A paper published last year in Nature observed that most Europeans descend essentially from three ancestral populations:
European hunter-gatherers who settled the continent in the Upper Paleolithic, Europe’s first farmers who expanded from Anatolia across Europe in the early Neolithic starting around 8,000 years ago, and groups from the Pontic Steppe (pictured) that arrived in Europe during the final Neolithic and early Bronze Age ~ 4,500 years ago.
Most Europeans’ ancestry can be broken down as a mix of these three ancestral populations. However, the paper adds:
This model, however, does not fit well for present-day populations from north-eastern Europe such as Saami, Russians, Mordovians, Chuvash, Estonians, Hungarians, and Finns: they carry additional ancestry, seen as increased allele-sharing with modern East Asian populations. The origin and timing of this East Asian-related contribution is unknown.
Hence the existence of so many amusing and tongue-in-cheek Finns-as-Mongols and Finns-as-Elves memes (in general, Elves are generally portrayed looking like northern Europeans with a dash of Oriental).
The Finns, Hungarians, and Estonians are unique in Europe in speaking Finno-Ugric languages. Most European nations speak Indo-European languages, descending from the original language of conquerors hailing from the Pontic Steppe. Genetic studies suggest that Finns are not just uniquely linguistically, but also genetically. Similarly, the Basque are the only other nation in Europe not speaking an Indo-European language and, as I have previously written, their region too appears to be genetically distinct relative to the rest of the French population.
In fact, any East Asian contribution to the Finnish gene pool long predates the Mongols and even the spread of Uralic languages in northern Europe. The scientists estimate that Siberian DNA was present in Finland at least 3,500 years ago.
The existence of a genetically-unique Finnish people has proven beneficial to humanity. A striking example of this is a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine which “harnessed the unique genetic history of the people of Finland to identify variations in DNA that might predispose certain individuals to disease, whether or not they are Finnish themselves.”
...Without this unique population — isolated and relatively genetically similar – the researchers estimate they would need to sequence the DNA of hundreds of thousands to millions of people to find these same associations, rather than the relatively manageable 20,000 individuals analyzed in this study.
Most Finns even look like Elves :-) Delicate, elf-like features. pic.twitter.com/FwF3Si0Sdd— Mirka (@M_Sighil) September 22, 2017
As a foreigner, I can immediately see different physical traits. The way I like to put it is that Swedes and Nowegians are more like Vikings, and Finns are definitely more like Elves.https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-physiological-differences-between-the-Finns-the-Scandinavians