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The Côte d'Azur (English: Azure Coast) is the narrow coastal part of the department of Alpes-Maritimes in PROVENCE, southeastern France. Strictly defined, it stretches from CANNES to Menton at the Italian border, but the term is often used synonymously with the RIVIERA (or French Riviera). It begins where the granitic and metamorphic rocks of the Massif de l'Esterel end at the Golfe de la Napoule and the limestone Alps reach the sea. Thus, the white cliffs and headlands of the rugged, indented coast contrast with the often clear, blue sky and sea amid the lush subtropical vegetation of palm and mimosa. The tourist industry has resulted in the Côte d'Azur having an almost continuous string of resorts, the most important being Monte Carlo in Monaco, Cannes, Antibes, and Menton, each with a different character. Fishing is important, and olives, grapes, citrus fruits, and flowers (for making perfumes) are grown. The eastern part of the Côte d'Azur, the county of Nice, was ceded to France by Italy in 1860.


Corsica (French: Corse) is the fourth largest island (8,680 sq km/ 3,352 sq mi) in the Mediterranean Sea. It is situated 170 km (105 mi) southeast of France, 97 km (60 mi) west of the Italian mainland, and is separated from Sardinia by the Strait of Bonifacio. A region of France with its own elected assembly, Corsica is divided into the departments of Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud. An independence movement is active.

Most of the island is a crystalline massif carved by the major rivers (Golo, Gravone, Tavignano), with frequent gorges in the mountains. Maquis, a dense, nearly impenetrable scrub brush, is the most common vegetative cover at low and medium altitudes. Forests of pine, beech, birch, and chestnut are found at higher altitudes. Sheep are raised on the rugged Niolo plateau in the north, and cheese from their milk is an important Corsican export. The economy is based on agriculture (citrus fruit, tobacco, grapes), although tourism is becoming important. A third of the population of 251,300 (1992 est.) live in the two largest towns, AJACCIO, the capital, and Bastia, both of which are on the coast. Most inhabitants speak both French (the official language) and Corsican, which is an Italian dialect.

The Romans conquered Corsica in the 3d century BC and established agricultural colonies along the coasts. These were destroyed during the Vandal, Lombard, and Saracen invasions between about AD 450 and 1050. Pisa and Genoa (until 1284) and Genoa and Aragon (until 1434) battled for control of the island. Genoa remained dominant from the 15th to the 18th century, when the Corsicans rebelled (1729) and established (1755) their own government under Pasquale PAOLI. The French conquered Corsica in 1769. During the French Revolution, Paoli returned to power and allied himself with the British, who occupied the island in 1794. Napoleon Bonaparte (a native Corsican) restored French rule in 1796.

Timothy J. Rickard
Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #8, ©1996
Bibliography: Wilson, Stephen, Feuding, Conflict and Banditry in 19th-Century Corsica (1989).

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