Around 2 million people visit Corsica each year, drawn by a climate that's mild even in winter and by some of the most astonishingly diverse landscapes in Europe.
Nowhere in the Mediterranean are there beaches finer than Corsica's perfect half-moon bays of white sand and transparent water, or seascapes more inspiring than the granite cliffs of the west coast. Even though the annual influx of tourists now exceeds the island's population sevenfold, tourism has not spoilt the place: there are a few resorts, but over development is rare and high-rise blocks are confined to the main towns.
Set on the western Mediterranean trade routes, the island has always been of strategic and commercial appeal. Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans came in successive waves, driving native Corsicans into the interior. The Romans were ousted by Vandals, and for the following thirteen centuries the island was attacked, abandoned, settled and sold as a nation-state, with generations of islanders fighting against foreign government. Two hundred years of French rule have had a limited effect on Corsica, and the island's Baroque churches, Genoese fortresses, fervent Catholic rituals and a Tuscan-influenced indigenous language and cuisine show a more profound affinity with neighbouring Italy.