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What is the Sweden and Denmark DNA Ethnicity on Ancestry?

Did you get the Sweden DNA region on Ancestry? More than 4.5 million people in Canada and the United States have known Swedish roots, and even more have Swedish ancestry that they are just beginning to discover.

In this post, I’ll discuss the most common questions related to the Swedish DNA region on Ancestry.

What is the Sweden DNA Ethnicity on Ancestry_

Where is the Sweden and Denmark DNA Ethnicity on Ancestry located?

Naturally, Swedish and Danish DNA is most commonly found in Sweden and Denmark. However, it is important to note that you can also find substantial percentages of Swedish and Danish DNA outside the modern-day geographic boundaries of these countries.

According to Ancestry, people who live in Denmark are also very likely to have the Sweden DNA region in their ethnicity estimate. The Ancestry DNA update that occurred in September 2021 combined Denmark with the Sweden DNA region, making a new Sweden and Denmark ethnicity region.

The image below shows the approximate region (within the black circle) where people having DNA matching the Sweden and Denmark region is most commonly found.

The region where Swedish and Danish DNA is typically found is within the circle shown on the map. The red region shows the countries that are always defined as part of Scandinavia, and the orange color shows other countries that are generally referred to as Scandinavian by English speakers.
Image credit: By 000peter – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Why is there Sweden DNA in other parts of Europe?

Sweden began to rise in international power and influence during the 1600s. This period of Swedish power lasted for hundreds of years with Sweden in direct control of much of the Baltic region.

Modern-day countries that at one time fell within the realm of Swedish rule include all of Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and parts of Poland, Lithuania and Germany.

The age of the Swedish dominance of Northern Europe ended officially with the loss of Finland to the Russians in 1809, and definitively with the dissolution of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway in 1905. Even so, Swedish DNA lives on in those of us who are descended from people who lived in those places once ruled by Sweden, including Denmark.

Swedish DNA, trade, and the Vikings

If you don’t have ancestors from any of the countries that used to be dominated by Sweden during its age of Northern European dominance, it’s good to keep in mind that economic strength grew along with political power (think: trade, ships, merchants).

Once Swedish dominance began to wane, Swedes began to migrate to other countries in greater numbers, and there has almost always been Swedish migration to the UK.

Finally, while Viking raids happened long, long ago, it’s still possible (and probable) that many people still carry a genetic trace of these Nordic ancestors.

Did you know? Have you heard about the Swedish colony in what is now the United States? Yes, seriously! Sweden once considered parts of modern-day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey part of “New Sweden“.

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How far back in your family tree are your Swedish or Danish ancestors?

You might wonder if there is some way that you can calculate how far back your Swedish ancestor is based on the percentage of Swedish DNA that shows up in your ethnicity estimate.

It’s not possible to know for sure based only on the percentage of the Sweden DNA region that shows up for you, but I will give you a rule of thumb that can help you estimate how far back it might be.

The basic “rule of thumb” for trying to figure out how far back your “100% Swedish” is assumes (for simplicity) that the percentage of the ethnicity will double every generation. For example, if you have 50%, then the assumption is that one of your parents had 100%.

In reality, ethnicity isn’t passed down in beautiful 50% increments (what would be the fun!?), and so we usually have to work a bit harder – especially with a “surprise” ethnicity region – to figure out where our ancestry came from.

Take, for example, my own ethnicity estimate. In the image below, you can see that I have 14% Sweden and Denmark DNA on Ancestry. If the rule of thumb applies to me, then we would expect one of my parents to have 28% Swedish or Danish DNA.

Example of AncestryDNA results showing 14% Sweden and Denmark DNA
My Sweden or Danish DNA may have come from either of parents, and likely any of my four grandparents, as I later learned

I was lucky and my dad agreed to do the Ancestry test, and I can see that the rule of thumb isn’t going to work for me. He has 20% Swedish DNA!

DNA results from my father showing that he has 20% Sweden and Denmark DNA
My paternal grandmother shows only 3% DNA from Sweden and Denmark, which means that my grandfather, who did not do a test, had a substantial portion of his ancestry from this region of the world

In other words, I didn’t inherit 50% of my dad’s Swedish DNA. Additionally, I don’t know if he inherited his DNA matching this region from his mother and his father.

After a bit more research, I realized that my mother also shows DNA matching this region – 14%, to be exact. This means that I likely have inherited some DNA matching the Sweden and Denmark ethnicity region from both of my parents.

The percentage of DNA that we inherit from any of our parents’ DNA ethnicity regions is completely random. We could get half of it, less than half, or more than half (or even all of it!).

True, we inherit 50% of our mother’s DNA and 50% of our father’s DNA, but there is no way to predict which 50% of their DNA will get passed down to us.

Pro tip: Have as many people in your family as possible take DNA tests. Your siblings will have inherited a different selection of DNA from your parents than you did.

Your parents will have DNA for regions that they didn’t pass down to you. Are your grandparents willing to test? They are an amazing resource since they have DNA that they didn’t pass to your parents.

Is it possible to trace your Swedish DNA?

If you are interested in tracing your Swedish or Danish ancestry based on your DNA results, you are in luck. If you start at number one (that’s you!) and work back carefully, you have a good chance at being able to learn information about your Swedish ancestors.

Building your family tree is the best way to find the ancestor who gave you your Sweden and Denmark DNA

What do I mean by “working back” and what’s the best way to do it? In order to learn as much as you can about your ancestry, the best place to start is building a family tree.

It’s fun (really!) and not nearly as difficult as it was for genealogists in the past.

I build my family trees on Ancestry (read why I prefer Ancestry for building family trees). Since I have tested my DNA there, I can easily connect my tree to my DNA results and get access to extra features.

While it’s free to build a family tree on Ancestry, it is easiest to do it with a subscription.

You can add records, photographs, dates, and names very quickly this way, and it saves a lot of time.

If you think you would like to try a free trial on Ancestry to see how you like it, you can use the following link to get a two-week free trial. If you subscribe at the end of your trial, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you that helps me support the work I do on this website (much appreciated!!): Ancestry Free Trial

Conclusion

I hope that this post helped you understand more about your Swedish and Danish DNA, how you may have inherited it, and how far back you might have to look in your family tree to find your Swedish ancestors.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post or if you would like to share your own experience finding Swedish DNA in your Ancestry results, I’d love to hear from you in the discussion below.

Thanks for being here today!


Share the knowledge!

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Stephen Reynolds

Friday 8th of October 2021

Hi I have recently had my revised 2021 dna estimate from Ancestry. Previously I was 10% Scotland and 5% Sweden. Both have now been replaced by 13% Sweden-Denmark. So the Scottish Dna is missing. I had read that Scottish people have alot of Scandinavian dna. I always thought that this was due to the Norwegian Vikings, but I have recently read an article that says that there may be Scottish links with Sweden, although I always assumed that the Swedish Vikings tended to sail East , trade with and colonise the Baltic countries and Russia rather than the west as did the Norwegians and Danes. Apparently there are words in the Swedish language which are similar to Scottish ones, for instance Scottish word for child, “bairn”, for example, is similar to “barn” – Swedish for the same word. If you were to say “I know a bloke” in Scotland, you might say “I ken a bloke”. Spot the echo in the Swedish phrase: “Jag känner en kille”. And there are other similarities. Can you throw any light on this? Do you think I am correct in assuming that I still have Scottish ancestors whose forebears came from Sweden.

Tonya Taylor

Sunday 27th of June 2021

Thank you for your article! I recently took the Ancestry DNA test. As an African American, I was surprised to learn I carry 5% Swedish DNA (ditto for 9% Norway, 2% Irish, and 1% Southeast Asian!). I knew to expect African, and surprised to learn I didn’t inherit my family’s Native American DNA. Your article helped me understand better about how that works, so thank you.

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