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Summary

We have analysed 302 bp of the first hypervariable region of the mitochondrial D-loop in 271 individuals from different regions of the Iberian Peninsula and 85 individuals from Algeria. The Basque population is significantly different from neighbouring populations in terms of overall levels of diversity. This is because the majority of sequences in the Basques are restricted to the lineage group defined by the CRS (Cambridge Reference Sequence) and its derivatives although, like other Iberian populations, they showed a unimodal distribution of pairwise sequence differences. The timing of divergence of populations within Iberia points to a shared ancestry of all populations in the Upper Palaeolithic. Further genetic subdivision is apparent in Catalonia and Andalusia, with increased genetic diversity in the latter. Lineage diversity comparisons of Iberian populations with European (Tuscan) and North African (Algerian) populations shows the Iberian Peninsula to be more similar to other European populations, although a small number of Iberian lineages can be traced to North Africa.