The Somali people, also known as Somalis (Somali: Soomaaliyeed, Arabic: الصوماليون‎), are amalgamated clans of ancient nomadic and warrior Cushitic Somali-speaking ethnolinguistic groups inhabiting the Horn of Africa popularly known as Somali Peninsula.

Somalis, known for being the most homogeneous people in Africa and the world, are predominantly Sunni Muslims, and they have mixed over the years with Arab settlers. They reside in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. The recent mtDNA studies on Somali people have uncovered several facts about it.


The Somali people are ancient and indigenous, descending from a common ancestor called Irir Samaale (Irir Samali), who migrated from the Ethiopian highlands and was likely of Cushitic Oromo ethnicity. The patriarch Samaale did not arrive in Somalia from Yemen during the 9th century and founded the Somali ethnic group, as some Arab historians have claimed. Instead, Somalis are part of the African Cushitic ethnic group, and indigenous genetics make up 80% of the genes of the Horn of Africa, which are found only among themselves.

Recent genetic studies have shown that the Somalis are paternally related to certain Ethiopian groups, particularly Cushitic speakers. The Somali male population is a branch of the East African population, closely related to the Oromos in Ethiopia and northern Kenya, and has predominant E1b1b1 cluster lineages.

The Somalis are genetically distinct from others in Africa and are characterized by a strong maternal influence of Caucasoid lineages in East Africa. However, its contribution is higher than previously reported in mtDNA studies.

According to the mtDNA study, Somali, as a representative East African population, seems to have experienced a detectable amount of Caucasoid maternal influence. The proportion of Caucasoid lineages in Somalia is 46%. The Somali people and their fellow Ethiopian and Eritrean Northeast African populations represent a unique and distinct biological group on the continent.

The nomadic Somali people existed in Ethiopia long before the prehistoric paintings on the cave of Laas Gaal in Somalia were ever made. Irir Samale, a nomadic man from a nomadic Ethiopian tribe, migrated to Somalia. This migration of the Somali people from Ethiopia was facilitated by the repeated use of the Levantine corridor and the Horn of Africa as migratory corridors between Africa and Eurasia, which led to interbreeding between them. Hence the presence of some Eurasia features among Somalis.

Here is the detailed information about the study:
“The male Somali population branches the East African population, which is closely related to the Oromos in Ethiopia and North Kenya −with predominant E3b1 [now “E1b1b1”] cluster lineages and that the Somali male population has approximately 15% Y chromosomes from Eurasia and about 5% from sub-Saharan Besides comprising the majority of the Y DNA in Somalis, the E1b1b1a (formerly E3b1a) haplogroup also makes up a significant proportion of the paternal DNA of Ethiopians, Sudanese, Egyptians, Berbers, North African Arabs, as well as many Mediterranean and Balkan Europeans.


The M78 subclade of E1b1b is found in about 77% of Somali males, which, according to Cruciani et al. (2007), may represent the traces of an ancient migration into the Horn of Africa from Egypt/Libya. After haplogroup E1b1b, Somalis’ second most frequently occurring Y DNA haplogroup is the Eurasian haplogroup T (M70), found in slightly more than 10% of Somali males. Haplogroup T, like haplogroup E1b1b, is also typically found among Northeast Africa, North Africa, the Near East and the Mediterranean populations.

According to mtDNA studies by Holden (2005) and Richards et al. (2006), a significant proportion of the maternal lineages of Somalis consists of the M1 haplogroup, which is common among Ethiopians and North Africans, particularly Egyptians and Algerians. M1 is believed to have originated in Asia, where its parent M clade represents the majority of mtDNA lineages (particularly in India).

This haplogroup is also thought to correlate with the Afro-Asiatic language family possibly:
“We analyzed mtDNA variation in ~250 persons from Libya, Somalia, and Congo/Zambia, as representatives of the three regions of interest. Our initial results indicate a sharp cline in M1 frequencies that generally does not extend into sub-Saharan Africa.

While our North and especially East African samples contained frequencies of M1 over 20%, our sub-Saharan pieces only consisted almost entirely of the L1 or L2 haplogroups. In addition, there existed a significant amount of homogeneity within the M1 haplogroup. This sharp cline indicates a history of slight admixture between these regions. This could imply a more recent ancestry for M1 in Africa, as older lineages are more diverse and widespread by nature, and may indicate a back-migration into Africa from the Middle East.”

Another mtDNA study indicates that:
“Somali, as a representative East African population, seem to have experienced a detectable amount of Caucasoid maternal influence the proportion m of Caucasoid lineages in the Somali is m = 0.46 [46%] Our results agree with the hypothesis of a maternal influence of Caucasoid lineages in East Africa, although its contribution seems higher than previously reported in mtDNA studies.” These genetic studies conclude that Somalis and their fellow Ethiopian and Eritrean Northeast.


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