The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, southeast of mainland Greece and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around (κυκλάς), the sacred island of Delos. The Cyclades is where the native Greek breed of cat (the Aegean cat) originated.
The Cyclades comprise about 220 islands, the major ones being Amorgós, Anáfē, Ándros, Antíparos, Dēlos, Eschátē, Íos, Kéa, Kímōlos, Kýthnos, Mēlos, Mýkonos, Náxos, Páros,Folégandros, Sérifos, Sífnos, Síkinos, Sýros, Tēnos, and Thēra or Santoríni. Most of the smaller islands are uninhabited.
Ermoupolis, on Syros, is the chief town and administrative center of the former prefecture.
The islands are peaks of a submerged mountainous terrain, with the exception of two volcanic islands, Milos 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.
The Cyclades are bounded to the south by the Sea of Crete.
The Cyclades, like the other Aegean island groups, are exposed to the north/north east, putting them in the path of the Meltemi wind that can reach Force 7 and above. The Meltemi tends to start in late June and will come and go until September.