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Corsica

miles, island, coast, french, numerous, british, north, principal, france and south

CORSICA (Fr. Corse), an island in the Mediterranean belonging to France. It is se arated from the island of Sardinia, on the south,by the Strait of Bonifacio, about 10 miles wide, and its shortest distance from the mainland is 50 miles. It is distant from France about 100 miles. It is somewhat irregular in shape, but tolerably compact, except toward the north, where it terminates in a long and narrow tongue of land about 22 miles long by about six miles broad. Greatest length, north to south, 110 miles; greatest breadth, near its centre, 53 miles; area, 3,367 square miles. The east coast is remarkable for its uniformity, presenting a line which is broken in only one or two places by comparatively small indentations. To this the west coast presents a striking contrast, a number of deep bays following each other in rapid and almost uninterrupted succession. Of these the most important proceeding north to south, are the gulfs of §aint Fiorenzo, Calvi, Porto, Liscia, Ajaccio and Valinco. The interior is traversed by a mountain chain, which has its principal direction north to south, but throws out several lateral branches, particularly to the northwest. The highest summits are near the centre of the island, including Monte Cinto, 8,881 feet, and Monte Rotondo, 8,612, while others exceed considerably 7,000 feet and the greater part of the year are covered with snow. The mountain masses are chiefly composed of granite and porphyry, and appear to be generally overlaid by extensive beds of limestone. From the east and west sides of the chain numerous streams descend to the opposite sides of the coast. They are mere torrents, short and rapid, and altogether unfit for navigation. The largest. are the Golo and Tavignano. Along the river mouths large quantities of debris and alluvium have accumulated which, preventing the egress of the waters, have gradually formed on the east coast a series of lagoons and morasses and made that part of the island very unhealthy; but with this exception the climate is one of the finest in Europe. The heat is sometimes exces sive, but the sky is generally clear and the air bracing. The summits of its many lofty moun tains are covered with pines, evergreen oaks, cork-trees, beeches and chestnuts. In other parts the hillsides are overgrown with dense thickets of cistus, myrtles, arbutus and other shrubs. Numerous valleys lie between the lofty ridges, and sometimes plains of considerable extent occur, the soil of which is generally fertile and well adapted for the growth of all the ordinary cereals. Agriculture is in a back yard state, and the island produces scarcely a sufficient amount for local consumption. Large tracts of land are uncultivated; the farming implements in use are of the crudest form. The slopes are covered with vineyards, and the olive trees appear to be indigenous. The mulberry, orange and citron succeed well, particularly in the lower valleys near the coast. One of the most valuable productions of the more elevated districts is the chestnut, on which, at least during the winter months, the poorer inhabitants prin cipally subsist. Among domestic animals, the

first place for usefulness and is due to mules and goats. The principal wild animals are the boar and the fox. Deer are numerous and all the smaller game and wild fowl are common; eagles, vultures and numerous other birds of prey frequent the mountains, and fish abound. The principal source of mineral reve nue is derived from quarries of fine granite, porphyry and marble. Neither manufactures nor trade have made mucli progress. The chief exports are wine, brandy, olive-oil, chestnuts, fruit and fish. The inhabitants have the reputa tion of being haughty in temper, passionate and revengeful. Corsica is one of the coun tries in which the vendetta obtains, the taking of private vengeance for the blood of a rela tive, of which a striking picture is to be found in Mcrimee's (Colomba.) From the Phoenicians, its first colonists, the took the name of Cyrnos; and from the Romans that of Corsica. On the decline of the Roman empire it was seized by the Goths and passed from them to the Saracens. In 1481 it fell under the dominion of the Genoese, who retained it, with some interruption, till 1755, when a great part of it was wrested from them and made independent by the celebrated Gen eral Paoli. France, claiming it on a pretended cession by the Genoese, obtained forcible pos sion of it in 1768, after the inhabitants had distinguished themselves by a long and valiant resistance. At the time of the French revolu tion, Paoli, who had taken refuge in England, returned to his native land, and unfurling the banner of the death's head .(the old Corsican arms), he summoned his countrymen to strike for their independence. With the assistance of the British, who landed 18 Feb. 1794, he reduced Bastia in May and Calvi in August. Corsica was constituted a kingdom under the government of a viceroy (General Elliot) ; the constitution and laws of Great Britain were adopted, and a parliament such as Ireland had was established. But a large part of the people were averse to the British, whom they regarded as heretics, and the French party again ap peared on the island in October 1796, under General Gentili. Sickness had reduced consid erably the effective force of the British, and their position was rendered still more critical by the French occupation of the neighboring city of Leghorn, and in consequence they evacuated Corsica. In 1814 it was again in 'British occu pation. Since 1815 the island has formed a French. department. For administrative pur poses the department is divided into five arron dissements— Ajaccio (the capital), Bastia, Calvi, Corte and Sartene, subdivided into cantons and 364 communes. The most dis tinguished individuals to whom Corsica has given birth are Paoli and Napoleon. Pop. 288,820. Consult Caird, The History of Cor sica> (1899).