Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean lying to the north of Sardinia, from which it is separated by the Straits of Bonifacio, now a department of France, to which it has belonged since 1814, divided into five arrondissements, containing sixty-two cantons and 363 communes. The island contains 3,380 square miles, and is 116 miles long by 52 broad, being 54 miles W. of Tuscany, 98 S. of Genoa, and 106 S.W. of Nice. The surface is generally mountainous, central ranges running through the island from N. to S. and dividing it into two natural districts. The principal heights are Cinto, Rotondo, and Pagli-Orba, which rise to a height of between 8,000 and 9,000 feet. To the south and west spurs jut out into the sea and form bays and harbours. On the east are alluvial plains with lagoons and swamps, and much of this region is fruitful in olives, almonds, figs, and vines. The rocks are chiefly granite, gneiss, and mica slate. Though antimony, copper, and lead are to be found, the minerals are little worked. There are several rivers, but they are short, and not navigable. The longest is Golo on the N.E. coast, which flows through the salt-water lake of Biguglia. The west coast is broken and indented with many harbours, of which the chief is Ajaccio. The east coast is much more regular, and the only harbours of importance are Bastia, towards the N.; Porto Vecchio, S.E.; and the harbour of Bonifacio in the S., with a town of the same name. The summits and slopes of the hills are covered with fine forests and by thick tangled brushwood called "maquis" or "macchia," which afford shelter to brigands who are driven to the woods by the exigencies of the vendetta. This peculiar Corsican institution has been well described by Prosper Merimee in Columba, and its more modern aspect is set forth in Mr. Barnes of New York. The island does not produce much corn, but the olive and vine are largely cultivated, and oil and wine are exported, as well as chestnuts, honey, and wax. The mountain pastures are good. The moufflon or wild sheep is found. Besides cattle rearing, the other chief industries are the tunny, pilchard, and anchovy fisheries. However, most of the work of the island is carried on by foreigners. Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica, though Bastia is a more important town. Other towns are Corte and Sartene. The island has passed through many hands; the Moor's head, which is the badge of the island, and the Genoese patois which prevails among the people, mark some of its vicissitudes.