Ajaccio is the friendly capital on the west coast of Corsica, whose rugged coastline and flawless beaches enclose a fragrant marquis-carpeteted interior dotted with ancient hill towns. Napoleon was born in Ajaccio in 1769, and the house in which he lived is now a museum. Although the original settlement of Ajax was established by the Romans 2 miles (3 km) north of the present site, the present city was founded by Genoese colonists in 1492.
Corsica has an area of 8680 sq km (3351 sq miles). The interior is mountainous, with Mount Cinto (2710 m/8892 ft) the highest peak. The coast is mostly rocky and indented in the west; in the east the coastal plain of Aleria is dotted with lagoons and swamps. From the mountains descend numerous short, torrential streams. The largest rivers are the Golo and the Tavignano. Fought over by Greek, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine and Saracen, the Genoese ceded the island to France in 1768. During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the island was twice held by the British.
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