AncestryDNA uses two different approaches to figure out the regions in your DNA Story. In one we compare your DNA to the DNA from people in a reference panel. (The second uses Genetic Communities™. Read more about communities.)

Using a Reference Panel

A reference panel is made up of people with a long family history in one place or as part of one group. To make it into the AncestryDNA reference panel, these folks need two things. First, they need a paper trail that proves their family history. Then, they must have their ethnicity confirmed at the DNA level. It is not easy to make it into the panel!

To tell your DNA story, we compare your DNA to the people in the reference panel and look for DNA you share. If some of your DNA is similar to the DNA of folks from Senegal, for example, we assign that part of your DNA to our Senegal region. And so on until we have looked at your whole DNA sample.

On your results list, regions based on the reference panel have a solid-circle icon that looks like this:

Building a Reference Panel

The current AncestryDNA reference panel has 56,580 DNA samples that divide the world into 77 overlapping regions and groups.

Here is the breakdown of how many individuals are in each of the 77 regions:

Region Number of Samples
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander 53
Aegean Islands 366
Anatolia & the Caucasus 368
Arabian Peninsula 105
The Balkans 1,325
Baltics 245
Basque 98
Bengal 228
Benin & Togo 487
Burusho 23
Cameroon, Congo & Western Bantu Peoples 533
Central Asia-South 573
Cyprus 258
Dai 90
Eastern Bantu Peoples 167
Eastern Europe & Russia 1,454
Eastern Polynesia & New Zealand Maori 244
Egypt 252
England & Northwestern Europe 1,907
Ethiopia & Eritrea 98
European Jewish 447
Finland 401
France 3,099
Germanic Europe 3,261
Greece & Albania 482
Guam 133
Indigenous Americas-Bolivia & Peru 371
Indigenous Americas-Central 1,614
Indigenous Americas-Chile 467
Indigenous Americas–Colombia & Venezuela 3,162
Indigenous Americas-Ecuador 691
Indigenous Americas-Mexico 697
Indigenous Americas-North 2,000
Indigenous Americas-Panama & Costa Rica 475
Indigenous Americas-Yucatan Peninsula 302
Indigenous Arctic 36
Indigenous Cuba 3,408
Indigenous Eastern South America 2,671
Indigenous Haiti & Dominican Republic 2,840
Indigenous Puerto Rico 4,773
Iran / Persia 774
Ireland 794
Ivory Coast & Ghana 272
Japan 150
Khoisan, Aka & Mbuti Peoples 38
Korea 280
Levant 225
Mali 458
Malta 104
Melanesia 91
Mongolia & Central Asia-North 237
Nigeria 569
Northern Africa 287
Northern Asia 41
Northern China 340
Northern India 614
Northern Italy 1,179
Northern Philippines 210
Norway 790
Portugal 893
Samoa 96
Sardinia 75
Scotland 1,797
Senegal 168
Somalia 41
Southeast Asia 287
Southern Bantu Peoples 183
Southern China 479
Southern India 114
Southern Italy 1,365
Southern Japanese Islands 63
Southern Philippines 272
Spain 917
Sweden & Denmark 1,053
Tonga 121
Vietnam 235
Wales 764
Total 56,580

Still curious to understand more? Cool--we're glad you're as interested in genetics as we are. Check out our white paper on ethnicity prediction.