Cape Breton Island, an island that is part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The Strait of Canso separates it from the mainland, but a causeway now connects them. The island is nearly cut in two by Bras d'Or Lake, a large tidal inlet of salty to brackish water. Cape Breton Island is about 110 miles (180 km) long from north to south; its greatest width is about 80 miles (130 km). Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the Fortress of Louisbourg, a national historic site, are here.
The largest communities on Cape Breton Island are Sydney and Glace Bay. Most of the people on the island are of Scottish Highland descent.
Cape Breton Island was one of the first parts of North America known to Europeans. Attempts to settle the island failed until the early 1700's, when the French built Fortress Louisbourg on the eastern tip to control the Atlantic approach to its settlements in Canada. French fishing settlements were soon established on the island. In the French and Indian War Louisbourg was captured and destroyed by the British (1758). When France ceded its Canadian possessions to Britain (1763), Cape Breton Island became part of Nova Scotia. In 1784 the island became a separate province, but it was reannexed by Nova Scotia in 1820.