French Corsica, the “island of beauty” shaken by national unrest

The French island of Corsica is in turmoil after the prison attack on a nationalist militant seen by some as a hero and others as a cold-blooded killer. Here are five things to know about the French “Island of Beauty,” famous for its beautiful beaches, where Napoleon Bonaparte was born and British Admiral Lord Nelson lost one of his eyes.

The sea and mountains The fourth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus is a tourist attraction, with about 200 beaches.

It is also a hiker’s paradise, and boasts 120 mountain peaks over 2,000 meters (6,600 ft) high, with Monte Cento rising at 2,706 metres.

French, British and French again after being conquered by the Romans and then under Byzantine rule, Corsica was ruled by Genoese Italy before becoming French in 1768, just in time for Emperor Napoleon’s birth on the island a year later.

But for two years after the French Revolution, the island was part of the British Empire.

He fell into the conflict between Paris and Corsican nationalists, the British admiral Lord Nelson, who lost sight in his right eye during the Battle of Corsica in 1794.

Assassination of the Governor: The National Liberation Front of separatist Corsica launched a bombing campaign in the mid-1970s targeting state infrastructure and senior French officials.

Violence by various secret groups continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the assassination of Claude Ireneac, the island’s central government representative, on February 6, 1998.

In 2014, the FLN abolished its armed campaign.

Nationalists in power since 1991, the island of 340,000 has enjoyed greater autonomy than other French regions, particularly in the areas of education, environment and transportation.

The National Alliance that came to power on the island in 2015 has sought more autonomy.

But Paris rejected many of its demands, including the recognition of Corsican as an official language alongside French, and the granting of amnesty to “political prisoners” such as Yvan Colonna, who was convicted of Irignac’s death.

It may be one of the poorest regions in France with little to no heavy industry, but the people of Corsica enjoy a rich diet including wild boars, delicious goat cheese, pasta and olives. Apart from tourism, the main sources of income are wine production, livestock, citrus fruits and peaches.

(France 24 with AFP)

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