Bastia is a port on the north-eastern coast of the island of Corsica. The old town (Terra Vecchia) is built in and around the central part of the harbour and is a network of alleys connected by dark, vaulted passages. Sights of interest include the classical Church of San Giovanni Battista, the Law Court, Theatre, and City Hall. From here you can visit the resort of St Florent or Cap Norse, the rugged peninsula with its profuse wild flowers, vineyards and quiet traditional fishing villages.
Settled in the 14th century by the Genoese who built a fortress to protect it, Bastia was the capital of the island until 1791. The city was held by the British in 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession, but was soon recaptured by the Genoese, who sold the entire island to France in 1768. It was occupied by the British again from 1794 to 1796, during the French Revolution. The Germans occupied the city in 1942-1943, during World War II.
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. The Genoese ceded the island to France in 1768 and one significant result of the cession was that Napoleon Bonaparte, born at Ajaccio the following year, was a French citizen. During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the island was twice held by the British.
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