CYCLADES, a compact group of islands in the Greek Archipelago, forming a cluster around the island of Syra (Syros), the principal town of which, now officially known as Hermoupolis, is the capital of a department. Population of the group (1907) 130,378- The islands, though seldom visited by foreigners, are for the most part highly interesting and picturesque, notwithstanding their somewhat barren appearance when viewed from the sea; many of them bear traces of the feudal rule of Venetian families in the middle ages, and their inhabitants in general may be regarded as presenting the best type of the Greek race. To the student of antiquity the most interesting are : Delos (q.v.), one of the greatest centres of ancient religious, political and commercial life, where an important series of researches has been carried out by French archaeologists; Melos (q.v.), where, in addition to various buildings of the Hellenic and Roman periods, the large prehistoric stronghold of Phylakopi has been excavated by members of the British school at Athens; and Thera (see SANTORIN), the ancient capital of which has been explored by Baron Killer von Gaertringen. Thera is also of special interest to geologists owing to its remarkable volcanic phenomena. Naxos, the largest and most fertile island of the group, contains the highest mountain in the Cyclades (Zia, 3290 ft.); the island annually exports upwards of 2000 tons of emery, a state monopoly the proceeds of which are now hypothecated to the foreign debt. The oak woods of Ceos (Zea) and los furnish considerable supplies of valonia. Kimolos, which is absolutely treeless, produces fuller's-earth. The famous marble quarries of Paros have been practically abandoned in modern times; the marble of Tenos is now worked by a British syndicate. The mineral wealth of the Cyclades has hitherto been much neglected; iron ore is exported from Seriphos, manganese and sulphur from Melos, and volcanic cement (pozzolana) from Santorin. Other articles of export are wine, brandy, hides and tobacco. Cythnos, Melos and other islands possess hot springs with therapeutic qualities. The prosperity of Syra, formerly an important distributing centre for the whole Levant, has been declining for several years. Population (1907): Syra 31,939 (communes, Hermoupolis 18,132, Mykonos 4589, Syra 9218); Andros 18,035 (Andros 8536, Arni 2166, Gaurio 2897, Corthion 4436) ; Thera 19,597 (Thera 4226, Egiale 1513, Amorgps 2627, Anaphe 579, Emporium 2172, Therasia 679, los 2090, Kalliste 3519, Oea 2192); Ceos 11,032 (Ceos 3817, Dryopis 1628, Cythnos 1563, Seriphos 4024) ; Melos, 12,774 (Melos 4864, Adamas 529, Siphnos 3777, Kimolos 2015, Pholegandros 962, 2658, Peree 2801, Sosthenion 1660).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)