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Genetics and the Origin of the Finns

  1. Reijo Norio

Published Online: 13 JUN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020806.pub2



How to Cite

Norio, R. 2013. Genetics and the Origin of the Finns. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Norio Centre, Helsinki, Finland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 JUN 2013


The population of Finland initiated from neighbouring southeastern areas 10 000 years ago when the glacial ice melted, and it developed further from several European sources, among them the Ukrainian and Iberian refuges. According to nuclear gene studies, the Finns belong to the European family, with some eastern components. In mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid studies, the Finns are indistinguishable from other Europeans. High values of Y-chromosomal C>T transition point to male population movements on the east–west axis. The genetic difference between western and eastern Finns is shown also by genome-wide data of nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms. The Finnish Disease Heritage means overrepresentation of approximately 40 rare recessive disorders. It is due to the national isolation between Sweden and Russia and the regional isolation from 500-year-old internal migrations. This rare disease flora enjoys favourable conditions for clinical and molecular genetic research.

Key Concepts:

  • As a rule, human populations are formed from some kind of ancient primary population and immigrants of later times.

  • Genes and interrelationships of historical populations can be studied from the genes of the people of today.

  • In the northern countries, the glacial period approximately 10 000 years back is the time limit for the population of some geographical areas.

  • The genes of rare diseases need not to be brought from somewhere but may have originated from new gene mutations not very far back in time.

  • The genetic composition of the population of Finland is mainly ‘European’, but its remote position on the northern edge of the continent has created some exceptions to the main rules.


  • Finland;
  • mtDNA;
  • Y-chromosome;
  • SNPs;
  • Finland for Finnish Disease Heritage;
  • East-west difference among the Finns