Cyclades, an island group and a department of Greece in the Aegean Sea, between the Greek mainland and Turkey. It consists of some 220 islands with an area of slightly more than 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2). Náxos, ándros, Páros, and Tínos are the largest islands. Most of the Cyclades are extensions of the mountains of Attica on the mainland, though Thíra (Thera) and a few others are of volcanic origin. They are generally rocky, supporting only low, scrub vegetation. The climate is marked by mild winters, with some rainfall, and hot, dry summers.
The economy of the Cyclades is based mainly on fishing, the raising of sheep and goats, and the growing of tobacco, olives, and grapes. There is also some mining of iron ore, bauxite, and sulfur. Tourists, attracted by the sunny climate and beautiful setting, are increasingly important to the economy. The population of the islands in 1991 was 95,083. Ermoúpolis, on the island of Síros, is the capital and chief commercial center.
Several of the islands have ancient ruins. Most notable are those on Dhílos (Delos), legendary birthplace of Apollo and once the religious center of the Ionian Greeks. The name Cyclades, which means "circular," was given to the islands because they form a circle around Dhílos. The Venus de Milo was found on Milos, which also has archeological remains of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations.