Sunday, April 23, 2006


Corsica's strange geographies

For an island of around a quarter of a million people, Corsica has more than its fair share of Geographies.

Running down the middle of the island is a range of high mountains (Monte Cinto is more than twice as high as Mount Snowdon) that splits the island into lots of small regions. This is the main reason why Corsica has four international airports when one would have done for a flat island of twice its size. This is also the reason why Corsica has many different climates. You can be up in the mountain villages in dense cloud and rain at three o'clock - and be basking in the sunshine on a beach at four o'clock.

More significantly, the mountainous terrain has affected the island's language. A gentleman writing in Corse Matin, the island's daily newspaper proclaimed recently that "there is no such thing as a Corsican language - there are dozens of them!" By no means all of Corsica's inhabitants would agree with this point of view, but the difficulty of getting around in the days before good roads certainly meant that the dialects in different regions maintained their differences from each other over hundreds of years.

And lastly, the island's geographies will affect the way you move around. If you're driving to Bonifacio in the extreme south from anywhere in the north, and you're in a hurry, it's a good idea to go via the straight east coast road. And heading from anywhere in the west to somewhere in the east is well nigh impossible except via a few well chosen roads.

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