For us Dutch, blue eyes are very common; we see them around us every day. We are used to the fact that eye colors in the Netherlands range from blue and green to brown. Worldwide, blue eyes are actually quite special, with only about 8-10% of the population having blue eyes.
Blue eyes are a relatively recent development in human genetics. Scientists believe that everyone who lived before the last ice age had brown eyes. The blue eye color emerged about 10,000 years ago as a result of genetic mutations and then spread through parts of Europe.
As for the genetic advantage of blue eyes, scientists do not agree. One theory suggests that blue eyes may be better adapted to the long, dark winters in Northern Europe because they possibly let in more light to the retina. Another theory suggests that blue eyes may have been a sexual selection—that is, individuals with blue eyes may have had more offspring because they were considered more attractive.
Time to look at the countries where the most people, percentage-wise, have blue eyes. There is no database that keeps track of this, so the data in this top 10 list are estimates.
According to some sources, Estonia is the country with the highest percentage of people with blue eyes in the world. It is even said that the percentage is 99%. That is definitely not true, especially due to the mixing of a lot of Slavic blood, but the percentage of blue eyes in Estonia is certainly high.
The top of the list of countries with blue eyes is dominated by the Scandinavian countries. An estimated 75% of the Finnish population has blue eyes, giving the country a strong second place in this ranking.
Iceland has a very homogeneous population, and a significant percentage of them have blue eyes. While exact figures are hard to find, it is estimated that about 75% of the Icelandic population has blue eyes.
Sweden is known for its blonde, blue-eyed inhabitants. This stereotype certainly has some truth, as nearly 70% of Swedes have blue eyes.
Denmark rounds out the top five with a high percentage of blue eyes. It is estimated that about 60% of the Danish population has blue eyes, earning this small Scandinavian country a spot on our list.
Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Norway also has a significant percentage of blue-eyed inhabitants. With about 60% of the population having this eye color, Norway certainly contributes to the blue-eyed dominance in the Scandinavian region.
7. The Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the non-Scandinavian countries with a high percentage of people with blue eyes. Exactly how high this percentage is is not known, but the estimate is around 60%.
Although Germany has a very diverse population, with a mix of ethnic groups and nationalities, the percentage of people with blue eyes is still relatively high. According to some sources, about 40% of the German population has blue eyes.
Scotland, with its rich history and culture, also has a high percentage of people with blue eyes. About 50% of Scots have this striking eye color, earning the country a spot on our top 10 list.
Last but not least, Ireland completes the top ten. While exact figures are hard to determine, it is estimated that about 50% of the Irish have blue eyes, earning Ireland a spot on this list.