> Cyclades



Politics and government of Greece

Periphery: South Aegean
Prefectures : Cyclades, Dodecanese

NASA Image of the Cyclades

The Cyclades, from the Greek Κυκλάδες, ("circular," modern Greek Kikládhes) is an island group south-east of the mainland of Greece. It is a part of the vast number of islands which constitute the Greek archipelago in the Aegean Sea. The name was originally used to indicate those islands that formed a rough circle around the sacred island of Delos (map).

The Cyclades are comprised of around 220 islands, with the major ones being Amorgos, Anafi, Ándros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kéa, Kimolos, Kithnos, Mílos, Mykonos, |Náxos, Páros, Pholegandros, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Síros, Tínos and Santorini (Thira).

Ermoupolis, on Síros, is the chief town and administrative center of the group. The islands are peaks of a submerged mountainous terrain, with the exception of two volcanic islands, Melos and Santorini (Thera). The climate is generally dry and mild, but with the exception of Naxos the soil is not very fertile: agricultural produce includes wine, fruit, wheat, olive oil, and tobacco. Cooler temperatures are in higher elevations and mainly do not receive wintry weather. In transportation, the Cyclades is the only prefecture in Greece that is not linked with a state-maintained highway or a highway number. All of its roads in the island complex are secondary or provincial.

View of the Aegean sea from the island of Santorini


The significant Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Cycladic culture is best known for its schematic flat female idols carved out of the islands' pure white marble centuries before the great Middle Bronze Age ("Minoan") culture arose in Crete, to the south: these figures have been looted from burials to satisfy a thriving Cycladic antiquities market since the early 20th century.

A distinctive Neolithic culture almalgating Anatolian and mainland Greek elements arose in the western Aegean before 4000 BC, based on emmer wheat and wild-type barley, sheep and goats, pigs, and tuna that were apparently speared from small boats (Rutter). Excavated sites include Saliagos and Kephala (on Keos) with signs of copper-working, Each of the small Cycladic islands could support no more than a few thousand people, though Late Cycladic boat models show that fifty oarsmen could be assembled from the scattered communities (Rutter), and when the highly organized palace-culture of Crete arose, the islands faded into insignificance, with the exception of Delos, which retained its archaic reputation as a sanctuary through the period of Classical Greek civilization.


The first archaeological excavations of the 1880s were followed by systematic work by the British School at Athens and by Christos Tsountas, who investigated burial sites on several islands in 1898-99 and coined the term "Cycladic civilization" Interest lagged, then picked up in the mid-20th century, as collectors competed for the modern-looking figures that seemed so similar to sculpture by Jean Arp or Constantin Brancusi. Sites were looted and a brisk trade in forgeries arose, but more accurate archaeology revealed the broad outlines of a farming and seafaring culture that had immigrated from Asia Minor ca 5000 BC. Early Cycladic culture evolved in three phases, between ca 3300 - 2000 BC, when it was increasingly swamped in the rising influence of Minoan Crete. The culture of mainland Greece contemporary with Cycladic culture is termed Helladic.

In recent decades the Cyclades islands have become extremely popular with European and other tourists, and as a result there have been problems with erosion, pollution, and water shortages.

Click Image to enlarge

Area codes

Municipalities and communities

Municipality YPES code Seat Postal code Area code
Amorgos 3101 Amorgos 840 08 22850-2
Andros 3103 Andros 845 00 22820-2
Ano Syros 3105 Ano Syros 841 00 22810-8
Drymalia 3107 Chalkio 843 02 22850
Ermoupoli 3109 Ermoupoli 841 00 22810-2
Exomvourgo 3108 Xinara Naxou 842 00 22850-5
Ios 3112 Ios 840 01 22860-9
Kea 3113 Kea

(aka Gia, Tzia or Keos)

840 02 22880-2
Korthio 3115 Ormos Korthiou 845 02 22820-6
Kythnos 3117 Kythnos 840 06 22810-3
Milos 3118 Milos 848 00 22870-2
Mykonos 3119 Mykonos 846 00 22890-2
Naxos 3120 Naxos 843 00 22850-2
Paros 3123 Paros 844 00 22840-2
Poseidonia 3124 Episkopi Posidonias 841 00 22810-4
Serifos 3125 Serifos 840 02 22810-5
Sifnos 3127 Sifnos 840 03 22840-3
Thira 3111 Thira 847 00 22860-2
Tinos 3129 Tinos 842 00 22830-2
Ydrousa 3130 Gavrio 845 01 22820-7
Community YPES code Seat Postal code Area code
Anafi 3102 Anafi 840 09 22860-6
Antiparos 3104 Antiparos 840 07 22840-6
Donoussa 3106 Donoussa 843 00 22850-5
Folegandros 3131 Folegandros 840 11 22860
Irakleia 3110 Irakleia 843 00 22870-7
Kimolos 3114 Kimolos 840 04 22870-5
Koufonisi 3116 Koufonissa 843 00 22870-7
Oia 3121 Oia 847 02 22860-7
Panormos 3122 Panormos 842 01 22830-3
Schoinoussa 3128 Schoinoussa 843 00 22870-7
Sikinos 3126 Sikinos 840 10 22860-5

Municipalities and communities of the Cyclades Prefecture

Amorgos | Andros | Ano Syros | Drymalia | Ermoupoli | Exomvourgo | Ios | Kea | Korthio | Kythnos | Milos | Mykonos | Naxos | Paros | Poseidonia | Santorini | Serifos | Sifnos | Tinos | Ydrousa |

Anafi | Antiparos | Donousa | Folegandros | Irakleia | Kimolos | Koufonisi | Oia | Panormos | Schoinoussa | Sikinos



Jeremy B. Rutter, "The Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean" (http://projectsx.dartmouth.edu/classics/history/bronze_age/index.html): especially Lessons 2 and 4: chronology, history, bibliography

Further reading

  • J. A. MacGillivray and R. L. N. Barber, editors, The Prehistoric Cyclades (Edinburgh) 1984.
  • R. L. N. Barber, The Cyclades in the Bronze Age (Iowa City) 1987.

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