Group 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 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 culturethe Cycladic, noted for its white marble idolsand later belonged to the Mycenaean culture in the 2nd millennium BC. Colonized by Ionians in the 10th–9th century 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 at different times during the 16th to 18th centuries. They became part of Greece in 1829. The economy is now based on tourism and on the export of wine, hides, pottery, and handicrafts.