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What is the Balkans DNA Ethnicity?

Do you want to know what the Balkans DNA ethnicity is? Find out where the Balkans are located, which countries are included in this region, and more.

Plus, if you don’t have known ancestors from the Balkans region, you will also learn how you might have inherited DNA from this part of the world.

I first became interested in the Balkans region a few years ago when I discovered a relatively close DNA match from Serbia. It is not a part of the world that typically receives a lot of attention from many Americans, since most people in the USA do not have roots in the area.

What is the Balkans DNA Ethnicity

As I learned, Serbia has a large population of ethnic Slovaks who are descended from Slovaks who left the territory that is now Slovakia during the 1700-1800s. When my Slovak ancestors went to New Jersey, most of their cousins and other Slovak countrymen stayed in Europe and ended up in Serbia.

So, my Serbian cousin with Slovak roots is related to me through my mother’s side of the family. Imagine how surprised I was when my father got his Ancestry DNA results back and I learned that I also had a connection to the Balkans through his Eastern European ancestors.

The Balkans is a fascinating part of Europe, and includes many more countries than Serbia. Below, we will explore this region and the Balkans DNA ethnicity.

Where is the Balkans DNA region located?

The Balkan DNA region is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, countries including Romania and Hungary to the North, and the Black Sea to the east. Greece is considered part of the geographic Balkans region, but might be reported separately or together with Balkans DNA on ethnicity estimates.

The area shown in color on the map is the region typically known as the Balkans. Some DNA testing companies separate Greece from the larger Balkans region.
Original image by Perconte Shared with CC BY-SA 2.5 license, I added country labels for reference

Greece’s position on the Mediterranean Sea, as well as linguistic and political differences, has meant that the country is not always considered to be culturally part of the Balkans. Even so, there is a deep historic connection between all of the people on the Balkans Peninsula, which is why some autosomal DNA testing companies report Greece and Balkans DNA together.

The Balkan region is named, as you might have guessed, for the mountain region of the same name. The Balkan Mountain Range stretches from near the Timbok River valley near the border that Serbia and Bulgaria share all the way to the beautiful cliffs at Cape Emine at the Black Sea.

Serbia also has its own share of mountains. In fact, a total of four groups of mountains come together in Serbia. In addition to the Balkan Mountains, we also see the Dinaric, Carpathian, and the Rila-Rhodope systems forming a rugged, formidable geographic boundary separating the region from the rest of Eastern Europe.

Which countries are in the Balkans?

The Balkan DNA ethnicity region typically includes the following: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Kosovo. Some DNA testing companies also include Greece as part of the Balkans.

In addition, DNA matching the Balkans region can be found in: Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, and Czech Republic.

What is Balkans ethnicity?

The Balkans is not technically an ethnicity, since there are many distinct ethnic groups living on the Balkan Peninsula. Each of these groups has a unique cultural and linguistic identity, often referred to as an ethnicity.

Some of the largest ethnic groups in the Balkans includes Serbs, Romani, Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish, Macedonian, Albanian, Croats, Bulgarians, Bosniaks, and Yugoslavs.

Why Is there Balkans DNA in Other Parts of Europe?

The Balkans has traditionally been a very important part of the cultural exchange between the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe, Greece, and West Asian countries such as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. This exchange, which usually includes commercial trade, also often leads to people from one region establishing themselves in another.

My dad’s Balkan DNA results from AncestryDNA

In addition, for more than a thousand years, people have left the Balkans DNA region because of political and economic difficulties due to the rough geography in the region and discord between the more than one dozen ethnic groups that call the region home.

This means that many people from the Balkans DNA region ended up in other parts of Europe. Since this migration has been occurring for many hundreds of years, many of us might find that our ancestors from Germany, Slovakia, Poland, or Austria, may have had ancestors from the Balkan Peninsula.

For example, even though my father’s side of the family has no known ancestors from any of the present-day Balkan countries that I listed above, his uncle clearly matches the Balkan DNA region:

In addition, both my father and his uncle have a great number of DNA matches on sites like MyHeritage. For example, my great-uncle has at least 106 DNA matches, all with more than 75% of their DNA matching the Balkans, who are from the countries mentioned in the previous section of this article as part of the Balkans DNA geographic region.

More research is certainly needed, but I feel confident that my Balkans ancestors must have left the peninsula within the past few hundred years to migrate to a country such as Germany.

How to find out if you have Balkans DNA

Family Tree DNA, AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage DNA all report a specific “Balkans” ethnicity on their ethnicity estimates or ancestry reports. If you haven’t already tested your DNA, any of the companies that are mentioned here are excellent choices for discovering your heritage in the Balkans region.

Conclusion

I hope that this post has helped you understand more about the Balkan DNA ethnicity and what it means to have this region in your results. It is a fascinating part of the world with a rich cultural history.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like to share your own experience exploring your roots in the Balkans, please join in the discussion below.

Thanks for reading today!

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