Are Southern Portuguese And Southern Spaniards Genetically Closer To North Africans Than To Other European Ethnicities?


The Southern parts of Spain and Portugal are extremely close to Northern Africa. Due to this, I have wondered if the Spaniards and Portuguese from these regions are closer to North Africans than Europeans genetically.


When I was going through the Eupedia data, which gets information from Dodecad calculator, I found an interesting fact. The Neolithic farmers with African genes who came to the Iberian region only represent 10% of the population in Portugal.

However, geneticists don’t use Neolithic and Mesolithic genetic markers when they want to analyze modern admixtures. Instead, they use genetic markers from the Iron Age, as they are more relevant to the modern world. To put things into perspective, imagine putting a drop of red dye in 10 ml of water. As you start adding more water to this mixture, you will reach a point where you can no longer identify the red dye. When it comes to genetic markers, Neolithic and Mesolithic ones are comparable to the red dye.

Moving on, when I analyzed the data from all the Portuguese 23andMe’s test results, I found that most of them have Celtic/Iberian ancestors. The rest all come from various European regions, such as North West Germany and Italy. There are certain studies which show that some of the Portuguese people have Jewish roots. However, the consensus is that the Portuguese genetics is similar to Basque, while their makeup is the same as Western Europeans.

There was another study, conducted by a group of researchers, to find out more about the genetic mixture in Spain. They used 800 unrelated participants for this study, to study their genomes. After collecting their genetic information, the researchers compared it with existing data on the Spanish people, to see if there were any differences. The conclusion of the study was, people in Spain are similar to Northern and Western Europeans. However, their haplotypic structure is quite diverse, which is an interesting point to note.

When you compare the genetic structure to the French or Italians, it is weak and regional. Also, if you look at the map of Spain, you will see that there is a formidable mountain range along with water, two elements which behave as gene flow barriers.

Also, Portugal and Spain have the largest female ancestry from the sub-Saharan region. The interesting thing is that these genes don’t come from North Africa. The North Africans conquered the Iberian Peninsula during the middle ages. However, the chances of genetic mixing were extremely low, as the invaders considered the locals as middle class. They also segregated the locals and avoided marital relationship or intimacy, as it was against their religious practices.

At the same time, they were influences from certain European countries. For instance, the Visigoths, who approached the countries from Germany, were closer to Europe, than any other region.

Upon close examination, you may find features, similar to the Arabs, such as tanned skin, long black hair, and almond-colored eyes. However, most of them (around 90%) have similar genes to Southern Europeans.