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The island of Corsica in the Mediterranean is known for its independent spirit, steep and jagged coastlines, pleasant climate, orange groves on beautiful mountains, spectacular views, olive trees and the sandy and pristine beaches. It is located west of Italy, southeast of France, and north of the island of Sardinia. Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Many outdoor activities await tourists, such as excellent sailing, mountain climbing, and hiking, pony trekking, camping and diving. This beautiful, wild playground is a perfect combination for travellers that want physical exertion during the day, and French wine and cuisine in the evening. Local culture finds expression in folk music and handicrafts. The Tuscan-influenced Corsican language is taught in the island's schools.
Corsica was sold to France in 1768 and despite of 200 years of French rule, the country has retained much of its culture and many landmarks of its history. Corsica's relationship with mainland France has declined over the last few decades. In the early 1970's a nationalist movement started to wage a sometimes violent struggle against the central government. While relations with the French government are certainly not good, a total independence for Corsica is only supported by extremists. Infrastructure improvements and perks awarded to Corsica have lately taken away some of the hostility against Paris. Tourism is an important part of the island's economy, but large stretches of the seaboard remain undeveloped. Much of the population is concentrated in the main towns of Bastia and Ajaccio.