sartène (Sartè): considered the "most Corsican of all Corsican cities"

Political structure

From 1793 to 1811 the island was divided into two departments , Golo and Liamone. The two departments of the Corse region existed since January 1, 1976 and were abolished on January 1, 2018 for the exercise of state competencies. The two departments themselves remained as statistical units.

OZ = Ordinal number of the department         Arr. = Number of arrondissements        According to = Number of municipalities
W. = Coat of arms of the department Kant. = Number of cantons
ISO = ISO-3166-2 code GV = Number of municipal associations
OZ W. Department prefecture ISO Arr. GV Kant. According to Residents
January 1, 2017
(inh / km²)
2A Coat of arms of the Corse-du-Sud department Corse-du-Sud Ajaccio FR-2A 000000000000002.00000000002 000000000000007.00000000007th 000000000000011.000000000011 000000000000124.0000000000124 000000000157249.0000000000157.249 000000000004014.00000000004.014 39
2 B Coat of arms of the Haute-Corse department Upper Corsica Bastia FR-2B 000000000000003.00000000003 000000000000012.000000000012 000000000000015.000000000015th 000000000000236.0000000000236 000000000177689.0000000000177,689 000000000004665.00000000004,665 38
total 000000000000005.00000000005 000000000000019.000000000019th 000000000000026.000000000026th 000000000000360.0000000000360 334.938 000000000008679.00000000008,679 39
Arrondissements in the Corsica region
Cantons in the Corsica region
Associations of municipalities in the Corsica region



Climate diagram Bastia

Corsica has a typical Mediterranean climate : hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters. In winter, the Mediterranean (13–24 ° C) acts as a heat store. Due to the high mountains and strong winds, there are some deviations in Corsica.

The amount of precipitation depends on the altitude. At an altitude of 2000 m, the precipitation is about four times as strong as on the coast, where almost no rain falls in summer. Summer thunderstorms only let the rivers swell for a short time. Corsica has more sunshine than mainland France with around 2750 hours.

Winters are quite mild on the coast with daytime temperatures of around 12 ° C, although night frosts occasionally occur. In the higher mountains there is regular snowfall and closed snow cover, whereby winter sports are quite possible until spring. Spring is quite pleasant with values ​​between 15 and 20 ° C, although it can still be quite fresh at night. From June, however, the temperature rises to values ​​of 25 ° C and more. In July and August it is hot with around 30 ° C, but it cools down to around 20 ° C at night. Even in summer you can often see snow on the high mountains. Autumn is much more pleasant again with around 20 ° C, but like in spring the nights can be significantly cooler (sometimes below 10 ° C).

The extreme values ​​in Ajaccio are −8.1 ° C in January and +40.5 ° C in August.

In the period 1981-2010, the highest mean annual temperature in all of Metropolitan France was measured at the measuring station in Sari-Solenzara in south-east Corsica: 16.41 ° C. The lowest temperature ever recorded at this station was −5.9 ° C on March 7, 1971. The highest temperature was 39.9 ° C, measured on July 4, 1965.

Sari Solenzara
Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Sari-Solenzara
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 13.6 14.0 15.9 18.1 22.2 26.1 29.4 29.7 26.3 22.1 17.4 14.3 O 20.8
Min. Temperature (° C) 5.8 5.6 7.3 9.3 12.9 16.5 19.5 19.9 17.1 13.9 9.8 7.1 O 12.1
Temperature (° C) 9.7 9.8 11.6 13.7 17.8 21.3 24.5 24.8 21.7 18.0 13.6 10.7 O 16.5
Precipitation ( mm ) 71.1 58.3 61.2 79.9 45.8 25.1 12.1 28.4 88.3 125.6 94.2 103.7 Σ 793.7
Rainy days ( d ) 6.2 6.1 6.5 7.5 4.9 3.0 1.5 2.2 4.8 7.4 8.4 8.7 Σ 67.2
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Winds in Corsica

Wind directions as an annual average

The most common winds in the summer months:

  • North: Tramontana , cold and dry; from beyond the Alps
  • Northwest: Mistral (Maestrale), cold and dry; brings a clear view
  • Northeast: Grecale , humid and humid
  • East: Levant , warm and humid; is responsible for dune formation and the emergence of the lagoons on the east coast
  • Southeast: Scirocco , humid and hot; brings thunderstorms
  • Southwest: Libeccio (Libecciu), blows most frequently, moderately strong, large temperature fluctuations; predicts rain
  • West: Poniente : very rare, hot

In addition, there are land and sea winds, which result from the varying degrees of daily warming:

  • The Mezziornu sea breeze sets in about two to four hours after sunrise, peaks between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and ends one to two hours before sunset.
  • The land breeze Terranu blows at night and often carries the scent of the maquis out into the sea.

When driving along the coast, one should always keep in mind that the wind can blow from one cape to the other from different directions and with different strengths. The steep mountains cause a strong cross sea, especially where they rise directly from the sea . In heavy seas , this reaches enormous dimensions and only smooths out far out in the open sea.

Tides and water levels

As everywhere on earth, the same tides occur in the western Mediterranean at intervals of almost twelve and a half hours. The tidal range on the coast of Corsica is in spring tide cm 30 wherein neap tide cm 10th Deviations between morning and evening levels can be up to 10 cm. Depending on the direction, winds increase or decrease the water level considerably.


Altitude levels

Laricio pine forest below the slope near Lac de Nino , Forêt de Valdo-Niellu. In the back left Paglia Orba, right the Monte Cinto massif
Azonal Buchwald at Cozzano ( Canton Zicavo ), forms extremely high precipitation storage layers the highest Forest Company; in the foreground a desert covered with a heather, characterized by Salzmann gorse and tragacanth
Mediterranean level (0–900 / 1000 m)
  • European olive tree - carob tree forest (Olea europaea ssp. Sylvestris-Ceratonia siliqua) , fragmentary.
  • Deep Mediterranean hardwood forest with holm oak and cork oak , local pine , Aleppo pine on lime-rich locations, secondary deep Mediterranean maquis .
  • High Mediterranean holm oak and pine forest, high Mediterranean macchia.
Sub-Mediterranean level
  • Lower high to sub-Mediterranean transitional level (600–1100 m) with sweet chestnut (anthropogenic, mostly in Selven ) and regular holm oak , small-scale downy oak and sessile oak forest.
  • Medium to higher level (900–1400 / 1800 m) with black pine forest.
Mediterranean-montane zone (1100–1800 m)
  • Deeper beech forest.
  • Higher silver fir forest.
Forest-free high-montane level (1600-2000 m)
Alpine (north side) to culminate (sunny side) level (2000-2700 m)
  • Bushes, heather, rubble and rock communities.


Garigue and macchia in Corsica

The maquis , called macchia in Corsican, is an evergreen scrub forest that covers around half of the island. This type of vegetation is typical of Mediterranean winter rain climates and is particularly characteristic of the island. The plants often have leathery leaves and are hairy on the underside to keep evaporation as low as possible. Oily and strongly fragrant plants are also typical of the macchia.

Already in the end of winter the macchia blooms in bright colors, and an intense fragrance emanates from the island, which can also be perceived from the sea; Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have said that he could recognize his home island from this alone. Important plants are, for example, lavender , gorse , rock rose , myrtle , tree heather and strawberry tree . In the hot summer months, the vegetation dries up in many areas, giving the landscape a steppe-like appearance.

Every year in midsummer forest fires occur , most of which are due to arson or negligence. Shepherds deliberately set fires to upgrade the "worthless" maquis to grazing land. In the past, arson was also used by building speculators , who devalued the maquis as nature and then obtained building permits more easily. A small part of these fires is also caused by spontaneous combustion of the dried out vegetation ( fire ecology ). To extinguish larger forest fires, special fire-fighting planes are used, which take in seawater from the sea in the coastal area and throw it inland directly over the source of the fire. This can lead to salinisation of the topsoil in places and make it more difficult for the vegetation to reappear.


The garigue is often confused with the maquis. However, the vegetation is lower and usually only reaches a height of up to one meter; there are also other plants to be found. Rock roses , milkweed species , various gorse , rosemary , thyme , lavender , sage and geophytes such as orchids , affodill or the merendera can be found on particularly thin soils .

Trees and crops

Cork oaks , filitosa (Corse-du-Sud)

The most important commercial forest trees in Corsica are Laricio pines (31%), holm oaks (21%), sea pines ( 29%), beeches (15%), cork oaks (4%) and silver fir (1%).

The Laricio pine , also called Corsican black pine (Pinus nigra ssp. Laricio ) , can reach a height of up to 50 meters and an age of almost a thousand years. The tree is widespread in Corsica in the higher mountain regions from around 800 to 1800 m. The Corsican black pine is very undemanding. It naturally grows very slowly on the barren, rocky soils of the highlands. It survives longer periods of frost without any problems.

Mighty sweet chestnut at Zicavo

The sweet chestnut , also known as the sweet chestnut , covers an area of ​​15,000 hectares in the Castagniccia area alone ; 40,000 hectares are planted with sweet chestnuts on the entire island. The planting of sweet chestnut groves near the settlements was largely promoted by the Genoese across the island in order to alleviate the famine that occurred again and again at the time. For this purpose, numerous fresh stone and downy oak sites were cleared and converted into the Mediterranean chestnut landscape that is still characteristic today. In addition to cattle breeding (sheep, goats), the chestnuts were the main source of food for the Corsicans - hence the name “bread tree”.

In the south of the island around Porto-Vecchio and Figari , the cork oak is widespread. There are also smaller deposits in the north, for example near Saint Florent. The tree can be peeled every 10 to 20 years to obtain natural cork.

Eucalyptus , which grows quickly and evaporates a great deal of water , was often planted in the swamp areas that were drained to combat malaria . Eucalyptus grows up to 40 m high and has a silvery gray bark that usually hangs down from the trunk in vertical shreds and strips. The leaves are long, sickle-shaped and exude the typical “cough candy” scent, as do the fruits. A plantation with some stately trees is located in the Gulf of Porto on the west coast, the grove houses, among other things, the local "Camping Municipal d'Ota Porto".

As far as the soil conditions allow, other typical plants thrive up to a height of about 400 meters, which can be found in the entire Mediterranean area. These include cypresses , olive trees , oleanders , plane trees , mimosas and date palms . Important agricultural crops at this altitude are citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, clementines, limes ), fig trees , almond and peach trees and the cultivation of wine .


Corsica is home to several endemic animal species that are exclusively found on this island.


Among the amphibians , endemic species are the Corsican mountain newt , the Corsican fire salamander and the Corsican disc beater, all species that have their main distribution at medium and high altitudes.

The lower elevations are main distribution of species that are found elsewhere in the Mediterranean region: Sardinian Disc- , toad , Sardinian Tree Frog and Italian Pool Frog .


The reptile species of Corsica, which mainly colonize the lower elevations, include the Greek tortoise , the European pond turtle , the European half-finger , the wall gecko and the ruin lizard . Depending on the relief, the Tyrrhenian mountain lizard can also be found near the sea, for example on the sometimes very rugged west coast. In general, it inhabits the higher altitudes and is the only lizard to be found regularly in the summit areas beyond 2500 m. Tyrrhenian wall lizard , yellow-green angry snake and grass snake , which occurs here as a separate subspecies, can be found at almost every altitude level on the island, only the peaks are not populated. The European leaf finger and dwarf keel lizard are very rare in Corsica , both species that can only occupy refugial habitats.


Corsican nuthatch (Sitta whiteheadi)

Since Corsica is an important stopover for European bird migration, large flocks of waterbirds and waders can be observed in the lagoons of the east coast between October and March, including very rare species such as B. Curlew , Common Snipe , Teal , Redshank , Scoter and Little Tern . Most of the species are protected by the EC Birds Directive and are not allowed to be hunted in Corsica either. The triel was also found as a breeding bird in parts of Corsica.

Birds of prey can often be seen, for example ospreys (on the west coast, for example in the La Scandola nature reserve), golden eagles and bearded vultures (especially in the high mountains), red kite , buzzard , short-toed eagle and kestrel . The only endemic bird species found only in Corsica is the Corsican nuthatch .

Animals in water

The coastal waters are rich in fish, around 300 species of brackish and salt water are known here. Trout and eel can be found in the rivers, some of which are used. This causes problems especially for the originally native Mediterranean brown trout , which can only be found more often in a few river systems on the island. Another specialty of Corsica's fresh waters are freshwater prawns , which are often found in the lower reaches of smaller rivers.


The wild mammals are not very species-rich due to their island location, the mountainous topography and the intensive hunting. The mammal dominating Corsica today is the wild boar . The European mouflon has become rare, since it was exterminated by heavy hunting throughout Europe and was only able to survive in Corsica and Sardinia. Only two populations have survived in Corsica, namely in the Monte Cinto massif north of Calacuccia and in the vicinity of the Col de Bavella between Zonza and Solenzara. In the vicinity of Venaco on the Monte Rotondo massif, mouflons were resettled in order to gradually colonize the entire main ridge of the Corsican high mountains.

The Corsican dwarf deer was exterminated in Corsica and could only survive as a subspecies in Sardinia. In the meantime, Sardinian animals have been resettled on the northern neighboring island. In the maquis and garrigue landscapes you can encounter hares , weasels as well as foxes and wild cats . Sperm whales and dolphins are particularly common at Cap Corse and in the Strait of Bonifacio when they move from one basin to another in the Mediterranean.

be crazy

European black widow

Notable arachnids are the European black widow and tarantula .

Insects and malaria

European praying mantis

The European praying mantis is among the large group of insects found in Corsica .

Over 60 species of day butterfly and thick-headed butterflies have been identified on this island so far. Of these, at least four species are endemic to the Tyrrhenian Islands, so they only occur in Corsica and Sardinia: Corsican swallowtail , Euchloe insularis (a species of whitefly), Corsican mother-of-pearl butterfly and Corsican forest porter . The Corsican meadow bird also has populations on Elba and surrounding islands, as well as in coastal areas of Tuscany . However, the subspecies elbana represented there is sometimes classified as a separate species, in this case the nominate form corinna is a real Tyrrhenian endemic. The subspecies ichnusa of the small fox, which is represented in higher elevations, can easily be recognized by the lack of black spots on the upper side of the forewing. This taxon should also sometimes be rated as a species.

Until the 1950s, malaria was still a major problem in Corsica, especially on the extensive brackish water areas of the east coast. This coastal plain, which is actually of agricultural interest because it is productive, was traditionally never densely populated because the Corsicans feared pirates in the past. But the disease, which was mainly transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, was also an obstacle from which the Corsicans traditionally retreated to higher altitudes during midsummer. From 1944 the American air force fought the malaria mosquito in the Stabiacco estuary near Porto-Vecchio by spraying DDT , which made the settlement of the former French Algerians ( pieds-noirs ) and the reclamation of the coastal plain and later tourism possible. Until 1973, however, there was repeatedly burgeoning malaria, today the island is considered malaria-free.


Corsica as part of the Kingdom of Italy at the time of Lothar II and Berengar II (948–961)

origin of the name

The name of the island Corsica or French Corse goes back to the Phoenician term Korsai , which roughly means "covered with forests". Occasionally the Greek name for the island Kalliste ("the beautiful one") is assumed to be the root for the current name.

Until late antiquity

The Corsican indigenous people, hunters and gatherers , were born around 6000 BC. Ousted by immigrating Neolithic artists of the Impresso culture . In the south of the island about 3000 BC developed. A multi-phase megalithic culture ( Filitosa ), which also erected numerous menhirs and around 1800 BC. It was replaced by the culture of the Torreaner , who built torren, nuraghe-like towers of their own.

In the 6th century BC First Carthaginian settlers came to the island, then Greek settlers who lived around 565 BC. Founded a branch called Alalia (today's Aléria ). In Greek times the island was called Kύρνος (Kyrnos). The dominant naval powers of this time, Carthage and the Etruscans , jointly defeated the Greeks in the naval battle of Alalia (around 540 BC). After that, Alalia was until the 3rd century BC. Ruled by the Etruscans.

After Carthage regained supremacy for a short time, Alalia became 259 BC. Conquered by the Romans in the First Punic War . With the establishment of the colony Sardinia et Corsica in 227 BC For around 650 years, Corsica became part of the Roman Empire .

Early and High Middle Ages

Even in the final phase of the Western Roman Empire , fights between Vandals and Goths began in the 5th century AD for the island, from which the Vandal King Geiseric emerged victorious. After the conquest of Italy by the Eastern Roman Empire , Corsica became part of the Byzantine exarchate of Carthage in 536 . In the following centuries the island was disputed among different regional powers: Byzantines, Lombards , Saracens , Franks , the Margraves of Tuszien and the maritime republics of Pisa and Genoa only managed to establish themselves in the coastal regions. The attacks by Saracen pirates in particular led to a large part of the population withdrawing into the interior and the island becoming increasingly impoverished. Over time, a feudal system developed . In addition, the Catholic Church also gained political authority at that time .

14th to 18th century

On the Golo in 1769 it was decided that Corsica would become part of France
The bust of Pasquale Paoli in L'Île-Rousse

From the 14th century, Corsica was part of the Republic of Genoa . In 1729, uprisings against the Genoese began for several years. On April 15, 1736, Corsican rebels made the German adventurer Baron Theodor von Neuhoff (1694–1756) their king in the monastery of Alesani in Castagniccia . King Theodore I of Corsica was the only king Corsica ever had. The Kingdom of Corsica hardly existed for a year.

In 1755 independence was proclaimed. Under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli , who is venerated as Babbu di a Patria ("Father of the Fatherland"), the Corsicans created a democratic constitution and a relatively progressive state. The Corsican Constitution of 1755 was the first Constitution of the Age of Enlightenment (before the Constitutions of Poland in 1791 and France in 1791 ). Genoa then sold the island to France, which defeated the Corsican troops in the Battle of Ponte Nuovo in 1769 . Corsica has been French territory ever since, with the exception of a brief period during the French Revolution when the island was part of England . The only temporarily successful striving of the islanders for independence and self-determination occupied the intellectuals of the Enlightenment up to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the American constitutional fathers.

Ajaccio in Corsica is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte , whose parents belonged to the lower Corsican nobility . Corsica was then under French occupation, and Corsican nobles were offered to accept French nobility titles if they could fully prove their origin. To comply with this, his parents traveled to France and sent the young Napoleon to school there.

From the 19th century to the Second World War

Monument to the Resistance in the port of Ajaccio

With the introduction of compulsory schooling loi Ferry (1882), the construction of the railway (1888-1894) and other administrative measures, French rule over the island solidified. French began to displace Corsican (corsu) due to the stronger influence of schools and administration . At the same time, the bitter poverty in many villages forced many Corsicans to emigrate , the wave of emigration reached its peak around 1900. In Marseille , the Quartier du Panier district next to the Old Port (Vieux-Port) developed into the center of the Corsican diaspora , where the island's language and culture were maintained and the villages' close family ties remained. At the same time, the network of the Corsican mafia developed here in the interwar period , whose representatives were active in the arms and drug trade, but also exercised considerable influence in local politics by offering themselves to various political groups as the armed arm. These activities peaked in the 1930s, but persisted in a different form after the Second World War, and in the 1950s and 1960s these networks also influenced French national politics. At the same time, Corsicans benefited in many functions from the expansion of the French colonial empire , on the one hand as soldiers and colonial officials, and on the other hand, by working in the colonies as traders and business people. Many Corsicans also settled in French Algeria, the most important settlement colony of the empire français .

In response to attempts to take over fascist Italy under Mussolini , who declared Corsica an integral part of Italy in 1936, Corsican writers and intellectuals defined Corsican for the first time as an independent language and not as an Italian dialect, as was customary until then, and defined theirs Identity as Corsican, not Italian. This attitude was expressed in the 1938 oath of Bastia, through which the Corsicans swore their affiliation to France and rejected Italian "liberation" efforts. During the Second World War , Corsica was occupied by German troops on November 11, 1942, as a reaction to the landing of Allied troops in North Africa, as was the entire zone libre , the area in southern France ruled by the Vichy regime . Associations of the Free France (FFL) therefore began in April 1943 to arm the island population who fought as partisans against the occupiers. After the fall of Mussolini and the armistice of Cassibile with the Allies, the Italian troops changed sides on September 8, 1943, and on the same day units under the command of General Henri Giraud landed on the island. The Corsican partisans and the soldiers of the FFL liberated the island together by October 4, 1943. The memory of one's own role in the Resistance is very vivid in Corsica to this day.

From 1945 to the present

After 1945, the poor and underdeveloped island was able to benefit modestly from the French economic miracle Trente glorieuses , but this also increased the immigration of mainland French , while at the same time more Corsicans left the island to work on the mainland . The threatened end of the French colonial empire in the 1950s led to economic fears among many Corsicans, so that, unlike in other regions of France, the Putsch d'Alger against the independence of Algeria in May 1958 was met with sympathy. The putsch military planned to expand their uprising with the Opération Résurrection on the island; Corsica subsequently became a center of Gaullism . The hopes placed in Charles de Gaulle were not fulfilled when, after his return and the founding of the Fifth Republic, with the support of the large majority of the French, he agreed to an end to the Algerian war and the independence of Algeria. In the years after independence in 1962, French people who had been expelled and fled from Algeria ( pieds-noirs , literally: black feet) were mainly settled along the east coast, so that the Corsicans feared they would become a minority on their own island. At the same time, the Corsican language was pushed back further and further through its banishment from school and public life.

The increasing fear for one's own identity brought a great boost to the nationalist movement , which initially turned against the actual or supposed preference of the pieds-noirs over the long- established inhabitants of the island. From 1964, and increasingly from 1968, there were attacks on the property of pieds-noirs . In the early 1970s, several political parties emerged as the "legalist" wing of the regionalist movement. One of them, the Front régionaliste corse , published the book Main basse sur une île in 1971 , in which the economic situation of the island was compared with that of a colony and a "Corsican socialism" was called for. Initiatives to preserve and revitalize the Corsican language and culture emerged as part of the Riacquistu (“ reappropriation ”) movement and created a new awareness of Corsican cultural identity.

In connection with the economic difficulties, the nationalist movement radicalized from the mid-1970s. The occupation of the winery of a pied noir winemaker near Aléria in 1975 is considered a beacon of the independence movement . Another demand was the (re) opening of the Corsican university, which had existed in the 18th century under Pasquale Paoli, what 1981 was implemented. Some decentralization measures followed, such as the establishment of the Collectivité régionale with an elected regional parliament in 1982, but the French government strictly rejected demands for bilingualism, autonomy or even independence because they feared that they would threaten the unity of France. Some supporters of Corsican independence, in particular the FLNC , which was founded on May 5, 1976 , tried to force the government to grant independence through bombings and murder.

At the same time, tourism grew rapidly in these years , as Corsica, due to its pristine natural landscapes, became more and more popular, especially with mainland French, Italians and Germans; however, tourism development and the construction of second homes met with - sometimes violent - rejection by the nationalists. In the 1990s the violence escalated in Corsica, when various armed groups fought each other and the mafia organizations on the island tried to gain influence themselves. In February 1998 the Prefect of the island, Claude Erignac , was murdered in Ajaccio: The act startled the French public because the impression was created that the French state had lost control of the situation in Corsica.

In 2000, the then Prime Minister Lionel Jospin agreed to greater autonomy in Corsica in exchange for an end to violence as part of the Matignon trial . This was opposed by the Gaullist opposition in the French National Assembly , who feared that other regions ( Brittany , Basque Country or Alsace ) could also demand autonomy and that this would result in the division of France. The proposed autonomy for Corsica included greater protection of the Corsican as a central point of identification for the island's population. France, however, traditionally rejects the use of regional or minority languages, as the predominance of the French language is seen as a safeguard for the existence of the French state. On July 6, 2003, almost 51% of the Corsicans voted against the Matignon trial in a referendum . Although it was not politically binding, the French government respected the vote and stopped further implementation of the project. The failure was mainly blamed on Jospin; Through negotiations with representatives of the independence movement, he legitimized the violence exercised by parts of the same. At no point did the majority of the islanders support the demand for independence.

Armed groups are largely inactive today. However, in the last few years after the crisis of the 2000s they have regained popularity, partly because of disappointment with the corruption in established politics. In the regional elections in November 2015 , the alliance of moderate (for autonomy) and radical nationalists (for independence) won a majority in the regional parliament, the Assemblée de Corse . In the parliamentary elections in June 2017 , the nationalists won three out of four seats. The region was hit by forest fires in 2017 .

Heap of rubbish on the beach boulevard in Ajaccio, early May 2018

In April and May 2018, the island suffered from a garbage crisis. In previous years, the amount of waste had increased significantly without appropriate administrative measures being taken. In mid-April, the two largest landfills threatened to overflow. The municipalities on whose territory these landfills are located refused to accept any more rubbish and closed the gates of the landfills. In the weeks that followed, piles of rubbish piled up on the streets, and some of them were set on fire. A temporary improvement, but no fundamental solution, resulted when the two landfills reopened on May 9th.

Place names

Most of the names of places, mountains and other geographical points officially designated as “French” have been preserved in their original Italian version to this day. This was a condition when the island of Genoa was sold to France in 1768. The place names are often given in French pronunciation, but unlike the German place names in Alsace , they were neither Frenchized, nor were translations introduced. The terms in Corsican language also exist in many places.


Christianity in Corsica is shaped by the Catholic Church . 92% of the Corsicans belong to it. The diocese of Ajaccio covers the entire island. The United Protestant Church of France has only 230 families in Corsica.


Corsica has traditionally been a bastion of the conservative parties and the political right . The reasons for this lie in the anchoring of Gaullism, the rural and traditional structure of the island and the strong role of the Catholic Church . In all presidential elections between 1965 and 2012, the conservative candidates in Corsica won a majority. Only between 2010 and 2015 was the island ruled by a leftist alliance. An exception was u. a. Bastia, ruled for decades by mayors from the political left . Since the 1970s, Corsican nationalism in its various forms has been gaining influence. The Corsican nationalists are calling for a curb on property speculation by the mainland French, an extension of the Corsican inheritance tax exemption, more money to promote Corsican and greater promotion of the Corsican economy and fisheries. The National Front has also gained influence in national elections in recent years, and Marine Le Pen won the most votes in both Corsican departments in the 2017 presidential election . This is explained by the negative attitude of the Corsicans towards immigration (see above); At the same time, this party, which is strictly against regional self-determination rights or the recognition of minority languages ​​such as Corsican, hardly plays a role in regional elections.

In the 2015 regional elections , the nationalists (Pé a Corsica) became the strongest party in the island's regional parliament (Assemblée de Corse) for the first time with 35 percent . The moderate autonomists and the radical separatists formed an electoral alliance. The previous mayor of Bastia, Gilles Simeoni, has also headed the regional government since 2016 (Conseil exécutif) . The nationwide struggle of the Front National (FN) against socialists (PS) and conservatives (LR) in France played only a minor role in Corsica.

Result of the election of the Assemblé de Corse (51 seats in total) on December 13, 2015:

The Corsican coat of arms

The Corsican coat of arms on the portal of a railway tunnel

The Corsican coat of arms shows the head of a Moor with frizzy hair and a white headband. This coat of arms is actually a symbol of freedom of the Corsicans, but it is not certain who is represented. There are numerous legends about the origin and meaning of the symbol.

According to one legend, a Moorish ruler kidnapped a young Corsican woman to Spain in the 13th century. Her Corsican fiancé followed to rescue her, whereupon the Moor sent one of his bravest loyal followers into battle against him. However, the Corsican cut off the head of the Moors and held it up as a sign of triumph.

Another explanation goes in the direction of the reforms of Pascal Paoli : Similar to the neighboring island of Sardinia , the Corsican coat of arms originally showed a blindfolded head of the Moor. Pascal Paoli moved the bandage towards the forehead and also removed the earring , because both were considered a sign of slavery , from which the Corsicans had freed themselves through his reforms.

Economy and Infrastructure

There is no real large- scale industry in Corsica. The manufacturing industry is essentially limited to agricultural products , construction and services . Most of the products made on the island, such as the traditional local pocket knives, are sold on the spot to tourists. In comparison with the GDP of the European Union in terms of purchasing power standards , Corsica achieved an index of 85.8 in 2006 (EU-27 100). In 2017 the unemployment rate was 7.8%.


Despite the ideal natural potential, Corsica is relatively little developed for tourism. The Corsican population feared that further development through mass tourism could endanger the independence of Corsican culture. According to Corsican tradition, the beach is generally accessible everywhere; there are hardly any larger hotel complexes or hotels with foreign owners. On the east coast there are numerous nudist resorts and beaches south of Phare d'Alistro and south of Porto-Vecchio . In 1995, 73% of all tourists visiting Corsica were mainland French. 38% of all houses and apartments are used as second homes ; this is a lot compared to the French average.


Road traffic

Typical mountain road

The roads in Corsica are very different in terms of width and quality. In the rocky area of ​​the west coast and in the mountains, there are sometimes very narrow roads in poor condition that can only be used as single lanes. In some cases it is not possible to drive on with mobile homes. The traffic situation on the flat east coast is slightly better. There are sometimes well-developed expressways between the larger cities. In 2016, the degree of motorization (passenger cars per 1000 inhabitants) was 558.

Rail transport

The railroad opens up the island with only two routes. The Chemins de fer de la Corse (CFC) - a subsidiary of the French state railway SNCF - is the only railway company in Corsica.

The routes, consistently as a single-track narrow - gauge railway , connect the two port cities of Bastia on the east coast and Ajaccio on the west coast. In addition, the north coast of the island with the port city of Calvi will be developed. The total length is 231 km.

air traffic

Corsica has airports in the following cities:

The larger airlines that fly to Corsica are Air France and Air Corsica as well as Eurowings , TUIfly , Lufthansa and easyJet from the German-speaking region .


Ferry from Corsica Ferries

The ferry ports of Ajaccio, Porto-Vecchio , Propriano and Bonifacio serve southern Corsica, while those in Bastia, Calvi and L'Île-Rousse mainly connect northern Corsica with mainland Europe.

There are car ferry connections, for example, from Marseille , Nice and Toulon in France and from Sardinia , Savona Vado , Livorno and Genoa in Italy. The main shipping companies are Moby Lines and Corsica Ferries .


Logo of France Bleu Corse RCFM

In Ajaccio and Bastia, strong medium wave and VHF transmitters are installed for the France Bleu RCFM ("Radio Corse Frequency Mora") program, the regional edition of Radio France .

  • Ajaccio  : 97.0 MHz (4 kW), 100.5 MHz (10 kW), 1404 kHz (20 kW)
  • Bastia  : 101.7 MHz (10 kW), 1494 kHz (20 kW)

From Cervione , the ADECEC ( Association pour le Développement des Etudes Archéologiques, Historiques, Linguistiques et Naturalistes du Center-Est de la Corse - "Association for the development of archaeological, historical, linguistic and nature studies of Central-Eastern Corsica") broadcasts with the station Voce Nustrale a program exclusively in Corsican language on 105.1 and 95.1 MHz.


Since 2016, the sponsored top-level domain .corsica has been reserved for people, institutions or companies wishing to demonstrate their connection with Corsica . The TLD is managed by the Collectivité Territoriale de Corse , the Corsican local authority.


Food / kitchen

Free range pig in Corsica
Brocciu , a whey cheese
Corsican beer made with chestnut flour

Corsica has a very rich and mostly hearty cuisine. Typical are the often semi-wild domestic pigs that run freely in the forest or in the maquis and feed on chestnuts, acorns and beechnuts. Your meat is then smoked over chestnut wood. Corsican meat specialties are:

There are numerous types of sheep and goat cheese , for example brocciu , a whey cheese made from sheep or goat milk.


A great variety of wines is produced in Corsica: red wine , rosé , white wine , still and sparkling, dry and sweet. The relief and different soils are responsible for this diversity. Vines are cultivated up to a height of approx. 300 m. The grape varieties Cinsault , Carignan , Grenache , Ugni Blanc and Syrah are traditionally used . Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon , Chardonnay , Viognier , Merlot and Pinot Noir added. The varieties Niellucciu , Sciaccarellu and Vermentinu are of regional importance .

Wines from eight wine-growing regions are allowed to carry the AOC rating . These appellations are:

  • Ajaccio - AOC Coteaux d'Ajaccio : West coast north from Sartène to Ajaccio, main grape varieties: Sciaccarellu, Grenache, Verentinu
  • Balagne - AOC Calvi Balagne : between Calvi and the Désert des Agriates, sandy clay soils, main grape varieties: Syrah, Sciaccarellu, Vermentinu, Ugni Blanc
  • Cap Corse - AOC Coteaux du Cap Corse : the rugged rock peninsula north of Bastia, main grape varieties: Niellucciu, Grenache, Malvoisie, Vermentinu, Muscatellu
  • Cote orientale - AOC Vin de Corse : the east coast between Bastia and Solenzara. Main grape varieties: Niellucciu and Vermentinu
  • Figari - AOC Figari-Pianottoli : southern tip of Corsica, main grape varieties: Carcajolo, Barbarossa, Sciaccarellu, Malvoisie de Corse
  • Patrimonio - AOC Patrimonio : Area between Cap Corse and the Désert des Agriates, schisty sand and clay soils, main grape varieties: Nielluciu, Grenache, Vermentinu
  • Porto-Vecchio - AOC Porto-Vecchio : Area around Porto-Vecchio, granite floors, main grape varieties: Niellucciu, Sciaccarellu, Malvoisie de Corse
  • Sartène - AOC Sartène : around Sartène in the southwest of Corsica, clay and pebble soils, main grape varieties: Niellucciu, Sciaccarellu, Barbarossa, Cinsault, Vermentinu

More drinks


Paghjella is the polyphonic male song of traditional Corsican folk music . The middle voice carries the melody , the second, lower voice forms the accompaniment , the third and highest voice sings the coloratura . The groups I Muvrini and A Filetta stand in this tradition .


Cycling / motorcycling

Corsica is particularly popular with cyclists and motorcyclists , not least because of the combination of mountain roads and sea views. The road cyclists appreciate the island the training effect of the challenging mountain passes .

Hiking / climbing

The extensive GR 20 long-distance hiking trail with numerous climbing sections attracts a large number of hikers. Since the beginning of the 21st century, climbing has become increasingly important. The numerous bizarre rock formations, also known as "Tafoni", are extremely easy to grip. The most famous climbing centers are the Restonica Valley and the Bavella Pass .


Despite the southern location, ski operations can be maintained in some places in winter. At the Col de Vergio between Porto and Calacuccia, below Monte Renoso near Ghisoni (Capannelle), and on the Plateau d'Ese northeast of Bastelica, there are three smaller ski areas with three to six drag lifts each. A ski area near Haut-Asco north of Monte Cinto has not been in operation since the winter of 1997/98 because the main ski lift was damaged by a rock fall. Cross-country skiing can be done on the Plateau de Coscione between Zicavu and Monte Incudine and above Évisa.


With Gazélec FC Ajaccio , AC Ajaccio , CA Bastia and SC Bastia, the island has four football clubs in the French league .

Tour de France

2013 guested Tour de France with her 100th edition for the first time in Corsica. As part of the so-called Grand Départ (great descent), the Grande Boucle began with three stages on the Mediterranean island:

  • 1st stage on Saturday, June 29th, over 200 km from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia
  • 2nd stage on Sunday, June 30th, 155 km from Bastia to Ajaccio
  • 3rd stage on Monday 1st July, over 145 km from Ajaccio to Calvi


The occurrence of schistosomiasis (schistosomiasis) in Corsica has been proven with certainty since 2011 . Affected are people who have had contact with the water of the Cavo river near the town of Sainte-Lucie-de-Porto-Vecchio north of Porto-Vecchio in the south-east of Corsica. Cases have been diagnosed among locals and tourists. This outbreak of schistosomiasis has now disappeared in Corsica (as of 2017).



Web links

Wiktionary: Corsica  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Corse - Corsica  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Météo-France
  2. Jean Michel Barrault: The ports around Corsica, Elba and Sardinia (= A guide for sport boaters) . Delius Klasing & Co, Bielefeld 1977, ISBN 978-3-7688-0252-9 .
  3. 'Nymphalis ichnusa' Hübner, 1824. On: ; last accessed on August 24, 2014.
  4. Plutarch, eulogies used by the Alexandrians, edd.Leutsch, Schneidewin, Göttingen 1839: <Κυρνία ἄτη:> Κύρνος νῆσος ἦν πάλαι ἄβατος τοῖς πλέουσι τῃῃτῖςνσενσυ ῃὰὰ ςνσσν νχχὰς Cretan calamity: Crete was an island, from ancient times untrodden by sailors because of the cohesion of the robbers.
  5. Jörg Fisch (Ed.): The distribution of the world. Self-determination and the right of peoples to self-determination . Oldenbourg, Munich 2011, especially p. 47
  6. Crise des déchets. Source est la situation in Corse? In: Corse Matin . May 8, 2018 (French, [accessed May 13, 2018]).
  7. Crise des déchets - Les poubelles flambent à Bastia . In: France 3 Corse ViaStella . May 5, 2018 (French, [accessed May 13, 2018]).
  8. Crise des déchets en Corse: normalization d'ici trois semaines . In: Europe 1 . May 9, 2018 (French, [accessed May 13, 2018]).
  9. ^ EPU de Corse
  10. Michaela Wiegel: For the rebirth of Corsica., December 15, 2015, accessed December 15, 2015
  11. Résultats régionales 2015 on, accessed on January 11, 2016
  12. Eurostat press release 23/2009: Regional GDP per inhabitant in the EU27 (PDF; 360 kB)
  13. Unemployment rate, by NUTS 2 regions. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .
  14. National statistical office INSEE: Statistics on the population, open the PDF here. Retrieved September 16, 2018 (French).
  16. Voce Nustrale ,, accessed on September 11, 2017
  17. [1] ,, accessed on September 27, 2017.
  18. Chalet du Val d'Ese , accessed on May 8, 2020.
  19. Le Grand Départ 2013 en Corse ( Memento of July 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (official website of the Tour de France)
  20. RKI : Schistosomiasis: Increase in cases of illness among travelers to South Corsica . In: Epidemiological Bulletin . No. 20, 2014. Short message from the RKI on the occurrence of schistosomes in southern Corsica from May 19, 2014, last accessed on June 17, 2014.
  21. Marton Szell: Schistosomiasis (schistosomiasis) on Corsica . On: of July 11, 2014, last accessed on September 4, 2018.

Coordinates: 42 ° 9 '  N , 9 ° 5'  E