A Set of Beautiful Beaches
Corsica is situated 160km (99miles) off the southern coast of France in the gulf of Genoa, but it is actually closer - 80km(50 miles) - to Italy and was in Italian possession until 1768 when it was purchased by France. The island's diverse coast of 1,000km (620miles) has a mix of rugged cliffs as well as some of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean with beautiful half-moon bays and picturesque villages. There are no high rise developments along the coast as buildings are restricted to a maximum two stories and not allowed to encroach too closely upon the beach.
An Inland Boasting a Miscellaneous Scenery
Inland further diverse landscapes can be found. Driving up the steep climbs and around sharp hairpin bends through the jagged mountains can be exhilarating. Half of these mountains are snow-capped for almost the entire year. The mid-level mountains are covered in maquis - a mix of harsh and resilient bushes including broom, gorse, juniper, laurel, lentisk and myrtle mixed with the strong aroma-giving plants like asphodel, cistus, heather, lavender, thyme and sage (which provide the spice in Corsican cooking). Pine and chestnut forests cover the craggy mountains and olive groves fill the valleys.
A Heterogeneous Economy
Almost half of the population is concentrated in the two major towns and in the interior of the country many communes are suffering from depopulation and few activities exist outside of agriculture. Communes close to the motorways generally have only few shops or services and people here drive to work in the major towns. The island's two major activities are agriculture and tourism. The major agricultural products are clementines (99% of France's production), almonds (42%), chestnuts (21%), kiwis(17,3%), and olive oil (12,9%). The island is most popular with Italian holiday-home owners, although there are signs of an increased interest from those from further afield.
A Strong Regional Identity
Corsicans are known for being intimate in community but to strangers very reserved and some outsiders could find the taciturn people unapproachable... The family is paramount to the people. The language Corsu is more closely related to Italian and many people are working to keep it alive, evidenced in the bilingual or exclusively Corsu street and shop signs about the island.The population's relationship with the mainland is uneasy and a nationalist movement is in constant and sometimes violent conflict with central government. It is easy to understand some of the bad feeling as the Corsicans are proud of their language, culture and traditions. Today it is a heavily subsidised region, both by central government and the EU.
- Population: 260,196
- Pop.density (people per km2): 30