This article provides an overview of the gradual establishment since 1982 of territorial administrative autonomy on the French island of Corsica. The impetus for the reforms was provided by a growing self-determination movement concerned with protecting the specific Corsican identity and dealing with the social and economic challenges arising from insularity. It argues that neither institutional experimentation coupled with substantial aid nor periodic crackdowns on nationalists have succeeded in resolving the conflict. The difficult functioning of autonomy can be attributed in part to the late initiation of reform following the onset of violence as well as to weak and confusing arrangements, as well as an unfavourable political, economic and social context. The persistent use of violence by nationalists, partially justified by the fact that a number of their key demands remain unaddressed, and fuelled by inconsistent state policies, have constituted further obstacles. Last but not least, the extension of measures initially designed for Corsica to the rest of the French territory in successive waves of decentralisation have undermined the symbolic impact of the reforms.