DNA Regional Ancestry

(500 Years to 10,000 Years Ago)

Scandinavia 42%:

This part of Europe was the last to be settled since it was covered in glaciers for thousands of years longer than the lands to the south. As the name states, this region is associated with the peninsula of Scandinavia and its adjacent regions of Iceland and Denmark. Our prehistoric Scandinavian ancestors most likely survived from hunting, gathering, and fishing, and it wasn’t until a few thousand years ago that farming first reached the area. Historically, Scandinavia was the home of Vikings, who were known to voyage south and west and interacting, both peacefully and violently, with their neighbors in Great Britain and central Europe. This genetic component of our ancestry is seen in people of Norwegian, Icelandic, Swedish, and Danish ancestry, although it also occurs in people from Britain and continental Europe.


Western and Central Europe 28%:

This component of our ancestry is associated with a prehistoric European population that arose from a hybrid of different migrant groups. The region extends from northern Spain east through France, the lowlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Prehistorically, this region of Europe was home to Neanderthals, and it was possibly here where our modern human ancestors mixed with our Neanderthal ancestors as the two related species met 40,000 years ago. Historically, this region saw continuous human migration from the north, west, south, and east, which is evident from the dozens of distinct mitochondrial DNA lineages that exist there today. This genetic component of our ancestry is seen in most people of European ancestry, but it’s highest among those with Spanish, French, Dutch, Swiss, Austrian, German, and northern Italian ancestry.


Great Britain and Ireland 22%:

This component of our ancestry is associated with the western European islands of Great Britain and Ireland, but traces can also be found along the northern and western coasts of continental Europe. As modern humans first entered Europe, this part of the world was uninhabitable and covered in ice sheets. As the ice sheets retreated, settlers moved to the islands. The earliest settlers likely survived on fishing, but farming eventually reached the islands in the past several thousand years. Stone monuments (e.g., Stonehenge) are associated with some of the islands’ earliest cultures. Historically, these islands were populated by Celts and later marked the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire, thus genetic connections still exist between these regions. Yet it was Britain’s global empire during the 18th and 19th centuries that helped spread this component, as well as the English language, throughout the world. This ancestral component is seen in people today, of British and Irish descent, including those throughout the USA, Canada, Australia, and most other former British colonies.


Finland and Siberia 4%:

This component of our ancestry is associated with the polar regions of Eurasia, stretching from Finland to eastern Siberia in Russia. Similar to other northern regions, this region of Eurasia was settled late and primarily by hunter-gatherers who could survive on the edges of the receding icesheets, and did not take on agriculture until very recently. Although this area may appear distant on a map, members of this population eventually expanded as far east as Alaska, Canada, and North America, and their genetic legacy is still seen in Inuit populations as far east as Canada and Greenland, but also Sami populations as far west as Finland and Sweden. Our ancestors were true circumpolar settlers. Today, this genetic component of our ancestry is seen in Finnish, Russian, Alaska, and Canadian populations, and in low frequencies among some Native American groups farther south.


Southern Europe 3%:

This component of our ancestry originates along the northern Mediterranean coast. For millennia this part of the world was a hub for the movement of trading goods as well as ideas, and thus much of modern Western culture and thought can trace its origins to here. Our ancestors may have been some of the first farmers to migrate to Europe from the Middle East thousands of years ago. Historically, this region was the home to the vast Roman Empire, which brought with it great infrastructure, cities, and cultural development, but consequently led to homogenization of its peoples. This ancestral component is most common in people today of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Greek descent, among other groups including those from the Mediterranean area. This component is also found in people of French and British ancestry, as well as people from northern Africa. It is also a large component for people of Hispanic-American ancestry.