A region of France, Corsica was ruled over the centuries by the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Goths and Saracens.
In 1347, the Genoese took possession of the island, and controlled it for nearly 400 years. A revolution for independence began in 1729, and after a 26-year struggle the Corsican Republic was formed in 1755.
Paoli returned to Corsica from his exile in Britain following the French Revolution, and attempted to intervene and free the island from France with British help. After Spain entered into the war, however, Britain withdrew from Corsica, and the island was returned back to France.
During World War II, after the collapse of France to the German Wehrmacht, Corsica fell under the rule of a French regime collaborating with the Nazis. In addition, the United States established 17 airfields on the island, to use in attacking Italy.
After its liberation from the Third Reich, Corsica began functioning as an allied air base.
In recent years, numerous movements for independence or greater autonomy have been launched, and in 2001 the French government granted limited autonomy to the island.
Famous for its independent spirit, rugged beauty, olive oil, wine and citrus fruit, Corsica was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Its major industry is tourism, with many visitors arriving by ferry.