The southern Aegean region (Cyclades) is an island group of the Aegean archipelago comprising of 24 major islands: Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Donousa, Ios, Irakleia, Kea, Kimolos, Koufonisia, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Folegandros, Schoinousa, Serifos, Sifnos, Sikinos, Syros, Tinos, and Thira (Santorini). They comprise a former administrative prefecture of Greece (population: 120,000, area: 2,572 km2, capital: Hermoupolis, Syros) and feature spectacular natural landscapes. Whereas their economy had always relied on primary sector production, since the 1970s-1980s, services, and especially tourism, have taken over, as their main economic basis. They no longer represent economically peripheral regions of Greece, but rather its most developed and world-renowned tourist region, including both over-touristed (Santorini, Mykonos town etc) and under-touristed (mostly smaller islands and most rural island interiors) destinations.
The cultural and archeological heritage of the Cyclades is multifold, spanning the whole historical timeline since prehistory. ‘Traditional’ Cycladic architecture is unique and famous, exhibited in old settlements, castle towns, urban and rural structures, churches/ chapels, paths, bridges, fountains, dovecots, windmills, stonewalls, terraces, etc, dating back to byzantine or late-byzantine times. Practices, such as stone-masonry, ceramic crafts, weaving/ embroidering, gastronomic techniques, etc have been preserved and practiced through the centuries, as are also ways of life and ideational systems, i.e. communal celebrations, socializing, linguistic idioms, name-giving, etc.