Corsica (/ˈkɔːrsɪkə/; French: Corse [kɔʁs]; Corsica in Corsican and Italian, pronounced [ˈkorsiga] and [ˈkɔrsika] respectively) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island. While being part of Metropolitan France, Corsica is also designated as a territorial collectivity (collectivité territoriale) by law. As a territorial collectivity, Corsica enjoys a greater degree of autonomy than other French regions; for example, the Corsican Assembly is able to exercise limited executive powers. The island formed a single department until it was split in 1975 into two historical departments: Haute-Corse (Upper Corsica) and Corse-du-Sud (Southern Corsica), with its regional capital in Ajaccio, the prefecture city of Corse-du-Sud. Bastia, the prefecture city of Haute-Corse, is the second largest settlement in Corsica. The two departments, and the region of Corsica, merged again into a single territorial collectivity in 2018. After being ruled by the Republic of Genoa since 1284, Corsica was briefly an Italian-speaking independent republic from 1755, until it was officially ceded by the Republic of Genoa to Louis XV as part of a pledge for debts and conquered in 1769. Napoleon Bonaparte was born the same year in Ajaccio, and his ancestral home, Maison Bonaparte, is today a significant visitor attraction and museum. Due to Corsica's historical ties with the Italian peninsula, the island retains many Italian cultural elements to this day: the native tongue is recognized as a regional language by the French government.
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