Cape Verdean 23andme results

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Summary of survey findings
      • Continental breakdown
      • African breakdown
      • Substructure within Cape Verde
      • Recent Ancestor Locations
  3. Screenshots of 23andme results for Cape Verdeans
  4. Screenshots of 23andme results for people of partial Cape Verdean descent

1) Intro

This page features screenshots of 23andme results of Cape Verdeans as well as people of partial Cape Verdean descent. For greater insight make sure to scroll down and browse through all screenshots, incl. the very last section. Seeing all those individual results should make it apparent how “Senegambian & Guinean” acts as a signature region for Upper Guinean lineage among practically all people of Cape Verdean descent. Once again confirming the overwhelmingly Upper Guinean African roots of Cape Verdeans. Very consistently so among Cape Verdeans of predominant African descent as well as Cape Verdeans with only minor African admixture. In line with both historical plausibility as well as geography. And in fact also independently corroborated by similar outcomes on Ancestry which has an equivalent “Senegal” region (see my previous survey findings).

Looking into the results of people of mixed Cape Verdean background reinforces this general rule even more. Because even for people with only 1 Cape Verdean grandparent or even just 1 single Cape Verdean great grandparent 23andme will usually still be able to detect some degree of “Senegambian & Guinean”. Clearly indicative of their partial Cape Verdean lineage (along with “Spanish & Portuguese”). Even when diluted and minor usually still highly distinctive! A perfect illustration of how regional admixture DOES matter! To be enhanced of course by any relevant follow-up research and awareness of inherent limitations.1

When reviewing these results it is essential to be aware that 23andme has implemented several updates in the last two years. Often beneficial for Tracing African Roots! Starting with the introduction of a new African regional framework in 2018. In 2019 new reference samples were added for especially North Africa. While also the potentially very useful Recent Ancestor Locations feature has been greatly expanded. In 2020 an upgraded algorithm was introduced. I will indicate for each screenshot which version it represents. In fact the differences between the 2018 & 2019 versions tend to be slight for most people. When looking only at the African scores. But the 2020 update did cause a greater impact. For greater understanding of how 23andme is able to come up with these results and how to correctly interpret the African breakdown read these links:

2) Cape Verdean group averages

In order to attain greater insight for these Cape Verdean results I have performed a survey (based almost exclusively on the 2018 version).2 The main focus being on the African breakdown. Given that the sample size of my survey (n=100) is quite robust it will be useful to look into their group averages and compare with other parts of the Afro-Diaspora. Also in your personal quest as it might serve as a helpful baseline so to speak. Which makes it easier to see how your own results fit in the greater picture. Do keep in mind that in my surveys I always scale the African breakdown to 100%! So in order to compare you will first have to calculate your own scaled results. Which is very simple. Basically: % for a given African region divided by % of total African amount. Naturally individual variation is a given and is not to be denied! Any meaningful deviations from the group averages hopefully serving as useful clues.3 See links below for my online spreadsheet which features all of the individual results:

Aside from a strictly personalized perspective of course also on a more broader population level the historical context  will remain essential to really get the most out of your own admixture results. As most of the time your results will actually conform more or less with the results of other people with similar backgrounds. And therefore in the greater scheme of things your own personal African roots will be pretty much the same as for other people with your particular background. Afterall most of our more distant African lineage will be shared with fellow countrymen with whom we share more recent ancestral ties. Reinforced by relative endogamy.

Overall therefore a great degree of homogeneity exists among all Cape Verdeans. But localized genepools and differences in historically shaped demographics for certain islands are also causing substructure within Cape Verde according to island origins. Most apparent when looking into the continental breakdown. Even when of course across the generations Cape Verdeans have been migrating and intermingling with people from other islands as well. Even more so when being part of multi-generational Cape Verdean migrant communities in the USA and other parts of the Cape Verdean Diaspora across the world. Further reading:

Continental breakdown

Table 1 (click to enlarge) 

Generally speaking most Cape Verdeans are racially mixed. Due to lack of space and the overall focus of this blog I will not discuss the non-African admixture scores of my Cape Verdean survey group in greater detail. But of course these ancestral components are very interesting in their own right as well! MENA is short for Middle Eastern & North African. The 14% outlier being reported for someone of partial Moroccan Jewish descent. See also this screenshot for an overview of my previous Ancestry survey findings (n=100).

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Table 2 (click to enlarge)

The island origins of my survey participants are not based on a 4 grand parents criterium per se. But often this was indeed confirmed by their profile details on 23andme or else by PM. Either way insightful variation according to island origins. Take notice especially of the highest subgroup averages which have been highlighted in red. The African admixture ranges (min. – max.) were as follows: Barlavento (34%-70%); Brava and Fogo (5%-56%) ; Santiago (65%-77%). Compare also with my previous survey findings on Ancestry

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Of course my 23andme survey may have several limitations. Principally the underrepresentation of samples from Santiago and other islands like Maio, Boavista and Sal. But still I believe the sample size of n=100 is quite robust already. My findings are in line with last known racial census data and other published studies on Cape Verdean genetics.4 Furthermore this 23andme survey is also mostly in agreement with my previous Ancestry survey findings from 2018. The main outcome being that all of my Cape Verdean survey participants show a considerable degree of continental admixture. Often in balanced proportions between African & European. But also often tending more so toward either one of these two main ancestral components for Cape Verdeans. Aside from minor but at times still distinctive amounts of especially North African admixture.

Due to lack of space and the overall focus of this blog I will not discuss the non-African admixture scores of my Cape Verdean survey group in greater detail on this page.5 But of course these ancestral components are very interesting in their own right as well! In line with expectations as well as my previous Ancestry survey findings the European component of Cape Verdeans is mainly described as “Spanish and Portuguese”. After the upgrade of 23andme’s algorithm in 2020 this is even more true. Possibly over-homogenized in some cases. But overall still corresponding with Cape Verde’s European origins overwhelmingly being Portuguese. Even when also additional lineage from other European countries might exist in individual cases. In line with my previous Ancestry survey the highest degree of European ancestry was to be found among my survey participants from Brava (63%).

The Middle Eastern & North African (=MENA) component for Cape Verdeans was almost certainly underestimated by 23andme’s 2018 version. After the 2019 & 2020 updates 23andme is now much better able to detect this type of admixture. Usually leading to a clear increase in such results. The highest degree of MENA admixture to be found among my survey participants from Fogo (1.9%). Unlike in my previous Ancestry survey I have this time not kept score of any Jewish admixture. Because generally speaking this was nearly always absent or minimal (<1%). At least when measured by the “Ashkenazi Jewish” category. Not that surprising perhaps given that this category is not well equipped to pick up on Sephardi Jewish lineage. Which would be most relevant for Cape Verdeans. Such lineage perhaps best explored by finding associated DNA matches (see this blog post).

The same also goes for South Asian admixture which was quite minimal going by group averages. Usually within noise range (<1%) and therefore to be critically assessed. On the other hand such scores were also surprisingly consistent for especially my survey participants from Santo Antão or with partial origins from that island. At times (7/100) also exceeding more than 1%. The highest score of 7.8% beyond a doubt being genuine and also specified by a Goa recent ancestor location (see this screenshot)! This maximum score of “South Asian” admixture belonging to a known cousin of mine! Such lineage already being known from family lore. Intriguingly implying that also the more diluted scores might actually be genuine. Possibly inter-related to some extent but probably more than one Goan ancestor being involved. As far as I know this is the first time a Goa-Cape Verde connection is showing up in a genetic study. I aim to blog about these findings in greater detail eventually. See also:

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Table 3 (click to enlarge)

This chart is showing the full extent of African ancestry among my Cape Verdean survey participants.  The most frequent African admixture interval is 50-60%.  In my  previous Ancestry survey it was 40%-50%. Because this time I managed to include a greater number of survey participants with predominant African admixture from Santiago as well as the so-called Barlavento islands, especially Santo Antão. In addition to also still a sizeable number of people from Brava and Fogo.

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“The group averages are displaying a remarkable balance between African & European admixture. Practically 50/50 proportions. This thorough racial blending marks a key aspect of not only Cape Verdean genetics but also Cape Verdean creolized culture and Caboverdianidade. One should be careful though to exclusively equate the Creole a.k.a. Crioulo identity of all Cape Verdeans with being racially mixed per se, or at least not in balanced proportions. The all-inclusive Crioulo identity of Cape Verdeans (regardless of racial appearance or DNA results) is often misunderstood by outsiders which causes them to apply it for inappropriate and potentially divisive racial classifications.”  (Fonte Felipe 2018)

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In line with my previous survey based on Ancestry results (n=100, see this chart) as well as various DNA studies the greater part of my Cape Verdean survey participants seems to be racially mixed in more or less balanced proportions. Table 3 is demonstrating that 74% of my survey group has African DNA falling within the 30%-70% bracket (15+17+28+14). While the most frequent African admixture interval was 50-60%. Also as can be seen in Table 1 the group average for African admixture was 48% while the median (50% cut-off) was 50%.

As shown in Table 2 island origins are correlating with this spectrum. Obviously my sample size is rather minimal. But still the outcomes correspond with prior expectations and previous studies. The lowest degree of African ancestry (28%) was to be found among persons from Brava. This island being known to have many predominantly European descended people. A great part of Cape Verdean Americans also hailing from this smallest inhabited island within Cape Verde. While the highest average of African ancestry (73%) was found among my 5 confirmed survey participants from Santiago. Which is the biggest and most populated island of Cape Verde. Santiago is often said to have retained its African heritage the best, both culturally and genetically. I actually suspect that several additional 70%+ African results belong to people from Santiago as well. But this was not confirmed to me.

On the other hand of course on each island there will also be internal variation. And in fact two 70% African results were obtained by two persons with confirmed origins from Santo Antão! The African admixture ranges (min. – max.) for each of the island (-subgroups) were as follows: Barlavento (Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau): 34%-70%; Brava and Fogo: 5%-56%; Santiago: 65%-77%. To be kept in mind and to be respected is that Cape Verdeans tend to have their own perspective on racial classification and their Creole identity, a.k.a. Crioulidade, see also :

Compare also with my previous survey results based on 100 AncestryDNA results. Which are greatly similar. However with my 23andme survey a more even distribution is appearing. Also expanding into the extremes on either side. Most likely because this time I managed to include a greater number of survey participants with predominant African admixture from Santiago as well as the so-called Barlavento islands. In addition to also still a sizeable number of people from Brava and Fogo. Including a few even with minimal African admixture of less than 10%! Do keep in mind that on AncestryDNA “North African” scores are included in the total African amounts. While on 23andme this category is separate from “Sub-Saharan African”. Also the “Unassigned” scores on 23andme are to be taken into account. These could get as high as 5% for Cape Verdeans during the 2018 version.

African breakdown

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Table 4 (click to enlarge)

In the above chart I am using a 3-way macro-regional framework. Due to fewer West African regions available on 23andme it is not completely the same as what I have used for my previous Ancestry surveys (Upper Guinea, Lower Guinea, Central/Southeast Africa, see this chart). However for Cape Verdeans so-called “Ghanaian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean” is most likely an additional Upper Guinean component. To be combined with “Senegambian & Guinean”. In accordance with expectations the African roots of my survey group are overwhelmingly West African (>90%) with a clear shift towards Upper Guinea. Compared with my previous Ancestry survey the Central African as well as Lower Guinean (“Nigerian”) components are even more so minimal but intriguingly still present. Not shown in this table but also the additional 5% “Broadly African” is to be taken into account.

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Table 5 (click to enlarge)

“Senegambian & Guinean” represents around 73% of the African breakdown, on average. Clearly it is the primary signature region of all Cape Verdeans (100/100) in my survey.  However  “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean”  scores were still quite substantial  at around 10%. And also consistently appearing. Most likely describing an additional part of Upper Guinean lineage for Cape Verdeans. Sierra Leonean ancestry (Temne) is historically speaking quite likely in fact.

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Table 6 (click to enlarge)

This table is taken from my African survey of 23andme results. Despite limited sample size it is still already apparent that based on their scaled African breakdown Cape Verdeans are very similar to Senegambians and Guineans. Actually not only with relation to their primary region. But also notice how “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is at a comparable level. And otherwise this region is peaking in Sierra Leone and Mali which are also historically plausible countries of origin for Cape Verdeans. Then again some of the minor deviations (highlighted in red) might already be indicative of diluted lineage from outside of Upper Guinea. The minimal Northeast African scores most likely referring to Sahelian West African DNA however. As it is also reported for Senegambians and Guineans in similar trace amounts (esp. Fula people).

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In 2015 my survey findings established for the first time (as far as I am aware) that autosomally speaking the African part of Cape Verdeans can be characterized as predominantly Upper Guinean (~75%) ” (Fonte Felipe 2018)

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My survey findings shown above are yet again confirming the overwhelmingly Upper Guinean roots for Cape Verdeans! Something which was already established by my first publication of Cape Verdean DNA results in 2015 (see this page). The so-called “Senegambian & Guinean” region serving as a primary signature region for pinpointing Upper Guinean lineage among all my Cape Verdean survey participants. Quite similar to the equivalent “Senegal” region on Ancestry. But more predictive when comparing with Ancestry’s 2013-2018 version. The group average for “Senegambian & Guinean” being 73.1% of their scaled African breakdown for 100 Cape Verdeans. As shown in the charts above. While on Ancestry the scaled group average of “Senegal” for 100 Cape Verdeans was 58.7% (see this chart).

But also so-called “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” scores were most likely describing an additional part of Upper Guinean DNA. As suggested by the labeling to be associated first of all with historically plausible lineage from Sierra Leone. In fact 23andme uses Temne reference samples (see this overview) and this ethnic group from northern Sierra Leone has significant historical and cultural/linguistic connections with Cape Verde (referred to as “Sape”, see this page). But most likely this region is also partially to be associated with DNA from Mali and Senegambia as shown in Table 6. See also this screenshot for the updated results of a person with 1 Bambara parent from Mali and 1 Mandenka parent from Guinea:

Although not a complete equivalent this “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” region is acting similar to the so-called “Mali” region on Ancestry for Cape Verdeans. Which is to say it describes an additional part of their generic Upper Guinean lineage. Combining both regions we might arrive at an approximation of Upper Guinean ancestry being picked up by 23andme. Leaving aside the “Broadly West African” and “Broadly Sub-Saharan” scores this rough measure of Upper Guinean DNA would be atleast 82% (73.1% + 8.9%). Which is again very comparable to my previous Ancestry findings in which I found a share of 76% Upper Guinean DNA when combining “Senegal” with “Mali”. Further reading:

The African breakdown for Cape Verdeans according to genetic estimates is overwhelmingly Upper Guinean therefore. But although the level of scaled “Senegambian & Guinean” for Cape Verdeans is indeed very prominent it is still not completely on par with what is being reported for Senegambians and Guineans (73.1% vs. 80-85%). And in fact regional scores suggesting lineage from other parts of Africa are being shown as well. The validity of this minor non-Upper Guinean part (2.2% “Nigerian” + 1.9% “Central & Southern East African”) is still to be established. But when comparing with actual Senegambian & Guinean results these minor deviations (highlighted in red in Table 6) do indeed stand out somewhat. The minimal Northeast African scores (almost always showing up as “Sudanese”) most likely referring to Sahelian West African DNA however. As it is also reported for Senegambians and Guineans in similar trace amounts (esp. Fula people).

Of course DNA testing and more particularly regional admixture analysis has several shortcomings. But already very valuable insights could be obtained during the 2013-2018 period. Even more so because subsequent updates on both 23andme as well as on Ancestry are showing that the ability to distinguish Upper Guinean DNA is steadily improving! I have not yet done extensive surveys for updated results. But after the recent 2020 upgrade the scaled average of “Senegambian & Guinean” for Cape Verdeans might very well go beyond 90% on 23andme! While on Ancestry after its most recent 2020 update the predictive accuracy of “Senegal” also has improved for Cape Verdeans. On average it might be around 75% right now to be combined again with almost 15% “Mali”. And therefore also on Ancestry the overall degree of Upper Guinean DNA might be around 90% for Cape Verdeans (within their scaled African breakdown).

Compare also with my previous Ancestry survey findings:

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Substructure within Cape Verde

Table 7 (click to enlarge) 

This overview is exploring any regional substructure within Cape Verde.  Actually hardly any major differentiation on display. However the relatively higher share of African admixture outside of Upper Guinea for Barlavento, could be indicative of something. Especially when combined with other ancestral clues. Even when overall this portion is of course quite minor: 3.1% “Nigerian” and 2.4% “Central & Southern East African”. 

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In the overview above I am exploring if there is any substructure within Cape Verde, based on island origins. Naturally I did not have complete knowledge about the family origins of my survey participants. The island origins of my survey participants are not based on a 4 grand parents criterium per se. But often this was indeed confirmed to me or also to be verified from their profile details on 23andme. The sample size for especially Santiago is of course rather minimal. However for the other mentioned islands the sample size might already be quite representative. Merely meant as an exploratory excercise therefore.

As already discussed Cape Verdeans are a relatively endogamous population. But island-specific differences may still exist. In particular when going by the continental breakdown, as shown in Table 2. See also the group averages for total African ancestry in Table 7 above. The highest degree of African ancestry to be found among my samples from Santiago (72.9%) and the lowest among my samples from Brava & Fogo (33.5%). The Barlavento samples being intermediate (51.4%).

Genetic substructure is basically referring to subgroups within greater populations. To be defined along geographical, social, cultural, or even “racial” lines. Despite commonalities various localized factors may still have caused differentiation between various subgroups within a given population. In particular pointing towards a distinctive mix of African regional origins. Showing overlap to be sure but still recognizable due to deviating proportions. With proper interpretation this can be very helpful in your quest to Trace African Roots!

When zooming into the African breakdown the results are however firstmost highlighting the relative homogeneity of Cape Verde’s African regional roots. Safe for some minor variation many aspects seem to be consistent across the islands! The main take-away arguably being the clear predominance of “Senegambian & Guinean” for each one of my survey participants. Regardless of actual island origins or total African admixture. Then again it might not be a coincidence that the scaled level of “Senegambian & Guinean” is somewhat more elevated among my survey participants from Santiago. While my survey participants from Barlavento show the highest occurence of regional scores indicative of diluted lineage from outside of Upper Guinea. In particular 3.1% “Nigerian” and 2.4% “Central & Southern East African”.

Obviously these findings are preliminary and possibly not to be generalized beyond my survey participants. Still in my previous Ancestry survey I also uncovered a similar pattern of increased level of regional scores suggestive of Lower Guinean and Central African lineage among my Barlavento samples. Caused by not only one but several outliers in fact. Follow-up research focusing on associated DNA matches as well as dedicated family tree research may clarify things in individual cases. While possibly also a locally specific historical context may apply for the Barlavento islands. In particular in regards to (slightly) deviating slave trade patterns when compared with Santiago, the main hub of slave trade with Upper Guinea.6 Perhaps occasionally involving contraband Northwest European traders?

I have actually already performed such follow-up research in 2018 to investigate the seemingly Lower Guinean or Central African scores for a survey group of 50 Cape Verdeans. Combining admixture analysis with DNA matches often leads to more insight as well as mutual corroboration! I speculated then that such scores (when truly genuine) might either be due to African captives outside of the expected Upper Guinea area being present (sporadically) in Cape Verde during the Slave Trade period. Or otherwise also caused by family histories involving back & forth migrations to and from Angola, Brazil, São Tomé & Principe and Mozambique. All fellow ex-Portuguese colonies. This latter scenario will usually be easier to investigate of course.

Continental admixture scores from outside Africa might actually also provide useful hints. In particular partial Brazilian lineage might be hinted at by trace amounts of Native American DNA. In fact in this 23andme survey the incidence of minimal Native American scores was rather consistent (73/100). Although rarely surpassing 1% (4/100) and the maximum score only being 1.1%. Quite trivial therefore but still noteworthy as Cape Verde is an African island group! Generally speaking trace admixture is of course to be taken with a grain of salt. However 23andme is generally known to be quite finetuned also when picking up on minimal amounts of distinctive admixture. I would therefore argue against complete dismissal in all cases because plentiful historical evidence can be found for ancestral connections between Cape Verde & Brazil. And to a lesser degree also between Cape Verde and other places in the Americas. Which might likewise involve the transferal of minor Native American admixture as well as African DNA from beyond Upper Guinea. See footnote seven for more details, incl. a full overview of my Native American survey findings.7

For more discussion:

Recent Ancestor Locations

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Table 8 (click to enlarge) 

This overview is showing how many times a particular Recent Ancestor Location (RAL) was reported by 23andme for my 100 Cape Verdean survey participants. In fact I did not always have access to this data. So I was only able to verify for 61 persons in my survey. Out of that subgroup everyone received “Cabo Verde” as RAL and usually also “Portugal”.

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“These regions will provide you with information about your more recent ancestry, giving you insight into where your ancestors likely lived during the last 200 years (Source: 23andme)

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I have also kept score of the Recent Ancestor Locations (RAL) being reported for my survey participants (see columns Y-AB in my online spreadsheet). At least for those people I was able to verify. As actually for 39 people I did not have access to this data. Also within the screenshots shown below these recent ancestral locations have been highlighted by myself. Potentially a very useful feature (based on DNA matching strength) but only to be taken as indicative. Due to a skewed reference database based on the self-reported origins of 23andme’s customers its predictions will sometimes not be perfectly in line with known family origins. For greater understanding it is advised to read this article on 23andme’s website:

I find it impressive that 23andme is able to accurately pinpoint “Cabo Verde” as recent ancestral location. Not only for all of my survey participants (61/100) for whom I could verify this. But actually also for people of partial Cape Verdean descent, going back 2 or even 3 generations at times (see very last section of screenshots). But further island specification seems too ambitious at this point and will often be misleading. Practically all my Cape Verdean survey participants were given Brava as primary island origin. Almost as a standard rule. Even when many people would not have any recent links to that island at all!

As I have noticed for other RAL’s as well (such as Azores/Portugal!) predictions on sub-national level tend to be over-ambitious. Often reflecting rather the self-reported origins of 23andme customers who tend to hail from certain overrepresented areas within a given country, due to chain migration. It being known that Brava origins are overrepresented among Cape Verdean Americans due to their whaling history. Similar to how Azorean origins are overrepresented among Portuguese Americans. As some midway solution my suggestion would be to skip specific island origins being mentioned for now. It will be more useful to first distinguish between the two main subgroups of Cape Verdean islands: Barlavento Sotavento. And only proceed with greater detail when 23andme’s customer database is sufficiently representative of all Cape Verdean island origins.

Keeping this minor flaw in mind I still find the RAL feature to be very informational. The high frequency of “Portugal” (51/61=84%) as RAL is also quite telling for example. I have not observed any reporting of other European countries as RAL for Cape Verdeans. Although of course this does not rule out any additional European family line existing in individual cases. Still given 23andme’s own definition this reporting of “Portugal” RAL’s are most likely indicative of relatively recent Portuguese ancestry from the 1800’s onwards. Naturally Cape Verdeans may also have Portuguese ancestry dating from earlier time periods. As reflected in actual regional admixture scores for “Spanish & Portuguese”. But that Portugal should be so detectable as RAL among my survey group is very interesting! Also in light of my previous Ancestry survey findings. The similar so-called genetic community tool on Ancestry also reporting Portugal for several Cape Verdeans, but less frequently so (16/100).8 For more discussion:

Correct interpretation of these RAL’s is essential, as always. Because sometimes the implied origins might actually be the other way around due to unexpected ancestral migrations or shared ancestry from other places. Dating back to early colonial times even. This might be especially relevant for the Brazilian RAL’s. Probably caused by shared Portuguese ancestors in many cases. Even when shared Brazilian or even shared Cape Verdean ancestry might very well be possible as well. Because of individual migrations going both ways, from Brazil into Cape Verde and also the other way around. To be verified by your own follow-up research. See also:

Guyanese RAL’s represent a rather special case. Because they might come as a surprise to many people who are not aware of the specific historical context. Generally speaking Cape Verdeans might share either Portuguese ancestry or direct Cape Verdean ancestors with Guyanese through contract labourers who arrived in Guyana during the mid-to-late 1800’s. They are known to have generally come from Madeira. But actually some Cape Verdeans came over to Guyana as contract labourers as well at that time! For more details:

This connection is usually quite diluted. I myself have several Guyanese DNA matches who told me they were already aware of distant Cape Verdean ancestors from 3 or 4 generations ago. Intriguingly most of my survey participants (12/14) who received Guyana as RAL have Barlavento origins like myself and are my close DNA cousins. So possibly this RAL reporting of Guyana is due to only 1 or a few shared ancestors from either Santo Antão, São Nicolau or São Vicente. See also screenshots further below of Guyanese 23andme results showing elevated “Senegambian & Guinean” and even “Cape Verde” as RAL! Or also this page featuring West Indian 23andme results.

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Recent Ancestral Locations for “Senegambian & Guinean” (click to enlarge) 

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The RAL’s for Morocco and Goa shown in Table 8 are also very fascinating and quite singular. Backed up by prior family tree knowledge! Incl. someone of partial Moroccan Jewish descent. Regrettably I have not yet seen any West African RAL’s appearing for Cape Verdeans. For example Senegal, Gambia or Guinea. However such RAL’s are already available under “Senegambian & Guinean”, as shown above. Despite a few shortcomings I believe this RAL feature (again based on DNA matching strength!) holds great potential for further specification of mainland African lineage in future updates. Although the implied timeframe has to be expanded from the current 200 years to atleast the 1700’s and preferably even beyond. As afterall the 1500’s-1600’s will also be a relevant time period when wanting to Trace Upper Guinean Roots for many Cape Verdeans!

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3) Cape Verdean Results

As far as I know and was able to verify all of these screenshots below are from persons with 4 grandparents born in Cape Verdean. Unless mentioned otherwise. Meant to illustrate the individual variation among Cape Verdeans in the first place. But given that my sample size (n=100) is already rather robust these results will usually also be quite representative and often even showing distinct patterns for their particular island origins.

I will not post all 100 results as that might be too much to scroll through 😉 Instead I have picked a selection which I believe is most illustrative of the main patterns as well as showcasing some of the outliers. Consult my spreadsheet for a complete overview. The results have been arranged from highest degree of African admixture to lowest. But I am starting first with a small grouping based on island origins within Cape Verde, going from north to south. I mention such island origins whenever such details were available to me. But naturally I did not have perfect information about everyone’s complete family tree. So the headings on top of the screenshots are only meant as an approximation of recent family origins! In case you are not familiar with the geography of Cape Verde, see this map:

I like to thank again all the persons who kindly agreed to share their results with me. In particular I want to give a shout-out to my primo Milton! His tremendous help has been essential for my efforts to collect a robust sample group of 100 Cape Verdean 23andme results! Muito obrigado! Follow the link below to reach the biggest online community of Cape Verdean Genealogy & DNA enthusiasts!

CABO VERDE (Santo Antão)

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2018 version.  The primary “Senegambian & Guinean” score is a common theme for all my Cape Verdean survey participants. To be combined with a primary “Spanish & Portuguese” score as well. Both regions representing the main ancestral components for Cape Verdeans. The trace regions will also be intriguing to many people. But these are not always worthwhile when seeking to validate them. The so-called “Sudanese” score is most likely referring to Sahelian West African DNA. And therefore simply part of the Upper Guinean heritage of Cape Verdeans. The minimal but still distinctive South Asian score might however turn out to be genuine!

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CABO VERDE (São Nicolau)

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2018 version. Results from São Nicolau and Santo Antão are often quite similar and have been grouped together under Barlavento in my survey. Although minor the “Angolan & Congolese” score is one of the highest in my survey. Possibly indicative of diluted Central African lineage. Either directly or by detour, via ancestors from either Brazil or São Tomé & Principe.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago)

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2018 version. Although persons from Santiago will often show higher amounts of African admixture their scaled African breakdown will still be practically the same as for other Cape Verdeans. So-called “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is an additional part of Upper Guinean DNA for Cape Verdeans. Even when it gets as high as shown in this breakdown. Although Portugal is not mentioned as RAL it is apparent that just like for other Cape Verdeans this person’s European admixture is mostly Portuguese. Possibly to be traced back further in time than what is average for other Cape Verdeans.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version. Many Cape Verdeans will receive Azores as recent ancestral location within Portugal. This could be true in some cases. However not per se so as Azorean-Americans are heavily overrepresented within 23andme’s reference database. Such an outcome therefore does not rule out a Portuguese connection hailing from other places! Also noteworthy the above average North African score. Something which from my observation is most frequently occurring for people from Fogo. Possibly to be combined with the 1.2% “Ashkenazi Jewish” score as a proxy of actual Sephardi Jewish lineage.

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CABO VERDE (Brava)

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2018 version. Persons from Brava often tend to have lower African admixture than other Cape Verdeans. However their scaled African breakdown is still consistent with other Cape Verdeans as well. Featuring a clearly predominant “Senegambian & Guinean” score on their otherwise minor African side.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago)

2019 & 2020 version.  Before and after results for the same person. Senegambian & Guinean” is boosted with more than 10% after the 2020 update! When calculating the relative proportion of this signature region for Cape Verdeans it is 95% (=73.6/76.8) of the total African breakdown! Which comes very close to being fully Upper Guinean indeed!  A rise in “North African” of around 2% as well.  Notice also how especially “Broadly West African” has declined. But also “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” has now completely disappeared. This was practically always a minor but still secondary African region for Cape Verdeans in the 2018/2019 version. And Cape Verdeans are in fact likely to have genuine Sierra Leonean ancestry. Especially Temne lineage from northern Sierra Leone. See also this link. Also noteworthy btw that this result shows the highest African amount for my survey participants with confirmed origins from Santiago. However two other results showed even higher scores of African admixture (79.4% & 81.6%). I was not able to verify their island origins but possibly these could also be persons from Santiago.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago & Santo Antão?)

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2019 version. The update in 2019 resulted in an improvement of  23andme’s ability to detect North African admixture. Because of the addition of North African reference samples. After the 2020 update such scores tend to increase even more so.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago & São Vicente)

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2019 version. Not included in my survey but easily the highest “Sudanese” score I have seen reported for Cape Verdeans. Although quite distinctive it is most likely referring to Sahelian West African DNA. Also to be found among Fula people or Tuareg (see this screenshot). And therefore simply part of the Upper Guinean heritage of Cape Verdeans. After the 2020 update this score was greatly diminished btw (see this screenshot).

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão)

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2018 & 2020 version. Again showing the impact of the latest 2020 update. Pretty much the same outcome. Also for this person “Senegambian & Guinean” is increasing with almost 10%. The scaled score now being over 90%  (=62.5/68.2) of the total African breakdown!  Once again confirming the overwhelmingly Upper Guinean roots of Cape Verdeans. Notice also how the European breakdown is being homogenized to almost exclusively reflect Portuguese ancestry. For many Cape Verdeans this would be correct although actually it is known that in some cases also other types of European ancestry could be significant according to paper trail.  Also noteworthy btw that this result shows the highest African amount for my survey participants from Santo Antão. Highlighting the wider range of African admixture to be found on all islands.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago)

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2018 version. My sample size for Santiago, the most populous island of Cape Verde, is rather minimal (n=5). This is because people from Santiago have traditionally not migrated to the USA in great numbers. Luckily 23andme is now also getting more popular in Portugal where more people from Santiago reside. Actually several survey participants for whom I did not get confirmation about their specific island origins are most likely also from Santiago. I am guessing my survey might include atleast 10 results from Santiago therefore and a few more with partial origins from Santiago. Still underrepresented but already a big improvement over my 2018 Ancestry survey!

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CABO VERDE (Santiago, Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau)

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2018 version.Very useful to compare these results with the ones directly above. Because they are both showing the exact same amount of African admixture. Also otherwise greatly similar but still some subtle differentiation. Especially in the total amount of “Senegambian & Guinean” (57.1% vs. 46.1%). Possibly because this person has additional origins from Barlavento islands. Also a distinctive South Asian score which actually increased somewhat (1.2%) after the 2020 update.  In my 2018 survey I found one South Asian match (10 cM) practically confirming this diluted lineage for this person!

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CABO VERDE (Santiago)

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2018 version. Minor but still quite distinctive “North African” score. Also given that his person is of predominant African descent. Possibly to be combined with his 0.9% “Ashkenazi Jewish” score as a proxy for actual Sephardi Jewish lineage. Although actually it could also have been inherited by way of Fula ancestors. Or through Portuguese ancestors, incorporating Moorish lineage or prehistorical North African DNA from ancient times.

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CABO VERDE (São Nicolau & São Vicente/Santo Antão?)

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2018 version.  Minor but still distinctive and above average scores indicating Lower Guinean & Central African DNA. Incl. one of the highest “Nigerian” scores in my survey. Such scores were most frequently seen among my survey participants from the Barlavento islands. Suggestive of a subtle degree of substructure within Cape Verde (see table 7).

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CABO VERDE (Santiago & Santo Antão)

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2018 version.  Distinctive 9% “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” score. One of the highest in my survey group. As mentioned earlier possibly to be associated with the underlying Temne samples being used by 23andme. After the 2020 update this regional score has however been almost fully absorbed by “Senegambian & Guinean”. Only 0.5% remaining. Underlining how this region was indeed a proxy of Upper Guinean DNA for Cape Verdeans.

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CABO VERDE (Brava & Santo Antão)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão & São Vicente)

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2018 version. Interesting mentioning of Brazil as Recent Ancestor Location. This happened for atleast 8 persons in my survey. Almost always for people from Barlavento islands (7/8), such as in this case. Probably caused by shared Portuguese ancestors in many cases. Even when shared Brazilian or even shared Cape Verdean ancestry might very well be possible as well. Because of individual migrations going both ways, from Brazil into Cape Verde and also the other way around. To be verified by your own follow-up research. See also:
Das Relações Históricas Cabo Verde/Brasil (D. Perreira, 2011)

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CABO VERDE (Boavista, Santiago, Santo Antão)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version. I received confirmation of all 4 grandparents being from Fogo for this person. And his breakdown does indeed look in line with other Fogo results. First of al an above average scaled score of “Senegambian & Guinean” of around 82% (=46.9/56.8). Indicative of Upper Guinean lineage for Fogo as well as Santiago being somewhat more concentrated than in Barlavento. Also the second-highest “North African” score within my survey (2018 version). Such scores usually being above average as well for persons from Fogo. Interestingly in this case not combined with any seemingly Jewish admixture though.

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CABO VERDE (Brava & São Vicente)

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2018 versionHighest “Congolese” score in my survey (later on renamed into “Angolan & Congolese”). When combined with other regional scores indicating Central/Southeast African lineage around 13% of this person’s African breakdown could be labeled as Central African DNA! Which is quite exceptional for a Cape Verdean without any known family origins from elsewhere. At least not for the last 2 or generations. Most likely going back further she does have African ancestry from outside of Upper Guinea. Either directly or by detour via either Brazil or São Tomé & Principe. See also this screenshot of her 2020 updated results which feature an even higher scaled proportion of Central African DNA: 16% (=8.7/54.5)! Intriguingly in the old Countries of Ancestry tool of 23andme this person had a match from Cameroon. Which is again quite extraordinary but finding more African DNA matches could be very clarifying.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão & São Vicente)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (?)

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2020 version. Recently updated results as can be clearly seen from the minimal “Broadly” scores as well as the strongly homogenized African and European breakdowns. Fairly standard otherwise. Except that Madeira is reported as RAL. The first time I have seen that for a Cape Verdean because almost always Portugal is being specified by Azores instead. This is most likely simply because Azorean-Americans happen to be overrepresented within 23andme’s customer database. I am pretty sure there are plenty of other Cape Verdeans who might also have substantial connections with Madeira. Even when it is not showing up as RAL.

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CABO VERDE (São Nicolau)

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2018 version. I was not able to keep track of the European breakdown during this survey. However these results show a rather high degree of Northwest European scores. Combined somewhat over 10%. Even when Portuguese lineage is still primary. Possibly to be associated with known intermarriage with Dutch/French/British sailors during the 1600’s/1700’s. Something I actually also already established during my earliest 23andme survey from before the 2018 update (see this overview). After the most recent 2020 update this person’s European breakdown has however been almost totally homogenized into “Spanish & Portuguese”.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo & Santiago)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão?)

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2018 version.Very useful to compare these results with the ones directly above. Because they are both showing the exact same amount of African admixture. Also otherwise greatly similar but still some subtle differentiation. Especially in the somewhat higher total amount of “Senegambian & Guinean” and also “North African” for the person from Fogo. And the minor but still distinctive “Nigerian” score for this person. As well as the RAL’s from both Guyana and Brazil. Probably because this person has origins from Barlavento islands instead of Sotavento.

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CABO VERDE (São Vicente)

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2019 version. Recent Ancestor Location within Morocco! Quite singular as I have only seen this twice for Cape Verdeans. And also 1 time for a Puerto Rican.  Possibly to be associated with diluted Moroccan Jewish lineage. Historically very plausible for Cape Verde (see this website)! Although this person might not be aware of it as this connection seems to date from atleast 4  generations ago. Judging from the amount of combined MENA admixture. This amount did increase to 7.2% after the 2020 update!

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CABO VERDE (Boavista, Santo Antão, São Vicente)

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2018 version. Curious trace amount of  Southeast Asian admixture. Exceptional in my survey and obviously quite minimal. But given what I have seen for other Afro-descendants I suppose it could still be genuine. But naturally to be corroborated by additional clues.  All sorts of ancestral scenario’s being possible due to wideranging Portuguese colonial connections.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão)

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2018 version. Several distinctive aspects in this breakdown which are otherwise still quite typical for especially other results from Santo Antão within my survey. First of all the minor but still clearly detectable South Asian admixture. After the 2020 update this amount increased to 1.9% even! Also above average Central African DNA and RAL’s from both Guyana and Brazil.

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CABO VERDE (Barlavento?)

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2018 version. Not included in my survey but featuring the highest “Nigerian” score I have seen for Cape Verdeans. Also maintained after the 2020 update. I have no confirmation about her island origins. Beyond that all 4 grandparents are Cape Verde-born. However most likely she has atleast partial Barlavento island origins, as she is a DNA cousin of mine. Also distinctive Native American score btw.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Barlavento?)

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2018 version. Not included in my survey but featuring the highest Native American score I have seen for Cape Verdeans. Also maintained at 1% after the 2020 update. I have no confirmation about his island origins. Beyond that all 4 grandparents are indeed Cape Verde-born. However most likely he has atleast partial Barlavento island origins, as he is a DNA cousin of mine. Generally speaking I suspect some of the minimal Native American scores reported for my survey participants might be “noise”. But in this case I think the odds of it being genuine are quite high. Although by no means conclusive certainly also interesting to see a RAL from Brazil!  See also footnote 7 for more discussion.

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CABO VERDE (Boavista, Santo Antão, São Nicolau, São Vicente)

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2019 version. Quite diverse island origins already within the last 2 generations! Also noteworthy that this person has a confirmed Moroccan Jewish 2nd great-grandparent (1/16). Which corresponds quite well with the amount of  combined MENA admixture. The country labeling “Egypt” obviously not to be taken as gospel! But rather some generic West Asian component also found among Moroccan Jews. Regrettably no Morrocan RAL though for this person.

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CABO VERDE (Brava & Santo Antão)

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2018 version. Highest Native American score within my survey. Generally speaking I suspect some of the minimal Native American scores reported for my survey participants might be “noise”. But in this case I think the odds of it being genuine are quite high.  See also footnote 7 for more discussion.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão & São Nicolau)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão & São Vicente)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão & São Vicente)

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2020 version. South Asian scores were usually minimal but also surprisingly consistent for especially my survey participants from Santo Antão or with partial origins from that island. At times (7/100) also exceeding more than 1%. This highest score of 7.8% beyond a doubt being genuine and also specified by Goa as recent ancestor location in India! This maximum score of “South Asian” admixture belongs to a known cousin of mine! Such lineage already being known from family lore. Intriguingly implying that also the more diluted scores might actually be genuine. See this screenshot for the original 2018 version of these results.

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CABO VERDE (?)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Brava and/or Fogo?)

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2020 version. Recently updated results as can be seen from the strongly homogenized African & European breakdowns. Elevated amount of North African admixture. Especially when compared with what was being reported during the 2018 version. However such scores might actually become more common. Especially for people from Fogo I imagine.

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CABO VERDE (Sal, Santiago, Santo Antão)

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2018 version. Relatively high Northwest European score. Although I was not able to keep track of the European breakdown during this survey. Such 10%+ scores were quite rare. After the 2020 update the European breakdown for this person was however completely homogenized into “Spanish & Portuguese”.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão)

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2018 version. One of the highest South Asian scores in my survey. No longer merely a trace amount  (<1%) but already quite solid. In fact after the 2020 update this person’s South Asian score increased to 4.1%! See also this screenshot. Given the addition of South Asian reference samples this update most likely being more accurate. But the 2018 version was also already to pick up on this distinctive component.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version. One of the highest scaled “Senegambian & Guinean” scores in my survey. Representing a share of 85% (=36.6/43) of this person’s African breakdown. Other persons of Fogo also tend to score above average scaled scores for “Senegambian & Guinean. Along with my survey participants from Santiago. Both islands having the earliest and longest slave trade connections. Barlavento islands being settled later on with a much reduced need of slave labour from early on. Founding effects and/or return migrations from other Portuguese colonies possibly explaining the slight degree of substructure I have uncovered in my survey (see table 7). Also noteworthy that after the 2020 update this person’s North African score increased from 3% to 8.1%! See this screenshot.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão & São Nicolau)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santo Antão)

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2018 version. Another minor yet distinctive South Asian score for one of my survey participants from Santo Antão.  Seven persons out of 100 having scores greater than 1%. And from those 6 had (partial) Santo Antão island origins.

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CABO VERDE (?)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Brava & Fogo)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Brava & São Vicente)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (São Nicolau & São Vicente)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Brava & Fogo)

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2018 version. Distinctive Native American score. Generally speaking I suspect some of the minimal Native American scores reported for my survey participants might be “noise”. But in this case I think the odds of it being genuine are probably higher. Only 4 persons in my survey obtaining Native American scores of 1%.  See also footnote 7 for more discussion.

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CABO VERDE (Brava and/or Fogo?)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago & Santo Antão)

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2018 version. Highest North African score in my survey. Specified even by a Moroccan RAL! In fact this person has 2 confirmed Moroccan Jewish great grandparents. Not completely covered by the exact amount of corresponding admixture however.  Notice especially how “Ashkenazi Jewish” is not equipped to pinpoint Sephardi lineage! Although actually the 1.6% amount is still distinctive and indicative. After the 2020 update this person’s West Asian & North African admixture increased to over 20% when combined with also minor amounts of “Unassigned” and “Ashkenazi” and possibly even “Italian” much more so in line with an expected 1/4 genetic contribution. See also this screenshot.

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CABO VERDE (& distant Brazilian?)

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2018 version. I do not have any confirmation about this person’s complete family origins. Which is why I did not include it in my survey. However the mentioning of Brazil as RAL under 2.3% Native American is quite astonishing! The amount of Native American would also be very extraordinary. If indeed this person is fully Cape Verdean, at least going back 2 generations. In all other aspects this breakdown does look quite typically Cape Verdean, incl. also the African breakdown. However given the Brazilian RAL I suppose it might be quite likely this person either has a Brazilian grandparent or great-grandparent.

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CABO VERDE (Brava and/or Fogo)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo?)

2020 version. Recently updated results. As shown in other screenshots above this 2020 update usually tends to strongly homogenize the African as well as European breakdown. However very intriguingly in this case most likely French lineage is clearly being pinpointed! Not only the 14.4% “French & German” score being singular but also the entire Northwest European component (20.4%). Judging from his surname (Montrond) this person is part of a well-known family in Fogo. Descended from a Frenchman who settled there in the late 1800’s and had numerous offspring. Would have been even more impressive if 23andme had mentioned a French RAL. But this outcome is already highly informational. Compare also with this person’s previous results from 2018.

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CABO VERDE (Brava and/or Fogo?)

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2018 version. 

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CABO VERDE (Fogo & São Vicente)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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 2018 version.  Highest scaled “Senegambian & Guinean” score in my survey. Representing a share of 87% (=24.7/28.4) of this person’s African breakdown. Despite having a relatively minor amount of African ancestry the Upper Guinean predominance within the African breakdown remains consistent for all Cape Verdeans. Regardless of actual African amount. But when zooming into more subtle differentiation this outcome, in line with other persons from Fogo and Santiago, is also illustrating the slight degree of substructure I have uncovered in my survey (see table 7).

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Brava, Fogo, Santo Antão)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Brava)

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2018 version.

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CABO VERDE (Fogo)

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2018 version.  Generally speaking the lowest amounts of African admixture in my survey were  for people from Brava and Fogo. In fact three persons in my survey had African admixture below 20% (see Table 3). With a minimum of 5% African for a person from Brava with 4 confirmed Cape Verder-born grandparents. Still the scaled African breakdown remains consistent with predominant “Senegambian & Guinean” scores. Similar to what is also reported for people from Santiago and all other Cape Verdeans.

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CABO VERDE (several islands incl. Santo Antão)

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2018 version. Second-highest South Asian score in my survey. No longer merely a trace amount  (<1%) but already quite solid.  After the 2020 update it increased to 4.1% even.  As this is one my closest DNA cousins (108 cM shared DNA) I greatly suspect my own more diluted South Asian trace admixture may also be genuine therefore.

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CABO VERDE (Santiago)

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Very interesting results for a person from Santiago (Praia). Featuring either the 2019 or 2020 version. Mostly in line with my own survey findings. Including a predominant “Senegambian & Guinean” score of 51.4% out of a total African score of 77.3%. So proportionally speaking this represents a share of 66% of the African breakdown. Which is clearly a majority of her African lineage. Although on the lower end within my survey (see Table 1). Sadly she seems to be misinformed about how African roots for Cape Verdeans are overwhelmingy Upper Guinean. As shown convincingly throughout this page. For more historical context see my other website:

Even when mistaken about being “mostly Nigerian”, intriguingly she does happen to also have an an exceptionally high score of 7.1% “Congolese & Southern East African”. Which is relatively speaking almost 10% of her African DNA (7.1/77.3). Quite astounding. Although within my own survey there was one person with an even higher relative share of Central African DNA (13%, see this screenshot). As I discussed for that person this portion of her African ancestry is either directly from Central Africa/Angola or inherited by detour via either Brazil or São Tomé & Principe.

That last scenario (São Tomé & Principe) probably being most likely as many people of Santiago as well as other Cape Verdeans were forced to work under very harsh circumstances as so-called contract labourers on that island in the early 1900’s. Many remaining there (see this page). Their continued longing for their motherland has been made world famous by the song “Sodad” by Cesaria Evora (see this video clip). But eventually many also returned to Cape Verde, possibly also with (mixed) children. Dedicated family tree research may very well clarify this surprising element within her results. For more background:

___________________________________________________________________________

4) Partially Cape Verdean Results

I have always believed when it comes to regional admixture the proof of the pudding is when people who are “100%” from one particular ethnic background take the test. Or, also people of recently mixed but still known background! See how well their ancestry is being predicted or described and that already tells you a lot what you can expect for yourself 😉 As far as I know and was able to verify all of these screenshots below are from persons with atleast one confirmed Cape Verdean parent, 1 Cape Verdean grandparent or 1 distant Cape Verdean ancestor combined with other types of lineage.

I find that especially in these mixed cases 23andme’s update really shows it added value. As you will notice that in each and every case “Senegambian & Guinean” is again consistently appearing as signature region. Pinpointing the usually diluted but still significant Upper Guinean lineage for these people. Also the Recent Ancestor Location (RAL) feature is usually spot on (atleast on a national level). Notice how “Cape Verde” is appearing for almost everybody. But usually also their non-Cape Verdean side is correctly assigned with expected RAL’s.

The first selection of screenshots will be of people with predominant European ancestry. Because they have no additional source of African origins the preponderance of “Senegambian & Guinean” in their minor African breakdown is very apparent. The second selection of screenshots will feature the results of people with multiple African roots because their Cape Verdean parent/grand parent intermarried with either people from fellow ex-Portuguese colonies or other parts of the Afro-Diaspora, incl. African Americans. The ability of 23andme to still quite reliably showcase distinctive “Senegambian & Guinean” scores within an otherwise diversified African breakdown is perhaps even more impressive!

I believe such outcomes can be seen as encouraging for other Afro-desendants from other parts of the Afro-Diaspora in their quest to Trace African Roots. Although naturally their multi-generationally mixed African origins are usually much more complex and probably also more tricky to disentangle in DNA testing. This selection is quite extensive and wide ranging. Almost all the results belonging to DNA cousins of mine. But obviously I am not implying that such accuracy is obtained in all cases! I have tried to outline several limitations of 23andme’s analysis already in this blog post and I will continue to do so in future blog posts.

Special dedication to my nephew Max!

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 CABO VERDE (1/2, Santo Antão/São Vicente) & NEDERLAND (1/2)

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2019 & 2020 version. These are my own results! Before and after the 2020 update (see this screenshot for my results prior to the 2018 update). My African breakdown is showing even more “Senegambian & Guinean”, which is line with fully Cape Verdeans whose African breakdown will also be much more homogenized after the 2020 update. In accordance with near exclusive Upper Guinean origins. In my case however I do still also show some residual “Nigerian”. Not sure if it’s real or some artefact.  But it is in line with many other Barlavento results I have surveyed. “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” has practically disappeared. Which will also happen for most other Cape Verdeans I imagine. This was practically always a minor but still secondary African region for Cape Verdeans in the 2018/2019 version. And Cape Verdeans are in fact likely to have genuine Sierra Leonean ancestry. Especially Temne lineage from northern Sierra Leone. My RAL is correctly showing Cape Verde. But like for many other Cape Verdeans the specification of Brava is wrong.  As I do not have any recent family origins from that island. My Dutch half is now much better captured by “French & German”.  And the RALs are also correct. However the amount is overstating things a bit because my “Northwest European” is no longer at around 50%. With this update instead my “Southern European/Portuguese” % is being decreased. I have a hunch some of it is now being read as “North African”. This category has been on the increase for fully Cape Verdeans as well. But I think in my case it might have gone a bit overtop because of my more mixed background. I do have a few North African DNA matches though to back up this part of my DNA. Looking into my trace amount of “South Asian” admixture I have reason to believe it could be genuine. As it is showing up much more prominently for other close relatives of mine. Also despite variation it has been appearing consistently with each update.

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 CABO VERDE (1/2) & FRANCE (1/2, Bretagne)

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2020 version. The African breakdown is quite similar to my own results. The  European breakdown is also around 50% Northwest European. Almost completely consisting of “British & Irish” . Which might be confusing at first sight. But actually given the Celtic origins of  the French Bretons this makes perfect sense! Illustrating yet again how the labeling of ancestral categories is not to be taken as gospel. But still with additional reasoning it is also certainly not totally random either!

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 CABO VERDE (1/2) & SWEDEN (1/2)

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2020 version. African breakdown is consistent with my own and other people of Cape Verdean descent. Notice also how 23andme is able to quite accurately make the  distinction between Scandinavian and Southern European DNA.

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 CABO VERDE (1/2) & SWITZERLAND (1/2?)

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2020 version. Again similar to my own updated results.  Practically only “Senegambian & Guinean” is remaining in the African breakdown. Also notice almost exactly 50% Northwest European, as expected. As well as the Portuguese RAL.

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 CABO VERDE (1/2) & LEBANON (1/2)

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2020 version. African breakdown is in line with previous ones. Notice also how 23andme is accurately differentiating between West Asian and South European DNA.

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 CABO VERDE (1/2 or 1/4?) & PORTUGAL (1/2 or 3/4?)

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2020 version. I have no certainty if this person is either 1/2  or 1/4 Cape Verdean. Possibly the connection might also be even more distant! Either way an astonishing detection of  diluted Cape Verdean lineage! Even when total African is barely 2%. It is still described as chiefly “Senegambian & Guinean”. And more amazingly also specified with a RAL in Cape Verde. Not even pinpointing the island of Brava but more specifically Ribeira Brava, which is a town on the island of São Nicolau. I have no idea if this would be correct though. Another amazing aspect of this result being the RAL in Morocco. Possibly due to partial Moroccan Jewish lineage.

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & PORTUGAL/ITALY (3/4)

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2020 version. I do not know the complete family details for this person, beyond that this person has 1 Cape Verdean grandparent.  Either way again amazing specification of  Cape Verdean lineage. Also useful to see how 23andme is able to separate Italian from Portuguese DNA. In previous versions and also with other DNA testing companies this proved to be rather tricky. Leading to confusion among some Cape Verdeans about their mostly Portuguese lineage.

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & BERMUDA ( 3/4, mostly Portuguese)

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2020 version. This person is from Bermuda with mostly Portuguese ancestry from previous generations. But also including 1 known Cape Verdean grandparent. Potentially very revealing results had this person not known in advance of course!

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CABO VERDE (1/4 or 1/8?) & BERMUDA (1/2) & SOMALIA (1/2)

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2020 version.  Another result reflecting the Bermuda-Cape Verde connection. Because this person has an Afro-Bermudian parent the African breakdown is quite varied actually! Notice also how his half Somali side is perfectly captured by 23andme. However also the minor “Senegambian & Guinean” remains very telling. Along with the RAL’s of course. Read this entry on Wikipedia for more details on Cape Verdean presence in Bermuda.

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & PORTUGAL/FRANCE (3/4)

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2020 version. This person most likely has one parent who is half French and half Portuguese. And one parent who is half Cape Verdean and half Portuguese. Intriguingly the RAL is mentioning São Vicente, instead of the standard Brava. Not sure why, but I have sofar only seen RAL’s featuring other islands for persons with partial Cape Verdean descent.

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & EURO-AMERICAN ( 3/4)

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2020 version. I do not have all details. But most likely this person is from New England where most Cape Verdean-Americans have been residing for several generations already. At times also intermarrying with both local Portuguese as well as Anglo- or Irish-Americans. Even if this person had not been aware, the African breakdown is unmistakingly indicating partial Cape Verdean descent.

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CABO VERDE (1/4) & EURO-AMERICAN ( 3/4)

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2020 version.  Quite similar to previous result. But this time also picking up on additional German ancestry. Very satisfying that with all this European specificity his minor but still significant Cape Verdean side is also properly taken into account.

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 CABO VERDE (1/8) & UNITED KINGDOM (7/8)

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2020 version. Very special results. As this person has performed very extensive family tree research. And therefore was already aware of 1 Cape Verdean great-grandparent who arrived in Wales as a sailor. Such connections apparently already occurring in the early 1800’s!  See also this BBC article.

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 CABO VERDE (1/4 or 1/8?) & NEW ZEALAND (3/4 or 7/8?)

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2020 version. Not sure about the exact details of this person’s background. Most likely also including Maori and Chinese lineage. He was however already aware of distant Cape Verdean ancestry. And even when truly minimal his African breakdown is undeniably tied to a Cape Verdean connection. In fact due to Cape Verdeans whaling sailors from the 1800’s and early 1900’s the genetic inheritance of Cape Verdeans across the Pacific could be quite extensive. On Ancestry I myself have several DNA cousins from not only Hawaii but also Tonga by way of shared Cape Verdean ancestry!

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 CABO VERDE (1/8, Brava) & PORTUGAL (7/8, Madeira)

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2020 version. Very illustrative! Highlighting once again that even when strongly diluted Cape Verdean lineage is still detectable due to “Senegambian & Guinean”! Even when total African admixture is less than 2%! Btw also noteworthy that Ronaldo the football player has a similar background of  Madeiran ancestry with distant Cape Verdean lineage! See: “Cristiano Ronaldo tem ‘costela’ cabo-verdiana“.

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 CABO VERDE (3/4?) & SÃO TOMÉ & PRINCIPE (1/4?)

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2020 update. This person’s parents are both from Cape Verde. But her father was born in São Tomé. And quite likely one of his parents was also originally from that island where many Cape Verdeans ended up as contract labourers during the early 1900’s (see this article). But in fact also many Angolans were brought over to São Tomé. Very useful  to see how 23andme is making a clear distinction between Upper Guinean and Central African DNA. As indicated by “Senegambian & Guinean” and “Angolan & Congolese” resp.  See also this screenshot of her previous results from 2018 showing how the predictive accuracy of “Angolan & Congolese” has increased after the 2020 update.

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CABO VERDE (1/2?) & ANGOLA (1/2?)

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2020 version. I do not have full details on this person’s exact family background. Most likely his Angolan side is mestiço (mixed-race). While on his Cape Verdean side also a quite recent Moroccan Jewish connection seems to be present. Confirmed even with a Moroccan RAL! Either way again very useful detection of both “Senegambian & Guinean” and “Angolan & Congolese”.

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CABO VERDE (1/4?) & ANGOLA (3/4?)

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2020 version. Another Angolan-Cape Verdean mix. Possibly involving partial Portuguese lineage already on the Angolan side (mestiço). Either way the contrast of Central African and Upper Guinean DNA is coming through very clearly. Truly useful to know 23andme is able to make this distinction quite reliably!

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & BRAZIL (3/4)

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2020 version. These are the recently updated results for a person with 3 grandparents from Rio de Janeiro and 1 grand parent from Cape Verde. In fact from the same island as my own family: Santo Antão! This person’s Cape Verdean lineage has been detected very well by 23andme. In the first place again the elevated “Senegambian & Guinean” score which is uncommon to attain for Brazilians otherwise. But also the recent ancestral location is pinpointing Cape Verde! Strangely enough no additional locations even for Brazil. Looking into the remaining part of his African breakdown we can see an astonishingly high “Angolan & Congolese”  score. Very much in line with Rio’s known African origins. The 2020 version of 23andme probably resulting in improved detection of Central African DNA.  In the 2018/2019 version this person scored 37% “Angolan & Congolese” as well as actually 7.9% “Southern East African”. Which now seems to have been totally homogenized, see also this screenshot. See also this page for Brazilian 23andme results.

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & GUYANA (3/4)

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2020 version. Highly fascinating results! The Cape Verde-Guyana connection might come as a surprise to many people. But it is actually quite similar to the better known history of Madeiran contract labourers. As I already discussed previously many of my Cape Verdean survey participants (esp. from Barlavento) received Guyana as RAL (see this overview). Even when a shared Portuguese ancestor might be possible, actually in many cases it will be a shared Cape Verdean ancestor instead! This person already being aware of 1 Cape Verdean grandparent.

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 CABO VERDE (1/8) &  GUYANA (7/8)

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2020 version. This person was already aware of a Cape Verdean-born great-grandparent. And this is also clearly confirmed by one of her recent ancestral location. Even specifying São Vicente which is the island my own mother was born! Otherwise the African breakdown is however predominantly consisting of “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean”.  In line with documented African roots for Guyana. Very convincingly even with 40%! Even when diluted “Senegambian & Guinean” is also still being shown with a distinctive amount. For more screenshots of my distant Guyanese DNA cousins see this page featuring West Indian 23andme results.

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 CABO VERDE (1/2) & AFRICAN AMERICAN (1/2)

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2020 version. Very insightful results. Highlighting how African American and Cape Verdean breakdowns can quite easily be distinguished from each other. Even when showing the exact amount of African admixture. Because as my survey has demonstrated Cape Verdeans will never show “Nigerian” in first place within their African breakdown. While a “Senegambian & Guinean” score of nearly 30% will be highly atypical among African Americans. Or even practically unattainable. In my survey of 200 African American 23andme results (see this page) the maximum score for this region was 20.4%. With scores higher than 15% already being uncommon.  Notice also the elevated level of “Spanish & Portuguese” betraying this person’s Cape Verdean side. While the minor but still clearly detectable Southeast Asian admxiture is quite characteristic for African Americans.

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CABO VERDE (1/2) & AFRICAN AMERICAN (1/2)

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2020 version. Comparable to previous breakdown. Even when this time the “Senegambian & Guinean” is somewhat less conspicuous. But for African Americans 15.3% is still quite a elevated level of Upper Guinean DNA reinforced by Cape Verdean descent. Of course African Americans do have their own Upper Guinean lineage as well. Also partially expressed by “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” which is usually the secondary African region for African Americans.  Perhaps in this case this Upper Guinean component carried over from the African American parent was less than for the previous person. The “Spanish & Portuguese” scores being more similar.

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CABO VERDE (1/8) & AFRICAN AMERICAN (7/8)

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2020 version. This person has atleast one confirmed Cape Verdean-born great-grandparent. Quite astonishing testament of how intermarriage between African Americans and Cape Verdean-Americans may sometimes go back pretty far. Especially in the New England area.  See also this interesting video of an African American with a Cape Verdean ancestor from the early 1800’s. The overall results look mostly in line with what is to be expected for a regular African American. However aside from the Cape Verdean RAL (in Santo Antão!) also the still somewhat elevated “Senegambian & Guinean” as well as the “Spanish & Portuguese” scores do clearly indicate his partial Cape Verde connection!

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 CABO VERDE (1/4) & AFRICAN AMERICAN (3/4)

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Notes

1) One of my main survey outcomes has been the predominance of “Senegambian & Guinean” scores within the African breakdown of Cape Verdeans. Something which I find very encouraging as it demonstrates that despite shortcomings these 23andme results are not totally random at all!  As I always say instead of being preoccupied with finding imperfections it is wiser to adopt a “glass is half full” mentality. Focusing on anything that is worthwhile. Which is quite a lot actually on 23andme.

Because by way of “Senegambian & Guinean” 23andme seems to be able to quite accurately distinguish Upper Guinean lineage from other types of African macroregional lineage. In the first place making the distinction with Lower Guinean lineage (as indicated by “Nigerian” and to a lesser degree also “Ghanaian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean”). And it is even more reliably differentiating Upper Guinean lineage from Central African lineage (as indicated by “Angolan & Congolese”). As well as Southeast African lineage and North & East African lineage.

These implications of a reasonable predictive accuracy on 23andme are not only very significant for Cape Verdeans themselves but I would argue also relevant for people of the wider Afro-Diaspora! Follow link below for better understanding of how a macro-regional perspective can be beneficial when looking into DNA results. Because it takes into account the various intersections based on historical and ethno-linguistic considerations, aside from merely genetic ones. Mutually reinforcing but still only meant to be indicative of course and to be used as proxies!

Naturally due to genetic similarities and other sources of blurriness there might also still be overlap between macro-regions as well as 23andme’s categories. As I have always maintained the labeling of ancestral categories is not to be taken as gospel! In all my blog posts I always use quotations to refer to categories such as “Senegambian & Guinean”. And not for nothing! Because inherently there wil be some border crossing overlap. Fanning out into neighbouring areas according to some declining gradient. More insight to be gained by learning how people from various known background tend to score for these categories. Which is why I have performed my surveys among both Africans and Afro-descendants throughout the years. See also chart below for my latest findings prior to creating this page:

For immediate understanding a visual depiction might be best suited. Which is why I made these maps below displaying the wider geographic distribution of the signature regions of Cape Verdeans on both 23andme and Ancestry. Regrettably 23andme is still not providing such maps and other types of clarifying context which may improve the ability of their customers to make more sense of their results… Beyond the potentially misleading country labeling and percentages which are not always properly understood by many people.

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2) Most results included in my survey have been shared with me by the DNA testers themselves. As in fact the greater part of my survey participants are my DNA cousins! Many other results, especially from Brava and Santiago, were kindly shared with me by one of my DNA cousins from among his own matches/connections. This page features a selection of these surveyed results. I do actually have more screenshots available. However these were mostly obtained from the DNA Relatives page. And therefore these screenshots are in a less viewer-friendly format (see for example this screenshot). Their results are fully detailed though within my online spreadsheets.

Naturally I verified the background of each sample to the best of my capabilities but I did not have absolute certainty in all cases. Taking a cautious approach and preferring to leave out possible survey participants when in doubt. For a majority of my survey participants I received confirmation of their fully Cape Verdean background by way of PM. But also very often their 23andme profile pages would confirm that all 4 of their grandparents were indeed born in Cape Verde.

I also tried to verify the specific island origins of my survey participants to the best of my ability.  All the overviews specifying island origins on this page are merely an approximation though and not based on a 4 grand parents criterium per se. As many people were not fully aware. A greater part of my survey participants have mixed island origins already within the last 2 generations. Let alone going back further in time. Barlavento is referring to people with island origins from São Vicente, Santo Antão & São Nicolau, incl. mixed between those 3 islands. The same goes for Brava & Fogo, which also includes people with combined Brava & Fogo island origins.

Regrettably only very few persons had island origins from Boavista and Sal but they were mixed with other island origins as well. Unfortunately not a single person with (partial) origins from Maio. My sample size for Santiago, the most populous island of Cape Verde, is also rather minimal (n=5). This is because people from Santiago have traditionally not migrated to the USA in great numbers. Luckily 23andme is now also getting more popular in Portugal where more people from Santiago reside. Most likely several survey participants for whom I did not get confirmation about their specific island origins are actually also from Santiago. I am guessing my survey may include atleast 10 results from Santiago therefore and a few more with partial origins from Santiago. Still underrepresented but already a big improvement over my 2018 Ancestry survey!

I like to thank again all the persons who kindly agreed to share their results with me. In particular I want to give a shout-out to my primo Milton! His great help has been essential for my efforts to collect a representative sample group of 100 Cape Verdean 23andme results! Muito obrigado! Follow the link below to reach the biggest online community of Cape Verdean Genealogy & DNA enthusiasts!

My survey of Cape Verdean 23andme results is almost exclusively reflecting results which were obtained after the 2018 update (Ancestry Composition v3.0 & v5.0). In 2019 23andme expanded their reference datasets with South Asian, West Asian and most importantly North African samples. This prompted me to stop my survey because ideally you would want to only collect DNA results produced on the same footing. In order to avoid comparing apples and oranges so to speak. The differences between the 2018 & 2019 version were actually not that drastic afterall. However for Cape Verdeans as well as many Latin Americans it did have one major consequence in that their “Unassigned” scores increased a great deal. Aside from minor variations in “North African” and also “Senegambian & Guinean”. This had the least or even practically zero impact on results with predominant African admixture. Therefore in the interest of greater diversificiation of my survey group I have decided to also include a few 23andme results which reflect the 2019 update rather than the 2018 version. See also:

I have actually performed an earlier survey of Cape Verdean 23andme results based on the 2013-2018 version. Which still had a very basic African breakdown (see this page). This survey was started already in 2013. The sample size is smaller (n=32). Plus at that time I was not able yet to include any samples from Santiago or other underrepresented islands. Still useful for the continental breakdown. Including a most likely more realistic estimate of Middle Eastern & North African (MENA) admixture. And also interesting for the possibly overestimated but still distinctive North European component surfacing (9.7%). Notice how it already shows substructure when comparing Barlavento (São Vicente, Santo Antão & São Nicolau) vs. Sotavento (Brava & Fogo). It also includes haplogroups. Follow this link below for my online spreadsheet:

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3) I firmly believe that despite inherent limitations and given correct interpretation 23andme’s regional admixture estimates can be very useful as a stepping stone for follow-up researchAnd just to get a general idea of where most of your African ancestors hailed from. All according to the latest state of knowledge. Which naturally may be improved upon across time. I find it important to stay positive and focus on what ever informational value you can obtain despite imperfections. Instead of taking an overtly dismissive stance. Preferring to see the glass as half full rather than half empty 😉 You do need to make an effort yourself and stay engaged to gain more insight though!

In particular your follow-up research may include a focus on your African DNA matching patterns and how your African DNA matches may validate or correlate with your regional admixture scores. For example if you manage to find any  African matches and 1 of them appears to be Senegalese then this solidifies and also potentially specifies your primary “Senegambian & Guinean” score. Same thing goes for any North African matches corroborating minor “North African” scores. See also:

Furthermore you will want to expand your knowledge about the historically documented presence of mainland Africans in Cape Verde. In order to establish the historical plausibility of your 23andme scores. For Cape Verdeans it is vital to be aware that despite being the earliest hub of Trans-Atlantic Slavery in the 1500’s Cape Verde was actually also one of the first creolized societies in the Atlantic world! In fact the economic importance of slave trade quickly declined after the 1600’s because other slave ports on the mainland became more significant. Due to both racial mixing and a greatly diminished need of slave imports Cape Verde had a locally born population with a clear majority consisting of free-status Afro-descendants already in the early 1700’s (as confirmed by the 1731 census)!

Slavery did continue up till 1878 for a minor part of the population. However the resulting gene flow from mainland Africa must have been much more subdued in later time periods, on average. Given that the enslaved portion of Cape Verde’s population was below 10% throughout the 1800’s and below 20% throughout the 1700’s.This implies that generally speaking when tracing back to mainland Africa Cape Verdeans will often have to go back to the 1500’s and/or 1600’s instead of the 1700’s/1800’s as is more usual among Trans-Atlantic Afro-Diasporans. For more discussion:

Any follow-up research is of course to be customized according to your own personal situation and also according to your own research preferences. Plain genealogy is indepensable for dilligently building up a decent family tree. Which is very valuable in itself. But regrettably these strictly genealogical efforts will not always lead you back to mainland Africa. Save for some rare exceptions (Questlove on Finding Your Roots). Not saying it is impossible. Especially not if you happen to have a single or even several family lines from mainland Africa dating from the 1800’s. But for Cape Verdeans generally speaking I imagine the odds might be quite small already for tracing back mainland African-born ancestors from the late 1700’s. Let alone the 1500’s/1600’s! Hence why I always insist on avoiding any source snobbery with relation to regional admixture analysis, such as performed by 23andme.

However when duly performed and also with some persistence and luck your family tree research might still eventually allow you to find promising documentation (slave registers; private correspondence of slave owners; church records etc.). Possibly even mentioning any of your main African-born ancestors on 1 single family line! Combining advanced genetic genealogy techniques such as triangulation and DNA Painter with regional admixture of shared DNA segments also holds great potential in my opinion. As it might enable you to identify an earliest family line associated with such regional admixture! Especially when this regional admixture is distinctive such an approach can be very fruitful. Naturally all of this is to be combined with any other clues you might have. Also it goes without saying that extra scrutiny is always required in order to avoid jumping to conclusions! For some very insprirational blog posts read:

4) Various important and insightful studies have been published on Cape Verdean genetics. One does need to take into account some differences in methodology. Most likely the genotyping on 23andme will be most up-to-date and producing more high resolution and regionally varied results. Highly recommended to read these papers yourself for more details:

For a more detailed discussion of these studies see also:

5) I intend to incorporate my non-African 23andme survey findings in this upcoming blog post:

  • DNA matches reported for 50 Cape Verdeans on AncestryDNA (part 2; focusing on Portuguese, Jewish, West Asian and South Asian matches)

6) In my reading of Cape Verdean history I did actually at times also come across specific historical references (“Arda”, “Mina”, “Congo”, “Angola”) used for African captives outside of the expected Upper Guinea area being present in Cape Verde. Already during the 1500’s/1600’s but also in the 1856 Slave Census. Always in very small numbers and seemingly referring to isolated individuals. Their ancestral legacy, if it exists, will be direct and not by detour via Brazil, São Tomé & Principe or elsewhere. I suppose such lineage has been greatly diluted by now but might still also produce unexpected regional scores indicating African lineage from outside of Upper Guinea. I will try to eventually create a new section on my Cabo Verde Raizes Na Africa website to provide a more detailed overview of such references. For now see:

Despite being very intriguing of course these findings should not distract from the fact that Upper Guinea unequivocally remains the principal source of African origins for Cape Verdeans! I would say nearly exclusively so, even if not quite.

7) The overview below is also including the minor yet still consistent Native American scores being reported by 23andme for my 100 Cape Verdean survey participants. For 73 persons a trace amount of atleast 0.1% Native American was showing up. Although rarely surpassing 1% (4/100) and the maximum score only being 1.1%. Quite trivial therefore but still noteworthy as Cape Verde is an African island group!

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Of course these minuscule scores might very well be some fluke by 23andme. Then again it could also be suggesting Brazilian lineage in selected cases. Because Native American DNA is widely spread among (mixed-race) Brazilians generally speaking. In my survey of 45 Brazilians I found a group average of 8.8% “Native American” (see this blog post). Such an amount could easily have been diluted to about 1% after 3 generations I suppose. In addition there is also plentiful historical scope of Brazilian-Cape Verdean unions leading to offspring. Taking place in either Cape Verde itself or in Brazil. Or perhaps even in Portugal. Sailing routes between Brazil and Portugal often included a stop-over in Cape Verde during early colonial times. While during the 1800’s also a direct salt trade between Brazil & Cape Verde became quite active. Furthermore during a short period of time (1755-1778) northern Brazil & Cape Verde were even falling under the same trading monopoly by the Companhia Geral do Grão-Pará e Maranhão. For more details:

Minor Native American admixture found among Cape Verdeans may also be explained otherwise however! An intriguing early reference may already be found from the 1500’s when enslaved Native Americans were moved around across various parts of the Americas and even across oceans at times. At one time apparently even involving Cape Verde as a destination for deported Beothuk Indians from Labrador/Canada! (see Loewen, p.58). Also early trading connections with the Hispanic Caribbean may have introduced some Native American DNA within the Cape Verdean gene pool I suppose. It should be kept in mind though that due to the so called wash-out effect any genetic inheritance from these people may no longer be detectable. Generally speaking due to recombination any distinctive autosomal DNA legacy from one single person will only last about 7-8 generations. To be traced back at most to the 1700’s but certainly not to the early 1600’s or 1500’s.

A more plausible source of diluted Native American DNA among Cape Verdeans would be the USA. And more specifically New England where Cape Verdean sailors have been residing ever since they were recruited by whaling ships from that area during the 1800’s and late 1700’s even. It is known that some of the local Native American groups intermarried with Cape Verdean men quite frequently. In particular the Wampanoags. Amazingly such unions have been documented from as early as 1836 already (Shoemaker, p.166)! I imagine that because of occasional return migrations to Cape Verde mixed offspring or even Native American spouses might have ended up in Cape Verde in some exceptional cases. In fact some Native American men may also have stopped by Cape Verde as it appears that they were themselves also recruited as crew members by New England whaling ships already starting from the mid 1700’s (Nicholas, 2002)! For sources and further reading:

8) The socalled genetic community or migration feature on Ancestry is comparable to the Recent Ancestor Location (RAL) tool on 23andme. Although naturally there are some differences in matching threshold, customer databases etc.. I find the genetic community feature on Ancestry to be very useful as well. But I do have to say though that I resent that even after the most recent update in 2020 the potentially offensive labeling of Ancestry’s so-called “Portuguese Islander” community has still not been changed into simply “Cape Verdeans”. Because I am sharing profiles with many Cape Verdeans on Ancestry I know for a fact that this genetic community is OVERWHELMINGLY consisting of people of Cape Verdean descent. I really don’t understand why Ancestry finds it so difficult apparently to acknowledge that in appropriate labeling? Especially since Ancestry has set up no less than 12 (!!!) separate genetic communities for the Azores and 4 separate ones for Madeira (see this overview).

All I am asking is for Ancestry to be more sensitive in the way they label these communities and keep in mind that we are currently living in the 21st century! Cape Verde has a very long shared history with Portugal indeed. And certainly this translates in shared genetics. However let’s not forget that Cabo Verde has also been independent for 45 years already!!! Again the science is there already to single out a genetic community based chiefly on DNA matches due to shared Cape Verdean lineage. If on 23andme Cape Verde is correctly identified as a “Recent Ancestral Location”. Surely Ancestry can attempt to at least match that kind of properly labeled specificity!

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Amilcar Cabral, leader of independence movement, revolutionary thinker and national hero for both Cabo Verde & Guiné Bissau!

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