Corsica , Fr. Corse, island (1990 pop. 251,000), 3,352 sq mi (8,682
sq km), a region of metropolitan France, SE of France and N of Sardinia,
in the Mediterranean Sea. Ajaccio, the capital, and Bastia are the
chief towns and ports. The island is largely mountainous, culminating
in Monte Cinto (8,891 ft/2,710 m). Corsica is divided into two administrative
departments. French is the official language, but most Corsicans
also speak a dialect akin to Italian.
Much of the island is wild, covered by dense shrubs called maquis,
whose flowers produce a fragrance that carries far out to sea and
has earned for Corsica the name the scented isle. The
maquis also long provided hideouts for bandits, and banditry was
not suppressed until the 1930s. Blood feuds between clans also persisted
into modern times.
Fruit, cork, cigarettes, wine, and cheese are the main exports.
Much wheat is produced, and sheep are raised. Tourism is important,
with good air and sea transport from continental France.