European biologists have constructed a genetic map of Europe showing the relations between its various populations.
The right part of the map shows the location in Europe where each of the sampled populations live. The left part shows the genetic relationship between these 23 populations. The area assigned to each population represents the amount of genetic variation in it.
The genetic map of Europe bears a clear structural similarity to the geographic map. However it also clearly identifies two genetic barriers within Europe. The apparent isolation of the Finnish population arose because the Finnish population was once very small and then expanded, bearing the atypical genetics of its few founders. The genetic distance between the Italians and other Europeans is may have been caused by the Alps, who are thought to have hindered the free flow of people between Italy and the rest of Europe.
The pattern of genetic differences is caused by three colonization waves of the European region, respectively 45,000 years ago (when the first humans entered Europe), 17,000 years ago (when people returned after the ice age that froze large parts of Europe) and 10,000 years ago when farmer-immigrants brought new agricultural technology from the Near East.
The team of scientists tested almost 2,500 people to compile their map. The map was published in the August 2008 issue of the scientific journal Current Biology in the article Correlation between Genetic and Geographic Structure. The research was funded by various European institutions. Next we use the data to synthesize the perfect average European model citizen?