1st row: Afonso I • St. Anthony • Álvares Pereira • Vasco da Gama|
2nd row: Camões • Eça de Queiroz • José Barroso • José Saramago
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly Roman Catholic|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Galicians and other Spaniards, other Western Europeans, other Portuguese speaking peoples|
The Portuguese (Portuguese: os Portugueses) are an ethnic group or nation native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion.
Due to the large historical extent of the Portuguese Empire and the colonization of territories in Africa, Asia and the Americas, as well as historical and recent emigration, Portuguese communities can be found in many diverse regions, and a large Portuguese diaspora exists.
Modern Portuguese are an Iberian ethnic group and their ancestry is very similar to other western and southern European peoples, particularly from Spain, with whom it shares ancestry and has some cultural proximity. It is largely consistent with the geographic position of the western part of the Iberian peninsula, located on the extreme southwest of continental Europe. There are clear connections with Atlantic and Western Europe as well as parts of the Mediterranean. Dark to medium brown hair and brown and hazel eyes predominate in a majority of Portuguese people; however, blond hair and blue or green eyes are also found with regular frequency. Chestnut and auburn-colored hair types occur generally. Light, true red hair (meaning red shades that are non-auburn) is seen on occasion.
The earliest modern humans inhabiting Portugal are believed to have been Paleolithic peoples that may have arrived in the Iberian Peninsula as early as 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. Current interpretation of Y-chromosome and mtDNA data suggests that modern-day Portuguese traces largely a significant amount of these lineages to the paleolithic peoples which began arriving to the European continent between the end of the last glaciation around 45,000 years ago.
Northern Iberia is believed to have been a major Ice-age refuge from which Paleolithic humans later colonized Europe. Migrations from what is now Northern Iberia during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic, links modern Iberians to the populations of much of Western Europe and particularly the British Isles and Atlantic Europe. Recent books published by geneticists Bryan Sykes, Stephen Oppenheimer and Spencer Wells have argued the large Paleolithic and Mesolithic Iberian influence in the modern day Irish, Welsh and Scottish gene-pool as well as parts of the English. Indeed, Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b (of Paleolithic origin) is the most common haplogroup in practically all of the Iberian peninsula and western Europe. Within the R1b haplogroup there are modal haplotypes. One of the best-characterized of these haplotypes is the Atlantic Modal Haplotype (AMH). This haplotype reaches the highest frequencies in the Iberian Peninsula and in the British Isles. In Portugal it reaches 33% generally and higher than 90% in some of the northern regions of the country.
The Neolithic colonization of Europe from Western Asia and the Middle East beginning around 10,000 years ago reached Iberia, as most of the rest of the continent although, according to the demic diffusion model, its impact was most in the southern and eastern regions of the European continent.
Starting in the 3rd millennium BC as well as in the Bronze Age, the first wave of migrations into Iberia of speakers of Indo-European languages occurred. These were later (7th and 5th Centuries BC) followed by others that can be identified as Celts.
Eventually, urban cultures developed in southern Iberia, such as Tartessos, influenced by the Phoenician colonization of coastal Mediterranean Iberia, with strong competition from the Greek colonization.
These two processes defined Iberia's, and Portugal's, cultural landscape - Mediterranean towards the southeast and a Continental in the northwest, as historian José Mattoso describes it. Given the origins from Paleolithic and Neolithic settlers as well as Indo-European migrations, one can say that the Portuguese ethnic origin is mainly a mixture of pre-Roman Pre-Indo-Europeans (such as, in other parts of Iberia, the Iberians, Tartessians and Aquitanians), Pre-Celtic, Proto-Celtic and Celtic peoples, producing peoples such as the Lusitanians of Lusitania, the Calaicians or Gallaeci of Gallaecia, the Celtici and the Cynetes of the Alentejo and the Algarve.
Other influences included the Phoenicians/Carthaginians (small semi-permanent commercial coastal establishments in the south before 200 BC), the Vandals (Silingi and Hasdingi) and the Sarmatian Alans (both migrated to North Africa, while some were partially integrated by the Visigoths and Suevi), and the Visigoths and Suevi (including the Buri, permanently established in the early 5th century), along with, in the period of the Al-Andalus, numbers of Arabs and Berbers, Saqaliba (people of Slavic origin) and Jews who also settled in what is today Portuguese territory.
The ancestry of modern Portuguese has been influenced by the many people which have passed on its territory throughout history. Overall, these people include the Pre-Roman People of the Iberian Peninsula (such as the Lusitanians, Calaicians, Celtici, Cynetes and other minor local tribes as the Bracari, Coelerni, Equaesi, Grovii, Interamici, Leuni, Luanqui, Limici, Narbasi, Nemetati, Paesuri, Quaquerni, Seurbi, Tamagani, Tapoli, Turduli, Turduli Veteres, Turdulorum Oppida, Turodi and Zoelae), Romans, Vandals, Suebi and Buri, Visigoths, Alans, Vikings, Saqaliba (Slavs), Moors (Berbers and, to a lesser extent, Arabs), and Jews (Sephardim or Marranos).
There exists a number of studies which focus on the genetic impact of the eight centuries (less than six in Portugal) of Muslim influence in the Iberian peninsula (al-Andalus) on the genetic make up of the Iberian population. Recent studies show minor genetic relationships between some regions in Iberia and some North African populations as a result of this period of history. Iberia is the region in Europe which has the most significant presence of E-M81, U6 and Haplotype Va, although this influence may be the result of ancient demic processes that predate the Islamic presence, and may constitute the result of some common western Mediterranean population background. In Portugal, North Africans Y-DNA haplogroups (especially the typically North West African Y-chromosome haplotypes E-M81) are found at a total frequency of 7.1 %. Some mtDNA studies also found evidence of the characteristic North African haplogroup U6 especially in northern Portugal. Although the absolute frequency of U6 is low (4-6%), Gonzalez et al. 2003 estimated a possible North African ancestry proportion of 27% in North Portugal, because U6 is not a common lineage in North Africa itself.
According to some studies, the North African and Arab element in modern day Iberian ancestry is exceedingly trivial when compared to the pre-Islamic ancestral basis, and the Gibraltar Strait seems to have functioned much more as a genetic barrier than a bridge. However, one study using different genetic markers reached different conclusions. In an autosomal study by Spínola et al. 2005 that analysed the HLA genes (inherited from all ancestors instead of the paternal or maternal direct lineages) in hundred of individuals in Portugal showed that the Portuguese population has been genetically influenced by other Europeans and North Africans, via several ancient historic immigrations. According to the authors, North and South Portugal show more similarity to North Africans in opposition to Centre which appears closer to other Europeans due to the fact that North Portugal seems to concentrate, probably due to the pressure of Arab expansion, an ancient genetic pool originated from several North Africans and other Europeans, influences throughout millenniums while South Portugal shows a North African genetic influence, probably of recent origin by means of Berbers accompanying Arab expansion.