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Corsica, or Corse in French, the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean, stretches 183 kilometers in length and 83 kilometers in width, with over 1,000 kilometers of coastline and more than 200 beaches. Its highest peak, Monte Cinto, reaches a height of approximately 2,706 meters. The island is predominantly mountainous, with mountains covering two-thirds of its landmass, interspersed with forests covering 20% of the surface. In terms of nature, Corsica houses considerable biodiversity, including avian species such as the bearded vulture, reptiles, amphibians, and European pond turtles in its waters.[3] Thus, within the island can be found the Corsica Regional Natural Park, which currently encompasses almost 51% of Corsica's land area, totaling 440,200 hectares.[4] Corsica's history can be traced back to the 3rd millennium BCE, evidenced by dolmens and other megalithic monuments indicating human occupation. Later, Greek colonization took place around 560 BCE, succeeded by Carthaginian rule and eventual Roman conquest in the 3rd century BCE.[1] Corsica's capital city, Ajaccio, is located on the island's western coast. Beyond its historical and cultural heritage, the city is also known as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Buonaparte family owned a four-story residence in the town, which is currently preserved as the Maison Bonaparte museum, serving as one of the local tourist attractions.[2]

What Corse is known for

The Corsica area offers a variety of attractions, ensuring a diverse experience for visitors. In Corsica, it is possible to explore the Romanesque chapels dotting the landscape of Castagniccia, as well as the Baroque churches in Bastia and the fortifications of Bonifacio, all of which bear witness to the island's history. Moreover, residents have established museums, preserved archaeological sites, and hosted vibrant music and theater festivals, providing opportunities for cultural enrichment and entertainment for visitors.[11] One of the predominant destinations is Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, offering a blend of historical significance and natural beauty. The city is known as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, with Maison Bonaparte serving as a museum showcasing his family's history. Ajaccio's old town features architectural landmarks, such as Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption. Additionally, the city's coastal location makes it a gateway to explore the Valinco Gulf region, with boat trips available to Iles Sanguinaires. Moreover, the harbor area offers a setting to try local seafood. Traveling west from Ajaccio provides coastal vistas along the Lava Gulf, highlighting Corsica's nature.[6]

The Scandola Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated southwest of Calvi, can be found in close proximity to Ajaccio on the Cape Girolata peninsula along Corsica's west coast. It encompasses around 900 hectares of land and 1,000 hectares of sea. Accessing Scandola by car is not possible, and reaching it on foot involves traversing steep mountains, making boat trips from Calvi the only practical way to experience the protected area. The local coastal scenery is characterized by rock formations emerging from the clear sea, jagged inlets, and caves. Moreover, boat trips offer opportunities to spot dolphins and other marine life, although sightings are not guaranteed.[7]

Apart from the protected areas, Corsica features a diverse array of coastal landscapes. Its shores feature clear waters, stretches of sandy beaches, secluded coves, and granite cliffs inhabited by seabirds, spanning over 1,000 kilometers. During the peak summer months, coves for diving, fishing, or swimming tend to draw visitors to the area.[8] Furthermore, Corse presents an array of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, on account of its diverse terrain. It serves as a destination for a range of pursuits year-round, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, hang gliding, winter sports, motorbike or bicycle tours, and exploring the local villages, to name a few.[9] To uncover Corsica's nature, travelers can embark on the GR20 long-distance trail, reportedly known as one of the world's "most picturesque" hiking routes. It traverses the island from north to south, including Mount Cinto, Corsica's highest peak at 2,710 meters. Along the way, it is possible to encounter natural wonders such as the Massif de Bavella and its "Trou de la Bombe" rock formation. Alternatively, one can explore the "Mare a Mare" path from Porto-Vecchio to Propriano or embark on the "Mare e Monti" trail linking Calenzana to Cargèse.[10]


Corsica, or Corse, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a product of geological processes spanning millions of years. The island showcases a diverse natural landscape characterized by its mountains, formed around 250 million years ago through the uplift of granite on its western side. Over time, sedimentary rock pressed against this granite, giving rise to the schists that define the island's eastern flank. This juxtaposition of geological formations contributes to Corsica's reputation as the "mountain in the sea." As the 4th-largest island in the Mediterranean, Corsica spans 183 kilometers in length and 83 kilometers in width, offering over 1,000 kilometers of coastline with more than 200 beaches. Monte Cinto, towering as the highest peak, reaches a height of 2,706 meters. Generally, mountains account for two-thirds of the island's landmass, forming a continuous chain interspersed with forests covering twenty percent of Corsica's surface. In terms of Corsica's ecology, up to 600 meters, the coastal zone has a Mediterranean climate and sparse forests, altered by agriculture. The temperate montane zone lies between 600 and 1,800 meters, with cooler, wetter conditions supporting diverse broadleaf and mixed forests. Beyond 1,800 meters, the high alpine zone offers rugged, uninhabited terrain. Corsica's biodiversity includes avian species such as the bearded vulture, reptiles, and amphibians, including the Corsican brook salamander. Moreover, its waters host European pond turtles.[3]

The Corsica Regional Natural Park, established in 1972 and renewed in 2018, engages the Corsican Community, public municipal cooperation establishments, and municipalities in a coordinated effort. The park's mission centers on conserving and promoting its biodiversity and cultural assets through sustainable development initiatives. A key focus is reviving rural areas, particularly in the interior, by supporting mountain breeding, improving housing, and restoring heritage. The park facilitates hiking activities with extensive trail networks and lodging options, encouraging tourism while respecting the environment. Preservation efforts extend to rare plant species and endemic formations such as "pozzine," alongside protection measures for threatened fauna, including mouflon and osprey. Additionally, the park safeguards sensitive sites, traditional architecture, and archaeological areas.[4]

In Corsica, May and October typically offer weather with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C. July and August are generally the warmest months, while February tends to be the coldest, with an average maximum temperature of 13°C. However, actual temperatures can vary based on specific locations within the region. October, November, and December often see higher precipitation chances, with November being the wettest month. Dry periods typically occur in June, July, and August. Additionally, August features the highest temperatures, with an average maximum temperature of 28°C.[5]


The history of Corsica dates back to at least the 3rd millennium BCE, with evidence of human occupation seen in dolmens and other megalithic monuments. Greek colonization began around 560 BCE, followed by Carthaginian domination and Roman conquest in the 3rd century BCE. Corsica developed under Roman rule, adopting the Latin language. Subsequent invasions by the Vandals, Lombards, and Arabs disrupted the island's stability until the Byzantine Empire's nominal control in the 6th century. Later, Corsica became a battleground between Pisa, Genoa, and Aragon, with periods of native rebellion. Genoese rule, marked by corruption and the vendetta tradition, persisted until the 18th century.[1]

Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the presumably best-known French people, was born in 1769 in Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, hailing from a prominent family with connections to Corsican politics. Educated in France, he began his military career, rising through the ranks during the French Revolution. His complex relationship with Corsican politics and strategic military successes shaped his ascent to power as Emperor of France. Despite his eventual defeat and exile, Napoleon's influence endured, leaving a lasting impact on not only Corsican history but the history of France as well. Ajaccio later became a tourist destination in the 19th century.[2]

In the modern era, Corsica reportedly experienced neglect under Napoleon's rule and was marginalized by the French state after his reign. Despite economic challenges, Corsica gradually became more integrated into French culture with the help of education, job opportunities, and transportation. Participation in the French Empire further strengthened ties with France, although nationalist sentiments emerged. World War I and II brought both devastation and moments of liberation, shaping Corsica's role in the conflict. Post-war tensions, exacerbated by immigration and environmental issues, culminated in the rise of Corsican nationalism, marked by sporadic violence and political activism. Today, Corsica continues to navigate its complex identity within the French Republic, balancing aspirations for autonomy or independence with its cultural heritage and societal challenges, as evidenced by recent protests, natural disasters, and ongoing political debates.[3]