Corsica (//; Corsican: [ˈkorsiɡa], Italian: [ˈkɔrsika]; French: Corse, [kɔʁs] (listen)) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and politically one of the 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies southeast of the French mainland, west of the Italian Peninsula, and immediately north of the Italian island of Sardinia, the land mass nearest to it. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.
The island is a territorial collectivity of France. The regional capital is Ajaccio. Although the region is divided into two administrative departments, Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud, their respective regional and departmental territorial collectivities were merged on 1 January 2018 to form the single territorial collectivity of Corsica. As such, Corsica enjoys a greater degree of autonomy than other French regional collectivities, for example the Corsican Assembly is permitted to exercise limited executive powers. Corsica’s second-largest town is Bastia, the prefecture city of Haute-Corse.
Corsica was ruled by the Republic of Genoa from 1284 to 1755, when it became a self-proclaimed Italian-speaking Republic. In 1768, Genoa officially ceded it to Louis XV of France as part of a pledge for debts and in 1769 France forcibly annexed it. Napoleon Bonaparte was a native Corsican, born that same year in Ajaccio, and his ancestral home, Maison Bonaparte, is today a significant visitor attraction and museum. Because of Corsica's historical ties to the Italian peninsula, the island retains many Italian cultural elements, and the native tongue is recognized as a regional language by the French government.
In 1972, the Italian company Montedison dumped toxic waste off the Corsican coast, creating what looked like red mud in waters around the island with the poisoning of the sea, the most visible effects being cetaceans found dead on the shores. At that time the Corsican people felt that the French government did not support them. To stop the poisoning, one ship carrying toxic waste from Italy was bombed.
Nationalist organisations started to seek money, using tactics similar to those of the Mafia, to fund violence. Some groups that claim to support Corsican independence, such as the National Liberation Front of Corsica, have carried out a violent campaign since the 1970s that includes bombings and assassinations, usually targeting buildings and officials representing the French government or Corsicans themselves for political reasons. A war between two rival independence groups led to several deaths in the 1990s. The peaceful occupation of a pied-noir vineyard in Aléria in 1975 marked a turning point when the French government responded with overwhelming force, generating sympathy for the independence groups among the Corsican population.
In 2000, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin agreed to grant increased autonomy to Corsica. The proposed autonomy for Corsica would have included greater protection for the Corsican language (Corsu), the island's traditional language, whose practice and teaching, like other regional or minority languages in France, had been discouraged in the past. According to the UNESCO classification, the Corsican language is currently in danger of becoming extinct. However, plans for increased autonomy were opposed by the Gaullist opposition in the Lionel Jospin agreed to grant increased autonomy to Corsica. The proposed autonomy for Corsica would have included greater protection for the Corsican language (Corsu), the island's traditional language, whose practice and teaching, like other regional or minority languages in France, had been discouraged in the past. According to the UNESCO classification, the Corsican language is currently in danger of becoming extinct. However, plans for increased autonomy were opposed by the Gaullist opposition in the French National Assembly, who feared that they would lead to calls for autonomy from other régions (such as Brittany, Alsace, or Provence), eventually threatening France's unity as a country.
In a referendum on 6 July 2003, a narrow majority of Corsican voters opposed a proposal by the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin and then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy that would have suppressed the two départements of the island and granted greater autonomy to the territorial collectivity of Corsica.
On 13 December 2015, the regionalist coalition Pè a Corsica (English: For Corsica), supported by both Femu a Corsica and Corsica Libera and led by Gilles Siméoni, won the territorial elections with a percentage of 36.9%.
On December 17, 2015, Jean Guy Talamoni was elected President of the Assembly of Corsica and Gilles Simeoni was elected Executive President of the Council of the Region. In addition, legislation granting Corsica a greater degree of autonomy was passed.