Why Do Scandinavians Have Blue Eyes?

Scandinavians are known for having blonde hair and blue eyes. Considering blue eyes are recessive and often overshadowed by brown eyes, one would assume not many people would have blue eyes anymore.

Scandinavians have blue eyes because a genetic mutation likely originated thousands of years ago in the northern European region.

Additionally, many blue-eyed Scandinavians continue to reproduce with each other, keeping the genetics alive. These genetics date as far back as 10,000 years ago.

This article will discuss the likely reasons that so many Scandinavians have blue eyes.

It will also discuss the percentage of Scandinavians with blue eyes, why that percentage is so high compared to other countries, and whether or not Scandinavians like having blue eyes.

Also, see Why Are Scandinavian Women So Beautiful? to learn more.

Scandinavian homes
Scandinavian homes

A Genetic Mutation Likely Originated in Scandinavia

According to a study by the University of Copenhagen, a genetic mutation was recently found that traces blue eyes back to Northern Europe 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. [2]

The blue-eyed mutation may have begun with a single person. As that person’s descendants reproduced (and so on), the blue-eyed genetics continued.

As a result, many Scandinavian descendants of these people have blue eyes today.

Most people with blue eyes have ancestry from northern Europe, and it’s generally assumed that that’s because people migrated there from the black sea region many thousands of years ago, around the same time the mutation began. [3]

Many blue-eyed people may have a common Northern European blue-eyed ancestor from thousands of years ago.

It also explains why so many people in Scandinavia currently have lighter eyes.

Scandinavians Continue To Reproduce Together

Since blue eyes are thought to have originated in Scandinavia and other northern regions around Europe, it’s no surprise that many Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians have such light eyes!

As these light-eyed people continue to reproduce with each other, generation after generation, the blue eyes naturally live on. 

Many Scandinavians who have children together both have blue-eyed genes, making it almost 100% likely their children will also receive those genes.

This pattern has continued for centuries and will likely continue for many centuries to come. 

There would probably be fewer instances of blue-eyed Scandinavians if there was mass immigration of dark-eyed individuals into the Nordic countries, but this is unlikely to occur any time soon and has never occurred in the past.

It would still take centuries to fully notice the difference if it were to happen.

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Have Asian Eyes? to learn more.

Northern Lights
Scandinavian Northern Lights

Light Eyes Helped Scandinavians Absorb More Sunlight

It’s no secret that Scandinavian countries get pretty cold during the winter, and there are often only a few hours of sunlight each day.

As a result, it’s harder for them to absorb vitamin D from the sunlight, and this issue dates back many years.

For example, hunter-gatherers in the Nordic region are thought to have developed lighter skin and eyes over the years to help them absorb more sunlight to receive more significant levels of vitamin D. [4]

Since there would have been a lack of sunlight during the winter months, the northern European hunter-gatherers likely experienced low levels of vitamin D.

As a result, genetic mutations probably helped their melanin levels go down.

According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, people with darker skin are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D because their skin absorbs the sun’s rays at a slower rate. [5]

Therefore, lighter-skinned people absorb sunlight faster, which is helpful in regions that lack sufficient sunlight, where vitamin D deficiency is more common.

Also, see Why Do Some Think That Scandinavians Are Weird? to learn more.

What Percentage of Scandinavians Have Blue Eyes?

Between 70% and 80% of Scandinavians have blue eyes, meaning Scandinavian countries have some of the highest instances of blue eyes worldwide.

According to World Atlas, 78% of Sweden’s population has blue eyes, while around 60% of Denmark’s population has blue eyes. [1]

Therefore, one is likely to see an abundance of blue-eyed people if they visit a Scandinavian country (or most countries in Northern Europe). 

Can Scandinavians Have Brown Eyes?

Scandinavians can and do have brown eyes, but a more significant percentage of them have baby blues.

Scandinavians are more likely to have children with brown eyes if they have a darker-eyed partner or a brown-eyed gene in the family.

Additionally, they may have brown eyes if their ancestry goes back to somewhere other than Northern Europe.

It’s common to see people throughout Scandinavia with green and brown eyes, which can be combined with various hair and skin colors. For example, some Scandinavians may have brown eyes and brown hair, while others might have green eyes and red hair.

Still, one of the most common combinations is blue eyes and blonde or light brown hair.

Also, see Why Are Scandinavians So Nice? to learn more.

Scandinavian sunrise
Why do blonde Scandinavians have blue eyes? See below

Why Do Most Blonde-Haired Scandinavians Have Blue Eyes?

Most blonde-haired Scandinavians have blue eyes because the genetics often come in pairs.

The blue-eyed gene and blonde-haired gene are both recessive and often go hand-in-hand, making it more likely for a Scandinavian with blue eyes to also have blonde hair.

However, this doesn’t mean that blonde hair and blue eyes always come in pairs like that.

Some Scandinavians will have a combination of eye and hair colors, like blue eyes and dark brown hair. 

Still, it’s more common for specific eye colors to go in pairs with certain hair colors.

A study by Cambridge University states that people with blonde and red hair are more likely to have lighter-colored eyes, while people with dark hair are more likely to have brown eyes. [6]

Therefore, many Scandinavians likely have light-colored genes that are usually in pairs.

Do Scandinavians Like Having Blue Eyes?

Scandinavians like having blue eyes just as much as anyone else likes having brown or green eyes.

In most instances, they don’t pay much attention to their eye colors, considering that many of them have the same or similar colors.

For most Scandinavians living in Nordic countries, having blue eyes is like having brown eyes in another country (as in, highly common).

Some Scandinavians prefer darker eyes over blue eyes because it’s rarer for them and, therefore, more intriguing.

Also, see Why Are Scandinavian Flags Similar? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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