Corsica (Fr. Corse), an island in the Mediterranean, about 100 m. S. E. of the coast of France, of which it forms a department, 50 m. W. of Tuscany, and separated on the south from the island of Sardinia by the strait of Bonifacio, 7 m. wide. It lies between lat. 41° 20' and 43° N., and lon. 8° 32' and 9° 34' E.; greatest length, 116 m.; greatest breadth, 52 m.; area, 3,377 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 258,507. The E. coast is low and of regular outline; the W. is high and broken by numerous bays and harbors, the chief of which are those of San Fiorenzo, Calvi, Porto, Sagone, Ajaccio, and Valinco. The interior is traversed from N. to S. by a granitic range with many summits more than 7,000 ft. high, wrapped in never-melting snows, while the culminating peak, Monte Rotondo, in the centre of the island, has an elevation of 9,054 ft. There are many small rivers, none navigable, and all having a rapid descent to the sea. The two largest are the Golo and Tavignano, which have an E. course. Along the E. coast, which is generally marshy, there are several lagoons, the most extensive being the Stagno di Bigu-glia, in the north, S. of the port of Bastia. Except in the region of these marshes, the climate is healthy.
The hills are covered with forests of oak, pine, cork, beech, chestnut, larch, turpentine and wild olive trees, etc. The date palm, orange, citron, fig, almond, pomegranate, and mulberry flourish; the olive is cultivated; honey and wax are obtained in large quantities from the forests; the fertile plains, slopes, and valleys produce wheat, maize, barley, cotton, sugar, indigo, tobacco, madder, and the grape; but the wine, amounting to about 6,600,000 gallons a year, is carelessly made and poor in quality. The principal minerals are lead, iron, black manganese, asbestos, granite, marble, emeralds, and pipe clay. Iron is mined in several places, and the product is sufficient to supply 10 forges, which are situated at Catalane. The most valuable domestic animals are the mule and goat; the sheep are small, with coarse black wool, and four or even six horns, but are prized for their delicate flesh. Among the wild animals are the moufflon, or wild sheep, fox, wild boar, deer, hare, and various kinds of game. The coasts afford valuable fisheries of tunny, pilchards, and anchovies. The manufactures are few and of little value, consisting mainly of woollen for domestic consumption, glass, leather, tobacco pipes, and soap. Timber is exported, many fine pines being taken to France for masts.
The other exports are wines the red of Sara and the white of Cape Corso, oil, silk, dried fruits, and leather. The Corsicans are hospitable, temperate, and brave, but indolent, impetuous, and vindictive; human life, although more secure than in former times, is still frequently sacrificed in the heat of passion or revenge. The predominant religion is the Roman Catholic, and the principal language Italian. The cottages, built chiefly on steep hillsides, are often little more than four bare walls, with a single opening, which serves for both door and window, and occasionally a second story, the ascent to which is by a ladder. They have no fireplaces, and the furniture is as rough as the building. The roads in the interior are generally poor, but there are four good roads across the island, made by the French, and there is communication by steam with Marseilles, Toulon, and Leghorn. There is a submarine telegraph from the north of the island to Spezia on the Italian coast, one from near Ajaccio on the W. coast to Toulon, and one under the strait of Bonifacio to Sardinia. Corsica is divided into the arrondissements of Ajaccio, Sartena, Bas-tia, Calvi, and Corte. Capital, Ajaccio. Principal seaport, Bastia. The other chief towns are Calvi on the N. W. coast, Corte in the interior, Sartena, Porto Yecchio, and Bonifacio in the south. - Corsica seems to have been first settled by Ligurians. It was held successively by the Ligurians, Etruscans, and Carthaginians; was ravaged by the Romans in 259 B. C, and was subjugated by them about 230. On the dismemberment of the empire it fell into the hands of the Goths. It became subject to the Franks in the 8th century, to the Saracens in the 9th, and to Pisa in the 11th; was annexed to the Papal States by Gregory VII.; passed again under the power of Pisa, afterward of Genoa, then of Aragon; and finally became in the 14th century a possession of the Genoese, who held it till the 18th, when it became a scene of revolutions, during which a German adventurer, Theodor von Neuhof, was proclaimed king of the island.
After his fall the Corsicans under Gen. Paoli achieved their independence, but in 1769 they were subdued by the French. (See Paoli.) In 1793 Paoli, assisted by the English, drove out the new masters, and the island was placed under the protection of the British crown; but in 1796 the patriots were again subdued, and in 1814 the island was secured to France by the treaty of Paris. Corsica has produced several eminent men, and above all Napoleon. - See Jacobi's Histoire generate de la Corse (Paris, 1835), and Gregorovius's Corsica (2 vols., Stuttgart, 1854; English ed., London and Phil-adelphia, 1855).