How African Is North Africa?

December 18, 2004

How African is North Africa?

BBC News
January, 2004

Countries like Mali
straddle both Africas

The African Cup of Nations kicks off in Tunisia, with 16 nations taking part — and all eyes on the continent are looking north.

Seen from space, Africa is one huge and undivided landmass.

But for some on the continent, however, the widely-held perception is of two very different regions; Africa south of the Sahara desert, or sub-Saharan Africa, and north Africa.

For some, the dividing line is more than the Sahara — it is culture, language and even skin tone.

North Africa is predominantly Arab and relatively more developed. Many residents identify more with the Middle East than they do with the larger part of the continent.

Hundreds of people from the south migrate to the north in search of greener pastures — but they are often met with hostility.

But when it comes to an African identity, some sub-Saharan Africans believe they have more claim to the continent than their northern counterparts.

On the other hand, the formation of the African Union in 2002 was a great leap forward in the effort to drive forward common action throughout the continent.

And issues that are crippling the continent are just as relevant in the north as the south — Egypt and Libya are suffering from greatly increased rates of HIV and Aids, just as Southern Africa is.

On the BBC's Africa Live Programme on Wednesday, we ask just how African is north Africa?

Does culture and language link the region more to the Arab world, or should geography be the deciding factor?

Some interesting comments:

Imazighen (Berbers and Tuaregs) of Africa have maintained a distinct African culture from prehistoric times to the present-day. The presence of our people in Africa since prehistory is often denied by some sub-Saharan Africans. Yet, we are over thirty million today. We still speak our language and preserve our millennia-old alphabet, the Tifinagh. We have maintained our non-Arabic traditions. Imazighen means "Free Human Beings." We live in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, the Sahara, Niger, Mali and Burkina-Faso. The name Africa comes from our language.
— Helene Hagan, USA

I think many of you are mixing up two things about North Africa. The Arabs are not African in the sense that the Berbers are. Man people from Kabyle region (Berber region) have been killed in Algeria because of their "African" identity.
— Lila, Algeria

The word "Africa" in Roman times referred only to Tunisia and western Algeria; only later was it extended to encompass the whole continent. Even the word is said to originally come from Berber. So if you want to be pedantic, you can claim a Namibian or an Ethiopian isn't African — but don't try to tell me that an Algerian isn't!
— Lameen, USA/Algeria

Who cares if North Africans identify more with the Middle East than sub-Saharan Africa? They are certainly closer to the Middle East in terms of culture than to black Africa. Besides identifying with us does not solve any of our myriad of problems. It is time for sub-Saharan countries to abandon this pan-African nonsense and face the task of building their respective countries.
— Julius Monkam, USA/Cameroon

As someone who is ethnically Egyptian, I do not consider myself "African". To me, that term has too many racial connotations. Egyptians, as well as other North Africans, are racially Caucasian, and that needs to be acknowledged. I personally favour making the Middle East its own geographic entity. A continent stretching from Morocco to Pakistan would have very similar racial or ethnic populations. However, I believe Africa is important to Egypt, if not only for the precious River Nile. Egyptians, however, are first and foremost Mediterranean or Arabs, depending on which you prefer. I'd go with the former.
— Patrick Elyas, Los Angeles, USA/Egypt



November 11, 2004

After years of listening to Nordicists divide Italy into a "white" North and a "bi-racial" South, and more recently hearing several Northern Italian racialists parrot this nonsense in the context of their separatist goals, I finally got fed up and created a whole sub-page on the issue. It's a companion piece to my page on Italians, though like the sub-page on Sicilians, it's meant to stand alone.


Northern Italian supremacists, who call their region Padania, are a subset of White Nationalists who equate themselves with blond Germans, and disparage their Southern compatriots as dark "Arabs" and "Africans". They've also been known to attack Greeks, Balkans, Spaniards, Portuguese and anyone else who reminds them of their Southern European heritage. While the evidence that follows thoroughly dispels their neo-Nazi fantasies, it must be stressed that none of it intends to malign Northern Italians, but only to refute this minority of nationalists who draw false racial, cultural and historical distinctions between Northern and Southern Italy.

Table of Contents:

  • Politics
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics
  • Racial Types
  • Economics
  • Culture

Intellectual Centers of Medieval Europe

October 26, 2004

Sicily a High-Tech Leader; Sardinia Close Behind

October 13, 2004

Italian Tech Volcano Set to Erupt

By Mila Fiordalisi
Wired News, Feb 2001

ROME - Italy's answer to Silicon Valley has taken root and is beginning to thrive. The surprising thing is that this isn't happening in the north — Italy's traditional region for industry and commerce — but in the deep south, hard by Sicily's Mt. Etna.

After decades of economic domination by the northern part of the country, the more rural and agrarian south — including the island of Sicily — is showing signs of flexing some economic muscle. The reason: the influx of technology and Internet companies, a trend that people living there hope means the dawn of better economic times.

The towns of Catania and Palermo, in particular, are being eyed with keen interest by entrepreneurs, telecom operators and Web companies who see this as fertile — and affordable — ground to develop. A lot of Italian and international companies are opening offices in Sicily, where the intellectual resources are plentiful and firms can benefit from additional national and European funding. The region of Sicily, in fact, is part of the EU's Zone One for investments.


Government help aside, it's the arrival of high technology that has really stoked the fires of economic change in southern Italy. According to Federcomin (The Federation of Confindustria, which represents roughly 1,000 telecoms), "the penetration of the new technologies [among] Italian families is higher in the south than in the rest of the country."

Although the north still leads the south in terms of wired families (38 percent have computers, compared to 33 percent in the south), the overall growth rate is higher south of Rome. Italians are already cell phone crazy (they spend an average of 2.4 million Lira (US$1,150) per person per year), and analysts expect an annual 40 percent increase in pay-TV subscriptions.


Cities On Line, for example, employs 410 network systems analysts, projectors and Web applications experts at offices in Catania, Palermo and Ragusa. STMicroelectronics is looking for 1,500 engineers, information specialists and technicians, while Computer Science Corporation is expected to add 1,500 jobs within two years.

Says Pasquale Pistorio, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics: "Contrary to Silicon Valley, Catania's Etna Valley, with its more than 50,000 students at the local university ... offers privileged access to that most important resource: brains; highly skilled, highly educated brains."


INSIDE TRACK: A high-tech eruption in Etna Valley:

ITALY'S TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION: Long plagued by poverty and crime, the south is becoming a centre of the new economy.

By Paul Betts
Ministro per l'Innovazione e le Tecnologie, 2002


But first impressions are deceptive and no more so than in Catania. In a country where they still believe in miracles, this rambling port city under Europe's biggest active volcano, long a stereotype of Italy's desperate and depressed deep south, is undergoing a high-tech resurrection.

"This is still a baby valley," says Pasquale Pistorio [left], the affable Sicilian chairman of ST Microelectronics, who has transformed what was a loss-making Franco-Italian semiconductor group into the world's seventh-largest chip-maker. "But Catania has all the ingredients to become a significant high-tech phenomenon and is developing fast."

Across the Tyrrhenian Sea at Cagliari, you can find a similar, even more recent phenomenon taking place. Like the rest of the south, the Sardinian port once relied on state hand-outs and ill-conceived, state-inspired heavy industrial investments. Now it is making a serious bid to become Italy's internet capital.

"Already, 50 per cent of families here access the net compared with an internet penetration of barely 7 per cent for the country as a whole," says Mario Mariani, marketing director of Tiscali, the Sardinian free-internet pioneer that was started two years ago by Renato Soru [right], a local businessman.


When Mr Pistorio joined ST Microelectronics 20 years ago, the company's big plant in Sicily had losses reaching 120 per cent of sales. But the island also had a well educated population and, as Mr Pistorio says, "when you operate in high-value activities, hard or soft, old or new economy, the basic resource is brain".

Sicily has this abundant pool of intellectual labour thanks partly to unemployment of 26 per cent. In the absence of a thriving job market, young people are more motivated to study. ST has encouraged this, working with Catania University, hosting masters' courses inside the plants, and employing many of the graduates.


ST now employs nearly 4,000 people in Catania. Its operations have indirectly created a further 4,000 jobs. More than 200 small and medium-sized companies have established themselves in the area around ST. Large, high-tech Italian and foreign companies such as Nokia, Omnitel and Alcatel have set up operations in Catania. The numbers are likely to rise, with ST planning a further Dollars 1.5bn (Pounds 1.02bn) of investment in the area during the next three years.


Like Catania, Cagliari had a university, an advanced research centre, and abundant brains. It did not have an ST Microelectronics, but it did have the paradoxical advantage of isolation.

"The island's remote geographical position stimulated its search for new communications technologies to communicate cheaply and easily with the world (as well as) the Italian mainland," argues Mr Mariani of Tiscali. "Even if the new network economy was not born here and was already flourishing in the US, Sardinia became an internet pioneer in Europe...."


Asians Getting Surgery to Look Western

October 9, 2004

Changing Faces

...and thighs, calves, busts — you name it. From Seoul to Surabaya, Asians are turning to cosmetic surgery like never before. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen Investigates

Time Asia, 2004


Around Asia, women — and increasingly, men — are nipping and tucking, sucking and suturing, injecting and implanting, all in the quest for better looks. In the past, Asia had lagged behind the West in catching the plastic surgery wave, held back by cultural hang-ups, arrested medical skills and a poorer consumer base. But cosmetic surgery is now booming throughout Asia like never before. In Taiwan, a million procedures were performed last year, double the number from five years ago. In Korea, surgeons estimate that at least one in 10 adults have received some form of surgical upgrade and even tots have their eyelids done. The government of Thailand has taken to hawking plastic surgery tours. In Japan, noninvasive procedures dubbed "petite surgery" have set off such a rage that top clinics are raking in $100 million a year.


The culturally loaded issue today is the number of Asians looking to remake themselves to look more Caucasian. It's a charge many deny, although few would argue that under the relentless bombardment of Hollywood, satellite TV, and Madison Avenue, Asia's aesthetic ideal has changed drastically. "Beauty, after all, is evolutionary," says Harvard psychology professor Nancy Etcoff, who is the author of Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty — not coincidentally a best seller in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and China. Asians are increasingly asking their surgeons for wider eyes, longer noses and fuller breasts — features not typical of the race. To accommodate such demands, surgeons in the region have had to invent unique techniques. The No. 1 procedure by far in Asia is a form of blepharoplasty, in which a crease is created above the eye by scalpel or by needle and thread; in the U.S., blepharoplasty also ranks near the top, but involves removing bags and fat around the eyes. Likewise, Westerners use botox, or botulinum toxin, to diminish wrinkles — while in Korea, Japan and Taiwan, botox is injected into wide cheeks so the muscle will atrophy and the cheeks will shrink.

Just as Asian faces require unique procedures, their bodies demand innovative operations to achieve the leggy, skinny, busty Western ideal that has become increasingly universal. Dr. Suh In Seock, a surgeon in Seoul, has struggled to find the best way to fix an affliction the Koreans call muu-dari and the Japanese call daikon-ashi: radish-shaped calves. Liposuction, so effective on the legs of plump Westerners, doesn't work on Asians since muscle, not fat, accounts for the bulk. Suh says earlier attempts to carve the muscle were painful and made walking difficult. "Finally, I discovered that by severing a nerve behind the knee, the muscle would atrophy," says Suh, "thereby reducing its size up to 40%." Suh has performed over 600 of the operations since 1996. He disappears for a minute and returns with a bottle of fluid containing what looks like chopped up bits of ramen noodles. He has preserved his patients' excised nerves in alcohol. "And that's just since November," he says proudly.


Non-Whites in the U.K.

October 6, 2004

Geographic Distribution

45% of non-White people live in London

Regional distribution of the non-White population, April 2001

Non-White ethnic groups are considerably more likely to live in England than in the other countries of the UK. In 2001 they made up 9 per cent of the total population in England compared with only 2 per cent in both Scotland and Wales, and less than 1 per cent in Northern Ireland.

The non-White population of the UK is concentrated in the large urban centres. Nearly half (45 per cent) lived in the London region in 2001, where they comprised 29 per cent of all residents.

After London, the second largest proportion was in the West Midlands (with 13 per cent of the non-White population), followed by the South East (8 per cent), the North West (8 per cent), and Yorkshire and the Humber (7 per cent).

In contrast less than 4 per cent of those from non-White groups lived in the North East and the South West. Minority ethnic groups made up only 2 per cent of each of these regions' populations.

Seventy eight per cent of Black Africans and 61 per cent of Black Caribbeans lived in London. More than half of the Bangladeshi group (54 per cent) also lived in London. Other ethnic minority groups were more dispersed. Only 19 per cent of Pakistanis resided in London, while 21 per cent lived in the West Midlands, 20 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber, and 16 per cent in the North West.

In Great Britain the highest concentration of White Irish people was in London. Almost a third (32 per cent) of the 691,000 White Irish people lived in London where they made up 3 per cent of the population. The English region with the lowest proportion of White Irish people was the North East, where they made up less than half a per cent of the population.

Non-White population by area, April 2001

Link (with more stats)

"Rosie the Riveter" Italian?

September 27, 2004

According to one account, an Italian-American aircraft worker, Rose Bonavita, became the inspiration for a 20th-century icon, Rosie the Riveter.


During WWII, women on the home front took over many factory jobs. Rose Bonavita-Hickey, and partner Jennie Florio, drilled 900 holes and placed 3,300 rivets in an airplane tail end within six hours at the former General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division in North Tarrytown [New York]. Mrs. Hickey was recognized with a personal letter from President Roosevelt, and became afterwards identified as our own "Rosie the Riveter."


The "WE CAN DO IT!" poster, created in 1943 by J. Howard Miller, encouraged women entering the workforce. 1942's "Rosie the Riveter," a popular homefront song, became a nickname for women in the war workforce. These "Rosies" included Rose Bonavita, who drove a record 3,345 rivets into a torpedo bomber in 1943.


Study Clarification II

September 22, 2004

Dienekes Pontikos already wrote a complete deconstruction and exposé of the following study and its politically motivated authors on his old blog (also available on his website), yet the study continues to be cited regularly by Nordicists, Afrocentrists and Macedonian Nationalists in support of their racial and political agendas. So it's worth revisiting this disputed paper to summarize its scientific inaccuracies, and compare it to later, more reliable research.


HLA genes in Macedonians and the sub-Saharan origin of the Greeks

Arnaiz-Villena et al. (2001)
Tissue Antigens

Link to Full Text

Misused Quote:

Greeks are found to have a substantial relatedness to sub-Saharan (Ethiopian) people, which separate them from other Mediterranean groups. Both Greeks and Ethiopians share quasi-specific DRB1 alleles, such as *0305, *0307, *0411, *0413, *0416, *0417, *0420, *1110, *1112, *1304 and *1310. Genetic distances are closer between Greeks and Ethiopian/sub-Saharan groups than to any other Mediterranean group and finally Greeks cluster with Ethiopians/sub-Saharans in both neighbour joining dendrograms and correspondence analyses. The time period when these relationships might have occurred was ancient but uncertain and might be related to the displacement of Egyptian-Ethiopian people living in pharaonic Egypt.


At about the same time this study was published, its main author, Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, had a similar HLA study published in Nature, which was later dropped following criticism by three top men in the field of population genetics (Risch, Piazza and Cavalli-Sforza 2002). They rejected the conclusions Arnaiz-Villena drew based on the HLA DRB1 allele — the same marker analyzed in the present study:

Even a cursory look at the paper's diagrams and trees immediately indicates that the authors make some extraordinary claims. They used a single genetic marker, HLA DRB1, for their analysis to construct a genealogical tree and map of 28 populations from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Japan. Using results from the analysis of a single marker, particularly one likely to have undergone selection, for the purpose of reconstructing genealogies is unreliable and unacceptable practice in population genetics.

The limitations are made evident by the authors' extraordinary observations that Greeks are very similar to Ethiopians and east Africans but very distant from other south Europeans; and that the Japanese are nearly identical to west and south Africans.
It is surprising that the authors were not puzzled by these anomalous results, which contradict history, geography, anthropology and all prior population-genetic studies of these groups. Surely the ordinary process of refereeing would have saved the field from this dispute.

We believe that the paper should have been refused for publication on the simple grounds that it lacked scientific merit.

Note, however, that when analyzed properly even HLA genes, while not ideal markers for tracing ancestral relationships, demonstrate the affinity of Greeks to other Balkan and European peoples, as shown by two recent studies:

In the present study we analyzed for the first time HLA class I and class II polymorphisms defined by high-resolution typing methods.... Phylogenetic and correspondence analyses showed that Bulgarians are more closely related to Macedonians, Greeks, and Romanians than to other European populations and Middle Eastern people living near the Mediterranean.

Ivanova et al. 2002

The present study is the first to be performed in Macedonia using high-resolution sequence-based method for direct HLA typing. ... A phylogenetic tree constructed on the basis of the high-resolution data deriving from other populations revealed the clustering of Macedonians together with other Balkan populations (Greeks, Croats, Turks and Romanians) and Sardinians, close to another "European" cluster consisting of the Italian, French, Danish, Polish and Spanish populations. The included African populations grouped on the opposite side of the tree.

Petlichkovski et al. 2004

More importantly, this obvious affinity has been confirmed with the most up-do-date research on autosomal microsatellites. For example, Ayub et al. 2003 used 182 loci (as opposed to Arnaiz-Villena's one) to group several world populations based on genetic distance. Their results reveal Greeks' distance from Africans, and closeness to Basques and other Europeans:

Update 10/26/04: A new textbook written by geneticist Mark Jobling uses this very Arnaiz-Villena study as an example of shoddy research based on arbitrary interpretations. You can access relevant passages at Dienekes' blog.

Update 04/27/11: A group of academics have put together a website containing a lengthy article that addresses and thoroughly refutes this study and others like it, calling for them all to be retracted. Read more.

'Celts' Are Not Really Celtic

September 17, 2004

Famous 'Celtic' nations may be misnamed

Genetic studies hint at unexpected origins of clans

Sept. 9, 2004

DUBLIN, Ireland - Celtic nations like Ireland and Scotland have more in common with the Portuguese and Spanish than with "Celts" — the name commonly used for a group of people from ancient Alpine Europe, scientists say.

"There is a received wisdom that the origin of the people of these islands lie in invasions or migrations ... but the affinities don't point eastwards to a shared origin," said Daniel Bradley, co-author of a genetic study into Celtic origins.

Early historians believed the Celts — thought to have come from an area to the east of modern France and south of Germany — invaded the Atlantic islands around 2,500 years ago.

But archaeologists have recently questioned that theory, and now Bradley, from Trinity College Dublin, and his team, say DNA evidence supports their thinking.

Geneticists used DNA samples from people living in Celtic nations and compared the genetic traits with those of people in other parts of Europe.

The study showed that people in Celtic areas — Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Cornwall — had strong genetic ties, but that this heritage had more in common with people from the Iberian Peninsula.

"What we would propose is that this commonality among the Atlantic facade is much older ... 6,000 years ago or earlier," Bradley told Reuters.

He said people may have moved up from areas around modern-day Portugal and Spain at the end of the Ice Age.

The similarities between Atlantic "Celts" could also suggest these areas had good levels of communications with one another, he added.

But the study could not determine whether the common genetic traits meant "Celtic" nations would look alike or have similar temperaments. Dark or red hair and freckles are considered Celtic features.


Body Build and Climatic Adaptation

September 14, 2004

The following table depicts the ratio of stature (cm) to weight (kg) for inhabitants of different parts of the world, and shows how it correlates with climate, starting out low (stocky build) in cooler environments and tending to get higher (gracile proportions) as temperatures increase. This works to better conserve heat in the cold, and throw it off in places with hot climates.


United States (Army)
Mahratta (India)
Bengal (India)


Kazakh (Turkestan)
North China
Central China
Hong Kong










Paul T. Baker. "The Biological Adaptation of Man to Hot Deserts". The American Naturalist, 1958.

Stats on U.S. Ethnic Groups

September 10, 2004

Here are some interesting statistics from Michael Barone's book The New Americans, which contrasts the experiences of past Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants with those of modern Blacks, Hispanics and Asians (respectively). The stats are quoted from a review of the book at FrontPage Magazine.

  • By 1990 Italian-Americans earned income 17 percent above the national average and were 50 percent more likely to have college degrees.
  • ...during the Al Capone era in Chicago, only 30 percent of those in organized crime were Italian-Americans, while 29 percent were Irish-Americans and 20 percent were Jewish.
  • By 1937, Jews were 25 percent of the population of New York City — but 65 percent of lawyers, 64 percent of dentists, and 55 percent of physicians in the city were Jews.
  • ...Jewish-Americans who were 4 percent of the U.S. population in the 1930s have declined to only 2 percent today. Intermarriage with non-Jews characterized 50 percent of their marriages during the 1990s, with only 28 percent of children from such marriages being raised as Jews and only 20 percent getting Jewish religious education.
  • By 1960 more than 75 percent of Jewish-Americans voted Democratic or even farther to the Left.
  • By 1995, Asian-Americans were 4 percent of America's population but 14 percent of all those scoring 700+ on the verbal Scholastic Aptitude Test and 28 percent of those scoring 750+ on the math portion of the SAT.
  • Today Asian-Americans are 19 percent of all students at Harvard, 28 percent at MIT, 22 percent at Stanford, 39 percent at Berkeley, 38 percent at UCLA, and 10 percent at the University of Michigan.

Ukrainians: Plates

September 7, 2004

Photographic survey of racial variation in the Ukraine, from the Slavic Anthropology website.

Representative samples:

Group Photo of French Basques

September 2, 2004

Basques are a pretty good standard of "Europeanness" since they're known to be of extremely old stock and virtually free of later admixture. Below is a large random sampling of French Basques who, according to Coon, are even lighter than Spanish Basques. Yet still, almost all of them have dark brown hair, and a few would no doubt appear mixed or non-European to the average American.

Emotion and Ethnicity

August 27, 2004

Variation among European Americans in Emotional Facial Expression

Tsai et al. (2003)
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology

ABSTRACT: The authors examined whether European Americans (EA) several generations removed from their ancestors varied as a function of their countries of origin by comparing the emotional facial expressions of EA originally from Scandinavian countries (EA-S), who value emotional control, and those from Ireland (EA-I), who value emotional expression. EA-S were less expressive than EA-I while reliving various emotions, especially happiness and love, suggesting that in this domain, EAs continue to be influenced by their cultural heritages.

Link (PDF)

Separatist and Regionalist Movements

August 25, 2004

This is a good resource detailing in brief the regions of the world desiring sovereignty, with links to additional information on each movement:

Included are trouble spots such as Tibet, Kashmir, Kurdistan, Chechnya, Euskadi (Basque Territory), Corsica, Ulster (N Ireland) and Quebec; well-known secessionists like Padania and Ausonia (N and S Italy), Gymru (Wales), Hawaii, Texas and Puerto Rico; and a few surprises like Occitania (S France), Bayern (Bavaria), Okinawa, New England and Western Canada.

Study Clarification I

August 21, 2004

I see the same misunderstood studies turn up in discussions everywhere — usually posted by people who haven't bothered to read beyond the Abstract — and I get tired of having to clarify them over and over again. So occasionally I'll be using this blog to create handy clarifications for easy linking. I'll start with a study that was cited in a recent discussion.


Y-chromosome 10 locus short tandem repeat haplotypes in a population sample from Sicily Italy

Ghiani et al. (2004)
Legal Medicine

Link to Abstract

Misused Quote:

Overall, results indicate Sicily is closest genetically to the mainland Italian population but also with evidence of a significant African component in the male gene pool.


That's from the Abstract and, as is often the case, greatly exaggerated and somewhat misleading. The body of the study reveals that the "African component" is specifically North African, and puts the use of the adjective "significant" into perspective:

Sicily and North West Africa share five of the seven-locus haplotypes.... Furthermore, these five haplotypes are not present in any other Italian population [20–23]. The shared five haplotypes represent 5% of the total Sicilian haplotypes [that's just 2.5% admixture]. These African haplotypes most probably were introduced into Sicily sometime between the 7th and 8th century, during the island’s domination by the Arab Empire.


The UPGMA tree (Fig. 2) visualizes the relationship of the populations of the Mediterranean Basin, Europe and North West Africa using pairwise distances. The North West African and Spanish (Spain and Basques) populations occupy an outgroup position within the tree, located some distance away with respect to the other European groups, which includes Sicily. Within the European cluster there is a tight grouping containing Sicily (South Italy), Italy (from all mainland), Germany, Holland, Hungary, Lombardy (North Italy) and Tuscany (Centre Italy). Sardinia lies in a separate branch at the edge of the cluster, and well way from Sicily.

Misused Quote:

An African contribution to the Sicilian gene pool gains support from several lines of evidence. ... Bernstein [29], Ragusa [30], Barrai [31]...agreed upon the fact that there has been a low but significant level of admixture with Africa. Using mtDNA haplotype frequency, Semino et al. [32] estimated that African gene flow into Sicily ranged between 10 and 34%.


The authors are a bit behind the times in terms of the research they've chosen to cite. The first three studies are based on the adaptive sickle cell gene, while the mtDNA study by Semino is from the 80s and problematic. Its results have not been duplicated by subsequent studies using more contemporary mtDNA sequencing methods. For example, Simoni et al. 2000 sampled a variety of Europeans, including Sicilians, and came to this contradictory conclusion:

Note that the analysis of molecular variance failed to identify any significant differences between northern and southern Europe; allele frequencies are roughly the same in the two regions.

Other studies like Vona et al. 2001 (TREE) and McEvoy et al. 2004 (PLOT) show a similar separation between Sicilian and North African/Middle Eastern mtDNA pools. And this, as well as the above Y-chromosome data, is reinforced by superior autosomal DNA testing. See, e.g., Kandil et al. 1999 (PLOT).

[NB: Excerpts from some of the cited studies and others can be viewed on this page.]

Tanned vs. Natural

August 18, 2004

People desperate for "evidence" of racial admixture in certain groups ignore the effects that a hot climate and prolonged sun exposure can have on phenotype. On my Skin Color page, I show some contrasts of Southern Europeans very tanned and then naturally colored. Here are a few more.

Salvatore Commesso (Italian):

Rui Costa (Portuguese):

Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Sicilian):

[ Note sharp tan lines at bottom of left image (click to view full) ]

Blondes for Affairs, Brunettes for Marriage

August 16, 2004

Here's an article for Nordicists who think of blond women as a some sort of prize sought after for eugenic or "upbreeding" purposes. Exotic sex toy would be a more apt description of how they're perceived. And women aren't rushing out to "upbreed" with blond men either.

Men prefer blondes as lovers and mistresses

A survey has revealed men really do prefer blondes — at least as lovers and mistresses — while women least fancy ginger men.

Until they were asked to 'pick' a wife, more of the men polled by Garnier opted for a woman with blonde hair.

Second favourites for having an affair with were redheads.

Men's preferences change, however, with talk of marriage, with brunette emerging as the favourite hair colour for a bride.

The poll also questioned women on what colour hair they most liked in a man, finding dark-haired men are the most popular and gingers the least. Just 2% of women said they liked ginger hair best.

Instead, 37% of women said they preferred brunette men, followed by light brown, 29%, then blonde, 16%. Black hair was not included in the list.

The "blonde bombshell" myth seemed to be confirmed among the men who were questioned. Around 26% of men thought blonde women made the best lovers, 22% thought ginger, 20% light brown hair, and 10% brunette. Black hair was not given as a choice in any of the questions.

For mistresses, 37% of men said their ideal would be blonde, followed by 22% redhead, 13% brunette, and 6% light brown hair. But asked who they would like to walk down the aisle, 30% of men said brunette, 27% light-brown, 15% blonde, and 7% ginger.

Blondes were seen as less likely to have a successful career or earn a fortune. Almost a third of men — 31% — thought brunettes would also earn most, with 26% saying blondes, 11% brown haired women, and 9% redheads.

A psychologist at Portsmouth University, said: "What's interesting about this study is that men are now showing an overall preference for brunettes, suggesting that this colour provides a safe haven for men looking for longer-term relationships or making the ultimate life commitment — marriage."


Legacy of the Romans in Britain

August 13, 2004

An Overview of Roman Britain

By Dr Mike Ibeji
BBC History, June 2001

From the Roman invasion to the
importance of Britain to the Romans,
Mike Ibeji explores some subtle and
surprising truths about Roman Britain.

1. Striving to be Roman

The Roman invasion of Britain was arguably the most significant event ever to happen to the British Isles. It affected our language, our culture, our geography, our architecture and even the way we think. Our island has a Roman name, its capital is a Roman city and for centuries (even after the Norman Conquest) the language of our religion and administration was a Roman one.

For 400 years, Rome brought a unity and order to Britain that it had never had before. Prior to the Romans, Britain was a disparate set of peoples with no sense of national identity beyond that of their local tribe. In the wake of the Roman occupation, every 'Briton' was aware of their 'Britishness'. This defined them as something different from those people who came after them, colouring their national mythology, so that the Welsh could see themselves as the true heirs of Britain, whilst the Scots and Irish were proud of the fact that they had never been conquered by Rome.

Yet perhaps Rome's most important legacy was not its roads, nor its agriculture, nor its cities, nor even its language, but the bald and simple fact that every generation of British inhabitant that followed them — be they Saxon, Norman, Renaissance English or Victorian — were striving to be Roman. Each was trying to regain the glory of that long-lost age when Britannia was part of a grand civilisation, which shaped the whole of Europe and was one unified island.

I am usually asked five questions whenever people talk to me about Roman Britain, and they find the answers profoundly surprising. People's view of Rome is of a grand, monolithic dictatorship which imposed its might upon an unwilling people, dictating how they lived, how they spoke and how they worshipped. They see the Romans as something akin to the Nazis (which is hardly surprising since the fascists tried to model themselves on Rome). The truth about Roman Britain is much more subtle and surprising, and serves to show why on the one hand their legacy has endured so long, and on the other, why their culture vanished so quickly once they departed from these shores.

Read Parts 2 through 7

Non-White Admixture in the Dutch and Belgians

August 8, 2004

This passage was transcribed from a small Dutch journal not available online. The word "significant" should be interpreted cautiously until we have some actual numbers, but it does suggest that Holland and Belgium may have levels of non-Caucasoid admixture comparable to, or even greater than, those of Portugal (which still wouldn't be racially significant). This would come as no surprise since all three countries share similar colonial pasts.

Sub-Saharan mtDNA and Y-chromosomes as well as Asian mtDNA (Asian Y-chromosome testing has proven inconclusive at the moment) have been found in significant numbers in the white populations of most areas of the Netherlands and Flanders. This is due to the colonial history of the Netherlands and Belgium. The exception is Friesland, where none has yet been discovered. A study on Belgium outside of Flanders has not yet been performed. We will publish the full results in the next issue.

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, Africans were present in these regions, with some absorption having taken place over time. Perhaps more significant, though, were the African and Asian wives brought home with Dutch colonists. In the Netherlands, it is not uncommon, for example, to find a sub-Saharan Y-haplotype and Asian mtDNA-lineage in the same phenotypically Caucasian male.

The reason is simple: This person (as do all people) had 256 great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. His father's father's father's father's father's father's father's father was black African, and his mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother was Asian. But all or most of his other 254 great (x6) grandparents were European. This would leave the male looking utterly European, with his Asian and sub-Saharan DNA being negligible. However, if racial characteristics or ethnic composition were trying to be established by this method, we'd think we were dealing with a half-African half-Asian person, and we'd be completely wrong, since the male is entirely European in phenotype. For this reason, mtDNA and Y-chromosomes cannot be used to determine a person's "race" or appearance. Rather, it can be used to determine some lineages and their possible origins.

Furthermore, no DNA tests to date, including autosomal DNA, mtDNA, and Y-chromosome tests, can conclusively and beyond any shadow of a doubt rule out (or even establish) African or Asian or any other ancestry. Recently, autosomal testing was carried out on a Dutch female who knew she had an African great-great grandparent, and this was corroborated by older family members and memoirs left by grandparents. Yet we could find no trace of it whatsoever. In addition to this, if we say a certain lineage is African or Asian, we don't really know for certain if this is the case. We only know that the lineage in question was found at a relatively high frequency in a certain population that we think is representative of a certain ethnic grouping. We don't, however, know if these people are pure; in fact, they probably aren't, and there is nothing that we can do to establish levels of impurity. Therefore, this is merely a lottery. This isn't to say none of this is useful; it can, as mentioned before, help to determine some lineages.

Dr. Bart Hulsebos

The Anthropology and Genetics Journal

Maastrich, Netherlands
Tongeren, Belgium

Iberian Y-chromosomes

August 5, 2004

Reduced genetic structure of the Iberian peninsula revealed by Y-chromosome analysis: implications for population demography

Flores et al. (2004)
European Journal of Human Genetics


Coincidentally, spatial analysis of genetic distances points to a focal distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups in this area. These results indicate that neither old or recent Levantine expansions nor North African contacts have influenced the current Iberian Y-chromosome diversity so that geographical patterns can be identified.


The Y-chromosome variation landscape in Iberia was also evaluated using principal component analysis, which included samples with highly resolved Y-chromosome data from Europe...Near East...and Northwest Africa.... The first two components of the analysis accounted for 83.9% of genetic variance, and produced three well-separated clusters of populations, evidencing the sharp differences between the Y-chromosome pool of Western Europe, Near East and Northwest Africa (Figure 4).


Britain's North-South Economic Divide

August 1, 2004

Nordicists like to dwell on Southern Italy's economic problems, attributing them to racial inferiority. But if "South of Rome lies Africa" (a common insult), then what lies North of Birmingham?

The North-South Divide

If you take a closer look at England you can see that there are great differences between the North and the South. The living standards in the South-East, South, South-West, East Anglia and the East Midlands are much better than in the peripheral areas. There are mutual prejudices between a complacent population in the south and a proud but aggrieved one in the north. But the divide goes well beyond mere prejudice. An undeniable contrast exists between the conditions of life in the North and in the South.

It gets very clear if you look at Horsham in the South with 2 per cent of unemployment and Greenock in the North with an unemployment rate of 17 per cent. During the period 1979-1987 over 90 per cent of the job losses had been north of the Severn-Wash-divide.

The high unemployment rates result from the decline of heavy industry (steel, coal, shipbuilding) in the second part of this century. It has hit the North more than other parts of England because during the Industrial revolution the North had developed into the country's major centre of heavy industry.

The divide is also noticeable in other things. The North for example has the highest death rate in England, the highest proportion of divorced men and the lowest proportion of 16-year-olds remaining in school.

There are exceptions to the general tendency, but on the whole the divide still exists. It is questionable, however, if the South, especially London, really benefits from the growing regional imbalance. The population density is very high and because of the industry there is bad pollution and the therefore peoples' health is threatened.


North-south divide 'getting worse'

BBC News, July 2003

The north-south economic divide in England is getting worse not better, MPs say.

Six regions are lagging behind the UK average, which is having a damaging effect on growth in Britain as a whole.


Some of the worst poverty, joblessness and bad health are concentrated in a few areas of the country.


"The differences between the economies of the English regions have continued to widen in recent years resulting in higher unemployment and shorter life expectancy in the North and escalating house prices and congestion in the South East," said Mr Bennett.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said the government acknowledged there were "persistent disparities" in the regions' economic development.

"Output per person in the North East is nearly 40% or £7,000 below that of London."


Is there a north-south divide? (talking point)

BBC News, July 2004

Is there a north south divide?
1723 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
Vote now closed


Of course there is a north-south divide and there has been for a long time. As long as the bulk of the financial and all the political power are concentrated in London, there will continue to be a divide. A highly London-centric media doesn't exactly help matters either. It would be hard to believe for an outside observer of our media that anything happens in Britain outside London except crime and deprivation.
— Ian, Edinburgh

I recently moved to the South East, having lived most of my life in the North of England - and I wouldn't go back. There were a number of reasons I wanted to come to the south - not least better wages, better career prospects, better leisure facilities and a better standard of living. My only regret is that I can't afford to buy a house down here...
— Irmani, Essex

Not so much a divide, more of a chasm! That's why I'm reading this web page in Dubai and not my native Newcastle!
— Phil Ritson, Dubai, U.A.E.

The North-South divide is definitely still here. I'm currently looking for a graduate or equivalent job which pays enough money to be able to manage loan/overdraft repayments and actually have some quality of life. I can find nothing in the north-east. I am stuck with a choice of either working for a pittance in a service industry up here, or going down south, where I'll only just be able to afford to live, but where the career prospects are much better. Is it any wonder that graduates and professionals are moving south?
— Dawn, Middlesbrough, UK

Judging from a lot of the replies on this forum the north-south divide seems to consist solely of moaning northerners assuming everyone in the south is a materialistic snob. And if you were building a rail terminal/sports stadium/airport would you put it closest to cities populated by millions of people who could actually use the facilities, or in the middle of nowhere? Stop whining northerners and do something to help regenerate your environment instead of expecting someone else to do it for you!
— Conrad, Reading

It is time for London to break away as its own state. London does not need the dependant north on its shoulders.
— Donal, Hackney, E London


Southern Italian Economy

It's easy to find statistics showing abject poverty and high rates of unemployment in Southern Italy, as compared to the wealthier, more industrialized Northern regions. However, while a North-South gap certainly exists, two recent surveys have suggested that official estimates of its extent should be taken with a grain of salt.

Looking to 2007: Italy Times Two

Stanton H. Burnett
Stefano Vaccara

Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)
Occasional Reports in European Studies

November 1999



Lavoro Nero


But the third factor, somewhat alleviating the second, is the existence of a far vaster private sector than ever shows up in the economic statistics. The size of the lavoro nero sector and the black market in the South clearly exceeds that of any other EU region, a fact that can now be persuasively demonstrated. According to Italstat, the most reliable source of national economic statistics, "black" labor in the Mezzogiorno amounted to an even fifty percent of all "jobs" by the end of 1998. Six months later, Italstat raised its figure to 51 percent. The figure for the North was bad enough — 31.5 percent — but more in line with other Mediterranean EU countries. For any projection toward 2007, however, it is the trend that must be noted. Italstat found that the gap between North and South was growing continually wider. Indeed, when actual laborers were counted (rather than jobs), the South's percentage was double that of the North and Center.

These raw figures require a closer look, because one economist's analysis of Calabria found low pay, high unemployment, and a very high level of consumer spending. In 1994, the government insurance agency placed the number of business enterprises in Calabria at 23,758, while Istat, carrying out the 1996 census, found about 90,000 businesses in the same region. The economist Domenico Marino concluded, on the basis of 4,000 interviews in Calabria, that 75 percent of the Calabrian work force would refuse a fairly low-paying job, despite a very high official level of unemployment. In Calabria, with its dire employment figures, 84 percent of the families own their own home. What such anomalies must mean is that real income in Calabria is far higher than what is "on the books." Many among the vast numbers of officially unemployed are, in fact, partly or fully employed. They are earning no social benefits, but they are earning the daily lire that keep their families afloat.


A very large part of the South's hidden labor is made up of entrepreneurs, sometimes also employing black labor, and existing themselves outside official recognition, taxation, protection, control, or counting. A recent analysis concludes that "there exists in several zones of the Mezzogiorno a whole fabric of small and very small businesses that escape every census, but that work and make profits, share among themselves a serious level of production, export to other regions [of Italy] and abroad." A map of the South's submerged economy shows a series of ink blots in every region, "where work is done without any controls, safe from the tax collector but not safe from accidents and injuries, usually in violation of a number of laws [governing commercial outlets, working conditions, etc.], totally outside official cognizance."

Every year brings plans either to stamp out or to "regularize" the South's submerged economy. But a professor of political economy at the University of Naples warns to go slow: "if we observe these initiatives carefully the image of a Mezzogiorno that is forever the panhandler does not seem to be confirmed. What confronts us is a creeping vitality, almost a new frontier." According to Professor Meldolesi, the submerged economy is several times bigger than officially estimated.


In most cases, "black" workers suffer no risk from the State. Controls on black labor are few and not enforced. Yet they live dangerously. They work — sometimes doing heavy and dangerous work — with no social net, no pensions (other than the minimal social security that everybody gets), no other welfare assistance, no protection at the work place, and no control over labor conditions. The State is nowhere present in their lives, as either law-enforcer or protector.

This massive sector skews all the statistics. It means that the GDP for the Italian South (and for Italy as a whole) is far from accurate. And the unemployment figures do not reflect reality.

Link (PDF)

The Structure and History of Italian Unemployment

Giuseppe Bertola, EUI and Università di Torino
Pietro Garibaldi, Università Bocconi and fRDB

November 2002


2.5 Shadow economy

As mentioned when discussing Figure 1 (see also Jones and Riddell, 1999), the definition of unemployment is unavoidably less than clear-cut. In Italy, as we discuss below, several types of temporary layoff, non-market employment, and 'activation' programs make up a gray area of individuals who are not really employed but (as is the case for ALMP participants in other countries) are not counted as unemployed.

Further, official employment statistics (though not, at least in principle, the survey-based ones) may be imprecise due to undeclared or 'black' employment pools. The shadow economy is important in Italy and, like in other European countries, its size trends up in time: different estimates suggest that shadow activity increased by some 10-15 percent of GDP in the 70s to some 30-40 percent in the 1990s. This upward trend parallels that of Italy's aggregate unemployment rates. Not surprisingly, and quite interestingly from the institutional perspective we lay out below, the incidence of the shadow economy varies importantly within Italy, again quite like unemployment. Regions with low productivity and high unemployment display significantly larger shares of unregistered activities and employment than the country averages. Boeri and Garibaldi (2002) offer a detailed account and analysis of this phenomenon. Figure 6, reproduced from that paper, plots the average shadow employment rate over 20 Italian regions, and shows that shadow employment varies between 10 percent in Piedmont (North-West) and more than 30 percent in Sicily (South). These estimates suggest that the proportion of irregular employment may be as high as 30-35 per cent in the South, around 20 per cent in the Centre and at one-digit level in the North-West and the North-East, the latter macro-region being the one with the lowest level of shadow activity. A portion of this variability may be accounted for by the various regions' heterogeneous production structure. However, it is large within industrial branches marked not only in agriculture, but also within industry, with the South displaying an incidence of shadow employment that is twice as high than in the rest of the country. There is no tendency over time to the narrowing of the regional differentials in the incidence of the shadow economy: in 1995 the South to Centre-North gap was roughly the same as 10 years earlier.

Link (PDF)