Dominicans are Spaniards Mixed with African and Taino

Artistic depiction of a Spaniard on the left, a Taino in the center, and an African on the right. At the bottom is the white cross of the Dominican flag that symbolizes the union of all the colors and races that constitutes the Dominican people. This union in Dominicans is not limited to political unions or social unions, its a union that is present in the very blood of the vast majority of the population.

In November of 2013 the scientists Andrés Moreno-Estrada, Jacob L McCauley, Jake K Byrnes, Carlos Bustamente and others collaborated in the genetic study titled Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of the Caribbean. They analyzed the genome of many people from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, and Colombia. The genetic information that was gathered was compared to a genetic database of more than 3,000 people with origins native to Europe, Africa, and America.

Broad Results

  • The most probable origin of the Taino ancestry found in the Caribbean is South America. The genetic analysis demonstrates that this genetic material is shared with tribes from the Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Central American and Yucatan (Mexico). The implications of this finding is that in pre-Columbian times there was an extensive flow of genes within the Caribbean. These findings coincide with the historic documentation regarding the South American origin of the Taino indians. The native American ancestry in the Caribbean is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Spanish Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico) and is insignificant or non-existant in the French Caribbean (including Haiti) and in the English Caribbean.

  • The genetic evidence suggest ther was two major African migration waves. The scientists were able to differentiate between the two waves by the length of the tracts in each chromosome. The more time a genetic material is present in America means it has more time to be recombined with every new generation, with time creating shorter tracts compared to more recent genetic injection to the gene pool. The genetic evidence suggests that the first African migration wave originated in Western Africa (from Senegal to Liberia consisting mostly of genetic material from the Mandinga and Brong tribes). This coincides with the historic documentation that show that the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the XVI century originated from that particular region of Africa. Another interesting finding is that this genetic material is overwhelmingly present in Spanish American populations, perhaps due to the fact that in that century only Spain and Portugal had a foothold in the Western Hemisphere. The second African migration wave is reflected by much longer genetic tracts and is much more similar with populations in the Bay of Benin of Western Africa (from Ivory Coast to Cameroon). This also coincides with the historical documentation with regards to the slave trade in the XVIII and XIX century, an era when other European countries had established themselves in America. The main slave importing countries at that time was England and France.

    The European component is present in all the Spanish American populations. The overwhelming majority originates in Spain, but the amount of time that has passed since the arrival of the Spaniards that passed their genetic material to current Spanish American population is producing a divergence from the current Spanish population in Spain. It is assumed that this is due to Spanish America having a relatively limited founding European population. In anycase, most of the Spanish Americans have in common a Spanish ancestral origin.

The Main Ancestral Origins

    Mexicans are concentrated inbetween the European and the native American genetic components. This suggests that the typical Mexican is a mixed person of Spanish-indian origin.
    Among Colombians and Puerto Ricans there is evidence of large proportions of the three origins (European, African, and American). In other words, the typical Colombian and Puerto Rican is the product of significant mixtures between Spaniards, Africans, and native Americans.
    Dominicans have mostly European and African origins. The typical Dominican has a mixture of Spanish with African and some Taino.
    While Hondurans have a much greater proportion of African genes than the Mexicans, the vast majority of Hondurans are principally mixed between Spanish and native Americans.
    Cubans have the most extreme variations regarding the African ancestry. It ranges from 2% to 78%, depending on the person. The implications of this is that Cuba has a greater number of people with little or no mixture than does the other Spanish American nationalities in the study. Regardless, the typical Cuban is mostly of Spanish descent mixed with some African and some native American.
    Haitians have the highest African component in their ancestry, which averages 84%. This implies that Haiti is overwhelmingly black with a small mixed race minority that has French and African ancestry. The Taino genetic presence among Haitians is negliglible, as is the African genes from the Mandinga and Brong tribes. In this aspect, the haitians are very different from the other Spanish American populations and evidences that most of Haiti’s genetic material originated during the second African migration wave.

Dominican Results

The scientists were able to prove that the typical Dominican is a mulatto with some Taino blood in their veins. Concretely, the genetic study suggests that the typical Dominican has a slight majority of European genes (mostly Spanish) followed by an important minority of African genes, and lastly a minority of Taino genes.

Another aspect that was detectable in the study was the amount of time each genetic origin has been present in the Dominican population. They did this by measuring the length of each of the genetic tracts, with the shorter pieces indicating a much longer presence in the population. A conclusive estimate of the ancestral composition of the majority of the Dominican population spanning the last 16 generations (approximately 500 years) was reached. The Dominican people has been overwhelmingly of Spanish ancestry that with the passage of time has mulatized due to an ever increasing intermixture. In other words, Dominicans are Spaniards mixed with African and some Taino.

The Results in Graphs

The red represents the European (Spanish) genetic components, the blue the native American (Taino), and the green the African. At the bottom is a timeline covering 16 generations, which covers roughly 500 years. It clearly depicts that the Dominican population is overwhelmingly of Spanish origin that through the passage of time has become more admixed by increasing injections of African genes. The Taino genetic component has not changed much.

Most Dark Skin Dominicans are Highly Mixed Too

Another interesting finding using Dominican results in 23andme is that skin color in itself is not indicative of admixture levels. Among dark skin Dominicans that have had their genomes analyzed by 23andme have genetic results typical of a highly admixed population. This becomes evident due to the ability of comparing the genetic results with the profile images of the Dominican participants. It appears that the mixture within the Dominican population is so complete that physical features are inherited on a more random nature than in populations where admixture is less pronounced. The following are typical genetic results among dark skin Dominicans.

The vast majority of of Dominicans form part of very multi-colored families where the diversity of features is readily on display. These genetic results should not be much of a surprise for anyone that is well acquainted with the Dominican people, one of only handful of countries with a mulatto majority.