Haplogroup Map: Y DNA v mtDNA

Diahan Southard

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Y DNA and mtDNA haplogroup maps chart the deep origins of your paternal or maternal lines. The specificity of your YDNA or mtDNA haplogroup results varies by test, and so does its value for building your family tree. Read more!

When you participate in DNA testing for family history, your results may include some haplogroup information. Your DNA haplogroup attempts to describe the deep history and migration paths of some of your ancestors. Your Y DNA haplogroup pertains to the origins of your direct paternal line; your mtDNA haplogroup points to your direct maternal line.

Did you catch that? Haplogroups point to deep ancestral places—thousands of years ago, not hundreds of years ago. Most DNA test results that come with haplogroup results just show you high level haplogroups. These probably aren’t going to help you identify the national origins of a 3x great grandparent, such as whether she was Irish or Italian, or whether he hailed from Morocco or Egypt. And they don’t point solely to one place, because ancient populations, like today’s, were on the move.

Let’s first look at mtDNA, and then Y DNA, haplogroups.

mtDNA Haplogroup Map of the World

Both men and women have an mtDNA haplogroup, since mothers pass it to all of their children. (Only women continue to pass it on to the next generation, which is why mtDNA is associated strictly with your maternal line.) An mtDNA haplogroup assignment is a combination of letters and numbers.

Family Tree DNA test kit cropped.jpg

Both Living DNA and 23andMe provide some basic mtDNA haplogroup information with their autosomal DNA tests. These may include just the first few characters of your full haplogroup. It’s like receiving a high-level assignment to a very big and old haplogroup branch. Only taking an mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA will give you detailed or refined haplogroup information. A good way to think of these different levels is like telling someone that your shirt is green, vs telling them it is chartreuse. Both are true. But the latter is more specific.

Learn More: mtDNA

Here’s a haplogroup map of the locations and migratory paths scientists believe are associated with various mtDNA haplogroups.

"Hypothesized map of human migration based on mitochondrial DNA." By User:Maulucioni - Migraciones humanas en haplogrupos mitocondriales.PNG, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32585433.

“Hypothesized map of human migration based on mitochondrial DNA.” By User:Maulucioni – Migraciones humanas en haplogrupos mitocondriales.PNG, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32585433.

If you are researching your maternal line, this haplogroup information can help you theorize broadly about that specific line’s origins (ie, “they were likely not Native American”).

Y DNA Haplogroup Map of the World

Y DNA testing can be done only by genetic males. (So, if you’re a woman, ask a direct male descendant of the line you’re exploring to take a YDNA test.) For family history purposes, your only option is to purchase a Y DNA test from Family Tree DNA*.

Get a YDNA Test

The Y DNA haplogroup map below shows the general deep ancestral places and migratory paths associated with various haplogroups (shown at the highest levels).

Image used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Image used under CC BY-SA 3.0

I know, this is a lot to take in! Focus on the colors to just see how different haplogroups tend to inhabit certain parts of the world. Notice specifically in Europe that those blue lines are kind of all over, making it very hard to pin down an ancestral location.

As you can see, you can get a general idea of your paternal line origins from your haplogroup—and perhaps an even better idea of where your paternal line doesn’t originate.

In some situations, Y-DNA haplogroups can give genealogically-significant clues—meaning, hints that can help you build your family tree. This is most often achieved when you take the BigY test from Family Tree DNA.

Learn more about Y DNA testing for free. Take our YDNA FREE Get Started Course to consider the many ways YDNA might help you answer your questions about your family history. The Get Started Course is an excerpt from our YDNA for Genealogy Course, which takes you deeper into understanding Y-haplogroups and using them in genealogy research (as well as other topics such as YDNA matching, surname project participation, and when to use Big Y).

Check out the YDNA FREE Get Started Course

More Recent than Haplogroups: DNA Ethnicity Estimates

If you’re interested in your ancestral ethnicity, you’ll be pleased to know your DNA ethnicity results are gradually becoming both more precise and more accurate. Learn more in our free downloadable guide to understanding your ethnicity results!

Get Free Guide to DNA Ethnicity Results

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<a href="https://www.yourdnaguide.com/author/guideyourdnaguide-com" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.


  1. Occultistdestroyer

    Disgusting map. "berber" is a french colonial slur and not even "amazigh" is a thing, both terms are garbages. No history, nothing, just colonial slurs, can you stop it? We aren’t ni***** or ki***, Have some respect for history and genetics.
    We were always called either Libyans, Canaanites, Punics, Africans, North Africans, Maghrebis, Arabs. You have a panel of terms, stop insulting the Maghrebis.

    • glottochronologist

      Berber is a linguistic term, as noted on the map, it says "ethnolinguistic". Berber refers to a group of languages that are a branch of Afro-Asiatic, together with Semitic, Omotic, Cushitic. It is the standard scientific term used in all linguistics research.

    • John Arto

      This is ridiculous. The Berber people are what they have been known as for hundreds of years. It’s an accurate term. I know. I’ve been to the high Atlas Mountains where Berbers live.

      • Nabil

        Excuse me who said you are amazigh yes you are berbers not even amazigh like us the physical body and your looks 100% yemeni browny cush the really amazigh are white tall and handsome and they doesn’t call there selfs berbers

      • keith o'híobháird

        why are you complaining about this site using the term “berber”?? You use the term yourself, “The Berber people are what they have been……”, “…been to the high Atlas Mountains where Berbers live”. YOU use the term, why can’t they?

  2. Diahan Southard

    Thank you for your comment. I wish I had haplogroup maps with more authentic names for all historical groups, rather than names imposed on them by others.

  3. Masnsn

    @Occultistdestroyer North africans are not arabs in any means, they have
    E1B1B/M-81 arabs have J1 and punics were phoenicians (J2), but the majority of the population was amazigh/north african. Also, since the people that didn’t lose their mother tongue (tamazight) call themselves "Imazighen". Then you have no right to say its just garbage. The only garbage here is your point. The only thing i agree with is that berber is a despective name that comes from "Barbarian" (Romans called any non-roman citizen this). So the correct answer is to call us Imazighen or Amazigh people.

  4. Sandra L Czyrny

    Is (are) there (an(y)) accurate, unbiased text(s) for education covering the formation and migration and extinction of all life on earth from the “Big Bang” to the future (including the genetics of all species and changes that came and went, or still exist)? Where did homeo-sapiens get their genes from? What has been the influence of wars, conflicts, murders on different human populations differentiated by their male and female heritages? For example, who is killing who in Russo-Ukraine conflict today genetically? It is called a genocide by some. What human Y haplogroup is most prevalent in the world today and how? What maternal line is most prevalent and how? I know it is alot of time to cover…

  5. Nabil

    It’s so rude whole companies dna test racist and colonized by french still insulting as as amazigh to call us berbers even arab now calling us berbers they let does creatures insulting us and look at us down by does dirty misirable frenchies please respect our history and our civilization we are amazigh atlantis even guanches amazigh are same our dna not berbers its rude and racist name we most sue does companies everyone call us berbers most charge about this we have dignity not garbage and thank you

    • Diahan Southard

      Thanks for leaving your comment and sharing that insight. That is one flaw we have found with haplogroup maps. Hopefully soon someone will publish a haplogroup map with more authentic names for all historical groups, rather than names that were imposed on them by outside groups.

  6. AC

    My mtdna haplogroup in Q…but I am predominantly of European descent (including an East Prussian immigrant mother). I realize that mtdna is ancient, but I’m just not seeing that mtdna reflected in Europe seemingly at all. Where does it show up in Europe? How did it get there?
    I also have some South Asian, East Asian, and AdMixed American dna.


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