Bastia is the principal port of the island and its principal commercial town, especially famous for its wines. According to the 2006 census, Bastia has 43,577 inhabitants. Approximately 10% of the population are immigrants. The unemployment rate in the commune has persistently been one of the highest in France, standing at over 20% in 2004.
Located in the North-East of Corsica at the base of the Cap Corse, between the sea and the mountain, Bastia is the principal port of the island. The city is located 35 km (22 mi) away from the Northern tip of the Cap Corse, 50 km (31 mi) West from Elba, an Italian island, and 90 km (56 mi) away from continental Italy which can be seen a few days per year when visibility is excellent.In terms of geography, Bastia is defined by its position between the sea and the mountain. The city is located on the Eastern side of the "Serra di Pignu", a 960 m high mountain (see photo opposite). This steep mountain and several hills in the city shape a relief typical of the Cap Corse. This pronounced landscape caused the city to develop mostly on a coastal band about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) wide, which is a very limited part of the 19.38 km2 (7.48 sq mi) that the commune has.