1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bastia

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BASTIA, a town and seaport on the eastern coast of the island of Corsica, 98 m. N.N.E. of Ajaccio by rail. Pop. (1906) 24,509. Bastia, the chief commercial town in Corsica, consists of the densely-populated quarter of the old port with its labyrinth of steep and narrow streets, and of a more modern quarter to the north, which has grown up round the new port. La Traverse, a fine boulevard, intersects the town from north to south. Rising from the sea-shore like an amphitheatre, Bastia presents an imposing appearance, which is enhanced by the loftiness of its houses; it has, however, little of architectural interest to offer. Its churches, of which the largest is San Giovanni Battista, are florid in decoration, as are the law-court, the theatre and the hôtel-de-ville. The citadel, which dominates the old port, has a keep of the 14th century. As capital of an arrondissement, Bastia is the seat of a tribunal of first instance and a sub-prefect, while it is also the seat of the military governor of Corsica, of a court of appeal for the whole island, of a court of assizes, and of a tribunal and a chamber of commerce, and has a lycée, a branch of the Bank of France, and a library with between 30,000 and 40,000 volumes. The town has active commerce, especially with Italy. The new port has 1100 ft. of quayage, served by a railway, and with a depth alongside of 25 ft. The total number of vessels entered in 1907 was 721 with a tonnage of 337,551, of which 203,950 were French. The chief exports are chestnut extract for tanning, cedrates, citrons, oranges, early vegetables, fish, copper ore and antimony ore. Imports include coal, grain, flour and wine. Industry consists chiefly in fishing (sardines, &c., and coral), the manufacture of tobacco, oil-distilling, tanning, and the preparation of preserved citrons and of macaroni and similar provisions.

Bastia dates from the building of the Genoese fortress or “bastille” by Lionello Lomellino in 1383. Under the Genoese it was long the principal stronghold in the north of the island, and the residence of the governor; and in 1553 it was the first town attacked by the French. On the division of the island in 1797 into the two departments of Golo and Liamone, Bastia remained the capital of the former; but when the two were again united Ajaccio obtained the superiority. The city was taken by the English in 1745 and again in 1794.