Did you get the Spain DNA region on your Ancestry ethnicity estimate? In this post, you’ll learn where this region is located, how you may have inherited it, as well as how to start tracing it in your family tree.
Whether you are surprised to see DNA from Spain in your results, or you were expecting to find it, you will find helpful information in this article.
Where is the Spain DNA region on Ancestry located?
The Spain DNA region on Ancestry is located in Southwest Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. The largest country within this region is Spain, but the region does include parts of Portugal and France.
In addition, we also find the Balearic Islands in the Balearic Sea, located within the Spain ethnicity region.
The image below shows the approximate location of the Spain DNA ethnicity region on Ancestry. The countries shown in light green define the current members of the European Union, while the country of Spain itself is shown in dark green:
People who live within the center of Spain DNA region generally show that most of their DNA matches this area. Those native to the center of the region, which extends further east than Zaragoza and west to Seville, might find that more than 75% of their DNA matches the Spain ethnicity region.
People who are from neighboring regions can also find DNA from the Spain ethnicity region in their results.
Which Spanish sub-regions are there?
You may have found a sub-region in Spain on your Ancestry results. As of 2021, the available sub-regions for Spain are:
- Northern Spain
- Spain and Argentina
- Southern Spain
- Spain, France, and Basque Country
We generally only see sub-regions on our results when we have a very strong genetic connection to the region. If you know that you have ancestors in one of the areas that corresponds to a sub-region, but you didn’t get it on your results, don’t worry.
We don’t inherit DNA in equal percentages from all of our ancestors. In addition, when we have only a distant connection to a region, we might not show a significant genetic link.
What is Spanish DNA?
Modern humans have been living on the Iberian Peninsula for at least 35,000 years. Ancient residents of Iberia experienced influxes of groups of people from Greek, Celtic, Germanic and Muslim cultures – among others.
How did I get Spain in my DNA Results?
Those DNA testers who got Spain in their Ancestry DNA results likely inherited this DNA from an ancestor who was from the Spain DNA region or a neighboring region.
Neighboring DNA regions include Portugal, France, Basque, and Northern Africa.
Individuals have left Spain to make lives in other parts of the world for hundreds of years, beginning primarily with the expansion of the Spanish Empire in the 15th century. During the height of Spanish global influence, territories included extensive portions of North and South America.
Many countries in North and South America, as well as Asia, have received people from Spain and neighboring areas. The Spanish diaspora, people who are descended from Spanish ancestors, includes an estimated 300,000,000 people in almost two dozen countries.
The true number of people in the world with Spanish ancestry is likely even higher, since there are more than 60 million people in the United States with Latino/Hispanic heritage. This number is not included in the estimate of the size of the Spanish diaspora I mentioned above.
The person whose results we see below matches the Spain ethnicity region with 1% of their DNA. He has extensive ancestry in Mexico on both sides of his family, and we can assume that the long, complicated relationship that Mexico has with Spain is the source of the DNA from this area.
Since our DNA tester only has 1% of their DNA matching the Spain region, it is unlikely that we will be able to build his family tree back far enough to identify his “100%” Spanish ancestor.
People who have much higher percentages from Spain might find that they have inherited DNA from this region from multiple ancestors. Below, you can learn more about how to trace your Spanish DNA.
Can I trace my DNA from Spain?
It is possible in most cases to trace DNA from Spain. Most countries with high percentages of people with Spanish ancestry also have historical connections with the Catholic Church, which has been, among other things, excellent at keeping sacramental records of its members.
Building a family tree is the first step
Traditional genealogy combined with information obtained from DNA matches is the preferred strategy for tracing roots to Spain. The first step is building a small family tree.
Most people are able to talk with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even siblings, in order to learn the basic information required to build a small family tree. Once we know where our parents and grandparents came from, we can begin the process of using genealogy records to learn more about our ancestors and build our tree further back.
Last names are important in tracing Spanish DNA
When researching ancestry to Spain, it is important to keep Spanish naming customs in mind. Most Latin American countries, as well as Spain, follow the custom of having two last names.
This does not include the middle name. In other words, a person might have at least four words in their name: a first name, middle name, first last name and second last name.
The first last name is inherited from the father and the second last name comes from the mother. The only last names that are passed down are the paternal names.
This means that if you have the two last names of your ancestor, you also know the last names of both of their grandfathers. This is a really helpful tip when trying to build a family tree a little further back.
People from the the upper echelons of society might even use more surnames, or apellidos. If they come from a prestigious family on their maternal lines, they might use the four last names from all of their grandparents.
As a genealogist, I love this naming custom. My children are citizens of a Spanish-speaking country, and I love seeing my last name on their birth certificates.
I hope that this post has helped you learn more about why your DNA results match the Spain DNA region on Ancestry, what this means for your family tree, and how you might go about tracing it.
If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like to share your own question about the Spain DNA ethnicity region, I would love to hear from you in the discussion below.
Thanks for stopping by!