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Distinguished from the other Ionian Islands by its ease of access, Lefkada Is separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of water spanned by a bridge bearing a continuous stream of ground traffic There are regular flights from Athens to Aktio. just 18 km from Lefkada. National Bus Company coaches connect the Island with Athens, Patra, Thessaloniki, Giannina and other major Greek cities. Caiques and ferry boats leave daily for Meganisi, while during the summer months tourist vessels ply back and forth to the small neighbouring islands of Skorpios, Sparti and Madouri. Ferryboat services also connect Lefkada with Ithaca and Kefalonia. Leikada, or Lefkadia, probably owes its name to the steep white rocks found on its Southern promontory, Lefkata, or to its snow-white, dreamlike beaches.
It was from Lefkata that the poet Sappho is said to have leapt to her death, driven to suicide by her unfortunate love for Phaon. The first traces of human presence on the island date back to 8000 BC Important findings from a settlement near Nydri dating from around 2000 BC evidence an Idiosyncratic culture linked to the opposite mainland shores. The Lefkadians were present at the naval battle of Salamina and the battle of Plataia, they participated in the Peloponnesian War, the campaigns of Alexander the Great and fought against the Romans in the 3rd century BC. During the Byzantine era the island was incorporated into the Despotate of Epirus and later fell into the hands of Count Orsini, who ordered the construction of the fortress of Santa Maura as a defence against pirates. His tenure was followed by that of the Venetians, who enriched the culture of the island and organised it as a republic. Yet the rule of the noble families was oppressive and when the French republicans seized the island the people let out a collective sigh of relief. The Russian occupation that ensued in 1800. was soon succeeded by the British who included Lefkada in the "United States of the Ionian Islands" and saw to the modernisation of the administration and the construction of public projects. The English occupation ended in 1815, while the status of the English protection lasted until 1864 when the dream of union with Greece was finally realised after much sweat, blood and tears on 21 May 1864. In cultural terms. Lefkada is one of the most dynamic areas of Greece. Numerous islanders have distinguished themselves in the fields of literature, the arts and sciences. The national poets Aristotelis Valaoritis and Aggelos Sikelianos were born, raised and worked here. Kafkadio Hem bom in Lefkada became the national poet of Japan. The island's capital is the town of Lefkada with Its characteristic multi-coloured timber-framed buildings and its unique lagoon, home to rare species of birds protected by the Ramsar Convention, as well as, by the Ministry of Culture that has declared its shore a site of outstanding natural beauty. Built mostly by Epirotans, the island's churches are largely single-nave basilicas. The church ofAghios loannis Antzoussis and the Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni are well worth a visit. According to tradition the Apostle Paul stopped at both places on his way to Rome. Many of the old traditions of the islanders' forefathers are still kept alive, giving the Island its own original colour.
Each summer the town of Lefkada hosts the Festivals of Speech and Art, as well as the International Folklore Festival. The people of Lefkada are vivacious and hospitable, always happy to welcome visitors.
The climate is Mediterranean and the weather mild. The island teems with olive trees, vines, cypress trees, oaks, pines, planes and other trees that reach right down to its shore. The charm of Lefkada is complemented by the smaller surrounding islands: Skorpios, once the property of the shipping magnate Onassis, Skorpidi and beyond it Madouri the island of poet Aristotle Valaoritis.
By the semi-mountainous village of Marantohori a lake of unrivalled beauty is home to eagles and many other birds of prey. Leikada has two of the ten best beaches in the wortd far wind surflng, while it is also ideal for sailing and diving. The island is the venue for the Formula III Powerboat Racing World Championship, each year in June, one of the biggest sport events worldwide. Careful to preserve its authentic character and atmosphere, combining its genuine qualities with contemporary tourist development, Lefkada boasts a comprehensive tourist infrastructure and first-rate tourist facilities.
The town of Leikada has excellent facilities for the accommodation and entertainment of visitors. Nydri, the celebrated resort, combines an enchanting view of the surrounding islands with all the conveniences of a well-organised tourist location. Entertainment on the island continues without respite: excursions to the nearby islands, sea sports at the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, high spirits 24 hours a day,
Boasting a rich cuisine with a variety of traditional specialities and mouth-watering mezedes. Lefkada is a gourmet's paradise particularly renowned for the fresh and delicious fish, available in abundance and in great variety from the sea and from the island's own fish farms. Visitors can savour the "bourdeto" and excellent dishes prepared with salted cod served a la Lefkada (Bianco) with potatoes, "aliada" a sort of gartic dressing with salted cod, "riganada" and whitebait pie.