Corsica is a French island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the Italian island of Sardinia. Mountains comprise two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain. Before French domination, Corsica was under the ownership of the Republic of Genoa. Corsica is one of the 27 régions of France, although it is designated as a territorial collectivity (collectivité territoriale) by law. As a territorial collectivity, it enjoys some greater powers than other French régions. Corsica is referred to as a "région" in common speech, and is almost always listed among the other régions of France. Corsica is split into two departments, Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud, with its regional capital in Ajaccio, the prefecture of Corse-du-Sud. Bastia, the prefecture of Haute-Corse, is the second-largest settlement in Corsica.
Corsica was formed through volcanic explosions, and is the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean. It is 183 kilometres (114 mi) long at longest, 83 kilometres (52 mi) wide at widest, has 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) of coastline, more than 200 beaches, and is very mountainous, with Monte Cinto as the highest peak at 2,706 metres (8,878 ft) and 20 other summits of more than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Mountains comprise two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain. Forest comprises 20% of the island. Approximately 3,500 km2 (1,400 sq mi) of the total surface area of 8,680 km2 (3,350 sq mi) is dedicated to nature reserves (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse), mainly in the interior. Corsica contains the GR20, one of Europe's most notable hiking trails. The island is 90 kilometres (56 mi) from Tuscany in Italy and 170 kilometres (110 mi) from the Côte d'Azur in France. It is separated from Sardinia to the south by the Strait of Bonifacio, a minimum of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) wide.
The island has a natural park (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, Parcu di Corsica), which protects rare animal and plant species. The Park was created in 1972 and includes the Golfe de Porto, the Scandola Nature Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and some of the highest mountains on the island. Scandola cannot be reached on foot, but people can gain access by boat from the village of Galéria and Porto (Ota). Two endangered subspecies of hoofed mammals, the mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) and Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) inhabit the park. The Corsican red deer was re-introduced after it was extinct due to overhunting. This Corsican subspecies was the same that survived on Sardinia, so it's endemic. There are other species endemic to Corsica especially in the upper mountain ranges, i.e. Corsican Nuthatch, Corsican Fire Salamander and Corsican Brook Salamander and many plant subspecies.
Corsica is one of the few regions of France that retains its own language in everyday usage: Corsican, which is more closely related to Italian than to French. However, since its takeover by France in the 18th century, French has dominated the media and commerce, and today it is estimated that only 10% of Corsica's population speak Corsican natively, with only 50% having some sort of proficiency in Corsican.
From the mountains to the plains and sea, many ingredients play a role. Game such as wild boar (Cignale, Singhjari) is popular. There also is seafood and river fish such as trout. Delicatessen such as ficatellu (also named as ficateddu), coppa, ham (prizuttu), lonzu are made from Corsican pork (porcu nustrale). Cheeses like brocciu, casgiu merzu, casgiu veghju are made from goat or sheep milk. Chestnuts are the main ingredient in the making of pulenta. A variety of alcohol also exists ranging from aquavita (brandy), red and white Corsican wines (Vinu Corsu), muscat wine (plain or sparkling), and the famous "Cap Corse" apératif produced by Mattei. Maquis, the brush that grows in the area, is eaten by local animals and grows near certain plants, resulting in the noticeable taste in the food there.