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 44,703 DNA samples that divide the world into 70 overlapping regions and groups.

Here is the breakdown of how many individuals are in each of the 70 regions:

Region Number of Samples
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander 24
Baltics 195
Basque 31
Benin & Togo 466
Burusho 23
Cameroon, Congo & Western Bantu Peoples 533
Central Asia-South 383
Indigenous Cuba 3,420
Cyprus 161
Dai 65
Eastern Bantu Peoples 138
Eastern Europe and Russia 1,084
Eastern Polynesia & New Zealand Maori 188
England & Northwestern Europe 1,326
Ethiopia & Eritrea 85
European Jewish 448
Finland 402
France 1,754
Germanic Europe 2,095
Greece & Albania 405
Guam 57
Indigenous Americas-Andes 139
Indigenous Americas-Central 1,232
Indigenous Americas–Colombia & Venezuela 2,500
Indigenous Americas-Mexico 720
Indigenous Americas-North 2,284
Indigenous Americas-Yucatan 156
Indigenous Arctic 36
Indigenous Eastern South America 2,873
Indigenous Haiti & Dominican Republic 2,858
Indigenous Puerto Rico 4,791
Iran / Persia 627
Ireland 732
Ivory Coast & Ghana 236
Khoisan, Aka & Mbuti Peoples 38
Korea 197
Mali 408
Malta 106
Melanesia 50
Middle East 466
Mongolia & Central Asia-North 229
Nigeria 521
Northern Africa 123
Northern Asia 43
Northern China 251
Northern India 514
Northern Italy 554
Northern Japan 150
Northern Philippines 150
Norway 642
Portugal 713
Samoa 76
Sardinia 38
Scotland 1,411
Senegal 114
Somalia 32
Southeast Asia 240
Southern Bantu Peoples 162
Southern China 298
Southern India 169
Southern Italy 971
Southern Japanese Islands 42
Southern Philippines 124
Spain 637
Sweden 740
The Balkans 824
Tonga 94
Turkey & the Caucasus 393
Vietnam 236
Wales 480
Total 44,703

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.