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Spain & Portugal Regional DNA Project

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One Family Project

The One Family One World Project is a partnership between Living DNA and Eupedia initiated in 2017. The project aims to map the regional genetic variations of the world with a great level of detail and accuracy in order to improve our understanding of both recent and ancient migrations and see how humans are all connected with one another as one big family.

Genetic variations within Iberia

Historical context

The Iberian peninsula has a complex population history that started when Near Eastern Neolithic farmers arrived along the Mediterranean coasts some 7,500 years ago. They colonised first Catalonia, Murcia, southern Andalusia and Portugal. It took 1,000 years for the Neolithic lifestyle to get deeper inland and another 500 years to reach the mountains of Asturias and Cantabria. Neolithic farmers progressively mixed with Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. In the Late Bronze Age Proto-Celts invaded the peninsula, while Phoenician merchants were establishing colonies on the Andalusian coast.

In the Iron Age, Hallstatt Celts migrated to western and central Iberia, where Celtic languages were spoken until Roman times. The Basques retained their Neolithic language through the ages to this day, although the area where it is spoken has shrunk considerably. Before the Roman conquest, its precursor, the Aquitanian language, was spoken from Cantabria to northern Aragon and in most of Gascony in France. Genetics can tell us whether the people in those former Basque-speaking regions were progressivly overrun by their neighbours, or if acculturation led to a gradual language shift without substantial population replacement.

The Romans set up many colonies in Iberia, especially along the Mediterranean coast, in Andalusia and in Extremadura. This also happens to be where typically Roman Y-chromosomal lineages like haplogroups R1b-U152 are the most common in Iberia today.

In the 5th century, the Suebi, a Germanic tribe from southwest Germany, established a kingdom in northwest Iberia and seem to have had a particularly important genetic impact compared to other conquerors. Nowadays Galicia, Asturias, Leon, and northern Portugal have been reported to possess more Germanic admixture than any other Iberian apart from the Catalans. The genetic impact of the Vandals and the Visigoths is not well understood at present, but appears to have been more limited.

The Arabic occupation of Iberia lasted for nearly 800 years and surely left some traces in the Iberian gene pool, although previous studies have not been able to distinguish it clearly from Phoenician or Jewish DNA.

Objective & Methodology

To determine the boundaries between proposed genetic regions of Iberia we took into account the historical and linguistic divisions, already well reflected by the autonomous regions.

The historical Basque country, including Navarre, was divided between the Basque-speaking heartland and the periphery where Basque used to be spoken.

Some autonomous regions were split in two to reflect differences in local dialects. This is the case of northern Aragon (Huesca) where the Pyrenean Gascon (or Aranese) dialect of Occitan is spoken, and Basque was once spoken.

Leon was detached from Old Castile and attached to Asturias instead as they share the Astur-Leonese language. The inhabitants of New Castile traditionally speak a northern Castilian dialect, while those of La Mancha speak a southern Castilian dialect. Andalusia also has two dialect zones.

The aim of the project is to confirm whether the proposed genetic boundaries are correct, and redefine them if necessary based on the actual genetic data collected from participants in each region.

Proposed genetic regions of Spain and Portugal

Our preliminary research indicates at least 28 areas of Iberia may have distinct genetic differences.

Proposed genetic divisions of Spain and Portugal - One Family One World DNA Project
  • Alentejo
  • Algarve
  • Aragon
  • Asturias & Leon
  • Azores
  • Baleares
  • Basque Heartland
  • Basque Periphery
  • Beira
  • Canaries
  • Cantabria
  • Catalonia
  • Douro-Minho
  • Estremadura
  • Extremadura
  • Galicia
  • Huesca
  • La Mancha
  • La Rioja
  • Madeira
  • Madrid
  • Murcia
  • New Castile
  • Northern Andalusia
  • Old Castile
  • Southern Andalusia
  • Trás-os-Montes
  • Valencia

How do I qualify?

The One Family project is open to everyone worldwide and has two parts.

  • 1. To build a genetic family tree of everyone from around the world, regardless of where your family comes from.
  • 2. To build a regional genetic breakdown of ancestry within countries, similar to 'The Peopling of the British Isles project'. This part of the project is looking for people with all four grandparents born within 80km (50mi) of each other inside our project areas of interest.

If you have already tested with Living DNA, all you need to do to join the project is log into your account, click on the Research tab and choose to participate in our global ancestry research project, if you haven't already done it.

If you already tested your DNA with another company (23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, or FTDNA's Family Finder), you can join the project here for free. After submitting the form with your family information, you will receive an email to confirm the creation of your Living DNA account and will be asked to upload your genome there for free.

If you have not yet tested your DNA with one of the above companies, then you will need to order a Living DNA test to take part.

The data provided as part of the project is kept strictly private and confidential under Living DNA’s ISO:27001 certification for information security. Please read Living DNA's Privacy Policy for more information.

See also

Genetic history of the Iberians


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