This study investigates the GM genetic relationships of 82 human populations, among which 10 represent original data, within and among the main broad geographic areas of the world. Different approaches are used: multidimensional scaling analysis and test for isolation by distance, to assess the correlation between genetic variation and spatial distributions; analysis of variance, to investigate the genetic structure at different hierarchical levels of population subdivision; genetic similarity map (geographic map distorted by available genetic information), to identify regions of high and low genetic variation; and minimal spanning network, to point out possible migration routes across continental areas. The results show that the GM polymorphism is characterized by one of the highest amounts of genetic variation observed so far among populations of different continents (Fct = 0.3915, P < 0.0001). GM diversity can be explained by a model of isolation by distance (IBD) at most continental levels, with a particularly significant fit to IBD for the Middle East and Europe. Five peripheral regions of the world (Europe, west and south sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and America) exhibit a low level of genetic diversity both within and among populations. By contrast, East and North African, Southwest Asian, and Northeast Asian populations are highly diverse and interconnected genetically by large genetic distances. Therefore, the observed GM variation can be explained by a “centrifugal model” of modern humans peopling history, involving ancient dispersals across a large intercontinental area spanning from East Africa to Northeast Asia, followed by recent migrations in peripheral geographic regions. Am J Phys Anthropol 123:000–000, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.