/sik"leuh deez'/, n.a group of Greek islands in the S Aegean. 86,337; 1023 sq. mi. (2650 sq. km).
* * *Greek KikládhesGroup of about 30 islands, southern Aegean Sea.They cover a land area of 976 sq mi (2,528 sq km) and constitute the Cyclades department (pop., 1991: 94,000) of Greece, which has its capital at Ermoúpolis. Their name refers to the ancient tradition that they formed a circle around the sacred island of Delos. The chief islands are Andros, Tínos, Náxos, Amorgós, Melos, Páros, Syros, Kéa, Kíthnos, Serifos, Íos, and Thíra. They were the centre of a Bronze Age culture, the Cycladic, noted for its white marble idols, and later belonged to the Mycenaean culture in the 2nd millennium BC. Colonized by Ionians in the 10th–9th centuries BC, they later were successively held by Persians, Athenians, Ptolemaic Egyptians, and Macedonians. Ruled by Venice after the early 13th century AD, the islands fell to the Turks in 1566. They became part of Greece in 1829. The economy is now based on tourism and on the export of wine, hides, pottery, and handicrafts.
* * *▪ islands and department, GreeceModern Greek Kikládhes,group of about 30 islands that make up the nomós (department) of Cyclades, Greece. They lie off Attica (Attikí) in the Aegean Sea. Ermoúpolis (Hermoúpolis), the capital, is on the island of Syros (Síros).The islands, which have a total land area of 976 square miles (2,528 square km), are peaks of the submerged mountain ranges of Greece. In antiquity they were the centre of a Bronze Age culture, the Cycladic, noted for its white marble idols. The name Cyclades means “encircling islands,” and they are so named because they form a rough circle around the sacred island of Delos (q.v.; Dhílos), which was the legendary birthplace of Artemis and her brother Apollo. Virtually all of the islands have some archaeological interest. Windmills and cube-shaped whitewashed houses are characteristic features of the modern landscape.The earliest inhabitants of the Cyclades are believed to have been Carians (from the ancient district of Caria in southwestern Anatolia [now Turkey]). According to the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, the Carians were expelled from the islands by King Minos. The Greek historian Herodotus says the Carians were subjects of Minos and that they were expelled from the islands much later, by the Dorians and the Ionians. A rich material culture of the Bronze Age is much in evidence throughout the islands, and on many of the islands are found remarkable and characteristic (mostly female) figurines. The Cyclades were colonized by Ionians in the 10th and 9th centuries BC and flourished in the 8th to 6th century BC, but later only Delos remained important. It served as the headquarters and treasury of the Athenian-led Delian League in the 5th century BC. Over time the Cyclades came under of the rule of virtually every power in the region, including the Crusaders, who in 1204 gave the islands to Venice. Many of the islands bear architectural traces of Venetian rule during the Middle Ages. The Cyclades' antiquities have been periodically ransacked for use as building stone.Náxos (q.v.), the largest and most fertile island, and the highest in elevation, produces fruits, nuts, and wheat. The island of Thera consists of the remains of a volcano that exploded about 1600 BC. The other major islands of the Cyclades include Andros, Íos, Kéa, Kímolos, Kíthnos, Melos (Mílos), Míkonos, Páros, and Tínos. The Cyclades export wines, brandy, tobacco, hides, pottery, and handicrafts. The islands were being rapidly depopulated until the development of tourism. Pop. (1981) nomós, 88,458; (1991) nomós, 94,005.
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