Roma people

Roma people

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Roma

image_caption = Khamoro Roma Festival Prague 2007

flag_caption = Flag of the Roma people
pop = 15 million or more
region1 = flagcountry|IND
pop1 = 5,794,000
ref1 = lower| [cite web|url=|title=Banjara, Hindu of India|publisher=Joshua Project|accessdate=2007-10-03] [cite web |url= |title=Lambanis or Gypsies |publisher=Kamat |accessdate=2007-10-03]
region2 = flagcountry|Turkey
pop2 = Disputed:
700,000 (officially accepted number) or
3,000,000-5,000,000 (estimated)
ref2 = lower|No official count; estimate from [ "Reaching the Romanlar—A Feasibility Study Report"] (International Romani Studies Network), Istanbul: 2006, p.13. See also [ "Turkey: A Minority Policy of Systematic Negation"] (IHF report) and cite web |url= |title="AB ülkeleriyle ortak bir noktamız daha ÇİNGENELER" |accessmonthday=September 23 |accessyear=2006 |last=SERİN |first=Ayten |date=08-05-2005 |publisher=Hürriyet] [ [ There are an estimated 3 million to 5 million Roma in Turkey, "6/9/2008 The Christian Science Monitor] ] [ [ Türkiyedeki Kürtlerin Sayısı! (Number of Kurds in Turkey!)] : Bunların arasında çingeneler 700 binlik nüfusuyla başı çekiyor.]
region3 = flagcountry|Romania
pop3 = Disputed:
(official census)
Other estimations:
ref3 =lower| [cite web|title=2002 census: Population by ethnicity|language=Romanian|url=|accessdate=2007-08-26|notes=The 2002 census gives a total of 535,250 Roma in Romania. This figure is disputed by other sources, because at the local level, many Roma declare a different ethnicity (Romanian, but also especially Hungarian in the West and Turkish in Dobruja). International sources give higher figures than the official census.|format=PDF] [cite web|url=|title=Romii din România|language=Romanian|publisher=Centrul de Resurse pentru DiversitateEtnocultuală|accessdate=2007-08-26|format=PDF]
[cite web|url=,,contentMDK:20333806~menuPK:615999~pagePK:64168445~piPK:64168309~theSitePK:615987,00.html |publisher=World Bank|title=WORLD BANK INVOLVEMENT IN ROMA ISSUES|month=June|year=2006|accessdate=2007-08-26] [cite journal|url=|format=PDF| journal=Social Policy Journal of New Zealand|issue=25|year=2005|month=July|first=Chungui |last=Qiao |title=Iaos Satellite Meeting: Measuring Small And Indigenous Populations”]
[ [ Rumänien sieht Ende starker Auswanderung (Schweiz, NZZ Online) ] ]
region4 = flagcountry|Spain
pop4 = 600,000 to 800,000
or 1,500,000
ref4 = lower| [cite web|url=|publisher=U.S. Library of Congress|title=Spain - The Gypsies|accessdate=2007-08-26] [1,500,000 Roma estimated by the Society for Threatened Peoples [] ]
region5 = flagcountry|France
pop5 = 500,000 (official estimation)
to 1,200,000-1,300,000
ref5 = lower| [ [ Report by the European Roma Rights Centre] ] [ [ Full Report by the European Roma Rights Centre] ]
region6 = flagcountry|United States
pop6 = 1,000,000 (Roma organizations' estimations)
ref6 = lower| [ [ Estimation by SKOKRA (The Council of the Kumpanias and Organizations of the Americas) and Romani Union] ]
region7 = flagcountry|Hungary
pop7 = Disputed: 205,720 (official census);
Other estimations:
ref7 = lower| [ [ 2001 census Hungary] ] lower|11px| [cite news|title=Budapest Journal; A Real Voice, at Last, for Hungary's Pariah People|url=|work=The New York Times|date=2001-03-05] lower|17px| [cite book |publisher=DEMOS Hungary |title=Hungary's Strategic Audit 2005| page=45|year=2005 |isbn=9632190300 |url= |format=PDF |accessdate=2007-08-26] lower|11px| [cite web|title=PRESS CONFERENCE|url=|work=United Nations|date=2007-01-29]
[ [ Population Census 2001 – National and county data – Summary Data ] ] [ [ Hungary acknowledges the need for progress regarding its population of 500,000 to 1 million Roma, or Gypsies] ]

region8 = flagcountry|Brazil
pop8 = 678,000–900,000
ref8 = lower| [ [ Official data: 678,000]
[ 800,000 -1,000,000 in "The Rom of the Americas" (chapter Brazil), by Jorge M. Fernandez Bernal]

region9 = flagcountry|Bulgaria
pop9 = Disputed: 370,908 (official census) to 700,000–800,000
ref9 = lower| [ According to the last official census in 2001 370,908 Bulgarian citizens define their identity as Roma (official results [ here] ). 313,000 self-declared in 1992 census (Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov, "The Gypsies of Bulgaria: Problems of the Multicultural Museum Exhibition" (1995), cited in [ Patrin Web Journal] ). According to Marushiakova and Popov, "The Roma in Bulgaria", Sofia, 1993, the people who declared Roma identity in 1956 were about 194,000; in 1959, 214,167; in 1976, 373,200; because of the obvious and significant difference between the number of Bulgarian citizens with Roma self-identification and the percentage of the larger total population with a physical appearance and cultural particularity similar to Roma, in 1980 the authorities took special census of all people defined as Roma through the opinions of the neighbouring populations, using observations of their way of life, cultural specificity, etc. - 523,519; in the 1989 the authorities counted 576,927 people as Roma, but noted that more than a half of them preferred and declared Turkish identity (pages 92–93). According to the rough personal assumption of Marushiakova and Popov the total number of all people with Roma ethic identity plus all people of Roma origin with different ethnic self-identification around 1993 was about 800,000 (pages 94–95). Similar supposition Marushiakova and Popov made in 1995: estimate 750,000 ±50,000. Some international sources mention the estimates of some unnamed experts, who suggest 700,000–800,000 or higher than figures in the official census (UNDP's Regional Bureau for Europe). These mass non-Roma ethnic partialities are confirmed in the light of the last census in 2001—more than 300,000 Bulgarian citizens of Roma origin traditionally declare their ethnic identity as Turkish or Bulgarian. Other statistics: 450,000 estimated in 1990 ( [ U.S. Library of Congress study] ); at least 553,466 cited in a confidential census by the Ministry of the Interior in 1992 (cf Marushiakova and Popov 1995).]
region10 = flagcountry|Slovakia
pop10 = Disputed: 92,500 or 550,000
ref10 = lower| [cite web|url=|title=Slovakia seeks help on Roma issue|first=Fionnuala|last=Sweeney|date=2004-04-16|accessdate=2007-08-26|publisher=CNN] [cite web|url=|title=The CIA World Factbook: Slovakia|date=2007-08-16|accessdate=2007-08-26|publisher=Central Intelligence Agency]
region11 = flagcountry|Serbia
pop11 = Disputed: 108,193 (official census)
500,000 estimated (540,000 incl. Kosovo)
ref11 = lower|cite web|title=2002 census not including Kosovo|url=|publisher=UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-08-26]
region12 = flagcountry|Russia
pop12 = Disputed: 183,000
to 400,000
ref12 = lower| [cite web|url=||title=НАЦИОНАЛЬНЫЙ СОСТАВ НАСЕЛЕНИЯ (National Population - 2002 Russian Census)|accessdate=2007-08-26|language=Russian|note=recorded 182,766 Roma] cite book|first=Jean-Pierre|last=Liégeois|title=Roma, Tsiganes, Voiageurs|page=34|publisher=Conseil de l'Europe|year=1994|language=French|note=cites 220,000–400,000 Roma in Russia] [Independent estimates range from 5 to 6 million Roma in RussiaFact|date=February 2007.]
region13 = flagcountry|Greece
pop13 = Disputed: 200,000
or 300,000–350,000
ref13 = lower| [cite web |url=|title=The State of the Roma in Greece |publisher=Hellenic Republic - National Commission for Human Rights |date=2001-11-29 |accessdate=2007-08-26]
region14 = flagcountry|Ukraine
pop14 = 48,000 (census 2002); 400,000 (estimated by Roma organizations)
ref14 = lower| [ [ Ukrainian census 2002] ]
region15 = flagcountry|Argentina
pop15 = 300,000
ref15 = lower| [cite web|url=|title=Emerging Roma Voices from Latin America|date=2004-11-16|first=Druzhemira|last=Tchileva|publisher=European Roma Rights Centre]
[ [ Jorge M. Fernandez Bernal, "The Rom of the Americas" (chapter Argentina)] ]

region16 = flagcountry|Czech Republic
pop16 = Disputed: 11,746
or 220,000 to 300,000
ref16 = lower| [cite web|url=|language=Czech|title=Sčítaní lidu, domů a bytů 2001 (2001 census)|year=2005|accessdate=2007-08-26|publisher=Český statistický úřad] lower| [ [ By James Palmer] ]
region17 = flagcountry|Macedonia|name=Macedonia
pop17 = Disputed: 53,879
to 260,000
ref17 = lower| [cite web|notes=53,879|url=|title=Census of population, households and dwellings in the Republic of Macedonia, 2002|language=Macedonian, English|year=2005|month=May|publisher=Republic of Macedonia State Statistical Office|format=PDF]
region18 = flagcountry|Germany
pop18 = 110,000–130,000
ref18 = lower|
region19 = flagcountry|Albania
pop19 = Disputed: 1,300 to 120,000
ref19 = lower| [cite web|url=|format=Microsoft Word|publisher=Center for Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe - Southeast Europe (CEDIME-SE)|title=MINORITIES IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE: Roma of Albania|month=August|year=2000]
region20 = flagcountry|Iran
pop20 = 110,000
ref20 = lower| [cite web|url=|title=Iran Gypsy Population|publisher=Dom Research Center|accessdate=2007-08-26]
region21 = flagcountry|Italy
pop21 = 90,000–110,000
ref21 = lower|cite book|first=Jean-Pierre|last=Liégeois|title=Roma, Tsiganes, Voiageurs|page=34|publisher=Conseil de l'Europe|year=1994|language=French]
region22 = flagcountry|Canada
pop22 = 80,000
ref22 = lower|cite web|url= Roma in Canada fact sheet|title=ROMA IN CANADA|publisher=Roma Community Centre|first=Ronald|last=Lee|month=October|year=1998]
region23 = flagcountry|Colombia
pop23 = 79,000
ref23 = lower| [= Romani Vlax by country [] ]
region24 = flagcountry|Portugal
pop24 = 40,000
ref24 = lower| [The "Ciganos". Estimate by the [ European Roma Rights Centre] ]
region25 = flagcountry|Poland
pop25 = 15,000 to 50,000
ref25 = lower| [American studies of the Gypsies in Poland [] ]
region26 = .
pop26 = more countries
ref26 = .
languages = Romany, languages of native region
religions = Romanipen, combined with assimilations from local religions
related-c = South Asians (Desi)

The Romani people [Hancock, Ian, 2001, Ame sam e rromane džene / We are the Romani People, The Open Society Institute, New York, page 2] [Matras, Yaron, Romani: A linguistic introduction, Cambridge University Press, 2002, page 5] (singular Rom, plural Roma as a noun; also known as Romanies or Roma peopleDisputed-inline) are an ethnic group with origins in South Asia. [cite book
title=Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies (Romanies)
publisher=Scarecrow Press
] [ [ The History and Origin of the Roma] ] The Romani people are a widely dispersed ethnic group, with the largest concentrated populations in Europe and the Americas. [ [ The Roma of Eastern Europe: Still Searching for Inclusion] ] [Hancock, Ian, 2001, Ame sam e rromane džene / We are the Romani People, The Open Society Institute, New York, page xx] They are often referred to as Gypsies or Gipsies.


"Rom" (plural "Roma") is a noun] which means married man or husband. Some Romanies use it as an ethnic name, while others (such as the Sinti or the Romanichals, etc.) do not use this term as a self-ascription for the entire ethnic group.] The term is used as a designation for the branch found in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, as well as a generic term for all the branches.Citation | title = Les Roms, une nation sans territoire? | url = | accessdate = 2008-07-31] "Romani" (or "Romany") can be both an adjective and a noun.] All Romanies use the word "Romani" as an adjective. For this reason, the term began to be used as a noun for the entire ethnic group.]

Today, the term "Romani" is used by most organizations—including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the US Library of Congress.] However, some organizations use the term "Roma" to refer to Romani people around the world.Citation | title = We Are the Romani People, Pg XIX | url =,M1 | accessdate = 2008-07-31] Since Roma is a noun, it is technically incorrect to be used as an adjective as in "Roma language" or "Roma diplomacy", although it is often used in this way. The correct forms would be: "Romani language" or "Romani diplomacy"Citation | title = We Are the Romani People, Pg XX | url =,M1 | accessdate = 2008-07-31] Citation | title = Roma diplomacy, Pg 16 | url =,M1 | accessdate = 2008-07-31] Sometimes, "Rom" and "Romani" are spelled with a double "r", i.e., "Rrom" and "Rromani", particularly in Romania in order to distinguish from the Romanian endonym ("români"). This is well established in Romani itself, since it represents a sound different from the one written with a single "r".Citation | title = We Are the Romani People, Pg XXI | url =,M1 | accessdate = 2008-07-31]


Most Roma refer to themselves as "rom" or "rrom", depending on the dialect. The word means "husband", "romni"/"rromni" meaning "wife", while the unmarried are named "čhavo" ("boy") (pronounced|cʰaʋo) or "čhej" ("girl"). There are no historical proofs to clarify the etymology of these words. More theories have been proposed:
#Rom might come from old Indo-Aryan "rama", which means "husband", the meaning that was kept in Romani itself.Citation
title = We Are the Romani People, pg 14
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-23
#Rom might come from Dom, the name of an ethnic group of Indian origins from the Middle East, that some authors believe to be related to Roma. However, it should be noted that in the Domari language Dom means "man" and not "husband". [ [ The Institute for Middle East Understanding] [ Online Etymology Dictionary - "Douglas Harper"]
#The ethnonym Rom might have been acquired in the Byzantine Empire where the local people called themselves Romaioi ("Romans" in Greek).Citation
title = Gypsies - Pariahs on the Danube or the Latest P.C. Minority?
url =
accessdate = 2008-06-23
#Another theory proposes that the word Rom might have come from "ramta" (wandering).Citation | title = Romany Origins and Migration Patterns | url = | accessdate = 2008-06-23]

The word "Rom" (plural "Roma") is a noun, "Romani" is an adjective, while "Romanes" is an adverb (meaning, roughly, "in the Romani way"). The language is called the "Romani language" or "Romanes". In the Romani language, the adjective is created by attaching suffixes to the root that express gender and number: "Romani" (f. sing.), "Romano (m. sing.) and "Romane" (m. & f. pl.). Usually in English only the feminine singular form is used, but they may also appear in the other forms.Fact|date=May 2008 "Romanes" is created by attaching the suffix "-es", usually employed for adverbs. [cite book|first=Ian|last=Hancock|title=A Handbook of Vlax Romani|publisher=Slavica Publishers|year=1995|pages=104, 154|isbn=978-0893572587] The use of the word "Romanes" in English as a noun is incorrect [cite book|first=Ian|last=Hancock|title=Ame Sam e Rromane Džene/We are the Romani people|page=3|isbn=1902806190] .

The English term "Gypsy" (or "Gipsy") originates from the Greek word "Αιγύπτοι" ("Aigyptoi"), modern Greek "γύφτοι" ("gyphtoi"), in the erroneous belief that the Roma originated in Egypt, and were exiled as punishment for allegedly harboring the infant Jesus.Fraser 1992.] If used, this exonym should also be written with capital letter, to show that it is about an ethnic group. [cite book|first=Ian|last=Hancock|title=A Handbook of Vlax Romani|publisher=Slavica Publishers|year=1995|pages=17] As described in Victor Hugo's novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", the medieval French referred to the Roma as "egyptiens". This ethnonym is not used by the Roma to describe themselves, and is often considered pejorative (as is the term "gyp" meaning "to cheat", a reference to the suspicion the Roma engendered). However, the use of the word "Gypsy" in the English has now become so pervasive that many Roma organizations use it in their own organizational names. In North America, the word "Gypsy" is commonly used as a reference to lifestyle or fashion, and not to the Roma ethnicity. The Spanish term "gitano" and the French term "gitan" may have the same origin.cite web|url=|publisher=Dictionnaire de l'Académie française|accessdate=2007-08-26|language=French|quote=Nom donné aux bohémiens d'Espagne ; par ext., synonyme de Bohémien, Tzigane. Adjt. Une robe gitane.|title=gitan]

In much of continental Europe, Roma are known by names similar to the Hungarian "cigány" (pronounced|ˈtsiɡaːɲ), which early Byzantine literature derived from the Greek "ατσίγγανοι" ("atsinganoi", Latin "adsincani"), applied to Roma during Byzantine times, [cite web|url=|title=A Brief History of the Rom|first=Karina |last=Bates|accessdate=2007-08-26] or from the Greek term "αθίγγανοι" ("athinganoi") [cite journal|url=|title=Book Reviews|format=PDF|journal=Population Studies|volume=48|issue=2|month=July|year=1994|pages=365–372|doi=10.1080/0032472031000147856 | author = Not Available Not Available] meaning literally 'untouchables' Fact|date=September 2008, in reference to a 9th-century heretical sect that had been accused of practising magic and fortune-telling. [cite journal|url=|title=Metal-workers, agriculturists, acrobats, military-people and fortune-tellers: Roma (Gypsies) in and around the Byzantine empire|first=Karin|last=White|year=1999|journal=Golden Horn|volume=7|issue=2|accessdate=2007-08-26] In modern Greek, aside from the singular term "Rom" ("Ρομ"), the terms "gyphtoi" (Greek:"γύφτοι") and "tsinganoi" (Greek:"τσιγγάνοι") are interchangeable and both are used when referring to the Roma. "Bosha" is Armenian and GeorgianFact|date=September 2008 word for Roma (pl. "boshebi").

Because many Roma living in France had come via Bohemia, they were also referred to as "Bohémiens". [cite book |last=Achim |first=Viorel |title=The Roma in Romanian History |year=2004 |publisher=Central European University Press |location=Budapest |isbn=9789639241848 |oclc=54529869 |pages=p. 11 ] This would later be adapted to describe the impoverished artistic lifestyle of Bohemianism.Fact|date=August 2008

Outside Europe, Roma are referred to by more varied names, such as "Kowli" ("کولی") in Iran and Iraq ; "Lambani", "Labana" "Lambadi", "Rabari" or "Banjara" in India; "Ghajar" ("غجر"),"Salab" ("صلب") or "Nawar" ("نور") in Arabic. In Arabic, these three words distinguish entertainment Roma: "Ghajar" or "Salab", from trade Roma "Nawar", "Nawar" is also used as a pejorative term to mean "vulgar", or "low" in North Levantine Arabic, and are used as insults. The other term, "Ghajar" does not hold any pejorative connotations. They are also called "tzo'anim" "צוענים" in Hebrew (after an ancient city in Egypt and the biblical verb "צען" unicode|ṣā‛an, roaming).


thumb|400px|The Roma in Southern European states (official data)">
----legend|#696969|No official data available
Worldwide there is an estimated population of at least 15 million Roma [Estimated population fromadding the sourced population numbers from the article Romani people by country. Note that some countries with Roma populations are not included, where reliable sources could not be found, and that many of the sources are outdated or supply only partial information about Roma groups in a certain country.] . The official number of Roma people is disputed in many countries. [ [ European effort spotlights plight of the Roma] ] Because many Roma often refuse to register their ethnic identity in official censuses for fear of discrimination [cite web|url=|title=It Now Suits the EU to Help the Roma|date=2004-09-29|first=Marian|last=Chiriac|] , unofficial estimates are undertaken in efforts to reveal their true numbers. The largest Roma population is found in the Balkan peninsula; significant numbers also live in the Americas, the former Soviet Union, Western Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The Roma recognize divisions among themselves based in part on territorial, cultural and dialectal differences. The main branches are [Hancock, Ian, 2001, Ame sam e rromane džene / We are the Romani People, The Open Society Institute, New York, page 2] [Matras, Yaron, Romani: A linguistic introduction, Cambridge University Press, 2002, page 5] :

# Roma, crystallized in Eastern Europe and Central Italy, emigrated also (mostly from the 19th century onwards), in the rest of Europe, but also on the other continents;
# Iberian Kale, in Iberian Peninsula, emigrated also in Southern France and Latin America;
# Finnish Kale, in Finland, emigrated also in Sweden;
# Welsh Kale, in Wales;
# Romnichal, in the United Kingdom, emigrated also to the United States and Australia;
# Sinti, in German-speaking areas of Central Europe;
# Manouche, in French-speaking areas of Central Europe [ [ N.Bessonov, N.Demeter "Ethnic groups of Gypsies"] ] ;
# Dom, in Israel and Arabic-speaking countries of Asia and Africa. [ [ A.Kornilov, Y.Balashov, A.Nikitin, S.Davtyan "Ethnic and confessional minorities in Muslim countries: problems of developement and interaction with dominating population"] ]

Among Roma there are further internal differentiations, like Bashaldé; Churari; Luri; Ungaritza; Lovari (Lovara) from Hungary; Machvaya (Machavaya, Machwaya, or Macwaia) from Serbia; Romungro (Modyar or Modgar) from Hungary and neighbouring carpathian countries; Erlides (also "Yerlii" or "Arli"); Xoraxai (Horahane) from Greece/Turkey; Boyash (Lingurari, Ludar, Ludari, Rudari, or Zlătari) from Romanian/Moldovan miners; Ursari from Romanian/Moldovan bear-trainers; Argintari from silversmiths; Aurari from goldsmiths; Florari from florists; and Lăutari from singers.


The absence of a written history has meant that the origin and early history of the Roma people was long an enigma. As early as 200 years ago, cultural scholars hypothesised an Indian origin of the Roma based on linguistic evidence [cite book
title=Gypsies (Peoples of Europe)
edition=2nd edition
first=Angus |last=Fraser
publisher=Blackwell, Oxford
] . Genetic information confirms this.

Although the Nazis claimed that the Gypsies were not Aryan,Fact|date=August 2008 some members of the Gypsy Lore Society (established in 1888 in England) claimed that the Gypsies were the most ancient Aryans and "sought to protect them from mixing with non-Gypsy elements and from modernization...". [ P. 17 " [ Germany and Its Gypsies: A Post-Auschwitz Ordeal] " By Gilad Margalit ]

Linguistic evidence

Until the mid to late eighteenth century, theories of the origin of the Roma were mostly speculative. Then in 1782, Johann Christian Christoph Rüdiger published his research that pointed out the relationship between the Romani language and Hindustani. [cite web
title=On the Indic Language and Origin of the Gypsies
author=Johann Christian Christoph Rüdiger
] Subsequent work supported the hypothesis that Romani shared a common origin with the Indo-Aryan languages of Northern India, [cite web
first=Dieter W. |last=Halwachs
title=Romani - An Attempting Overview
] with Romani grouping most closely with Sinhalese in a recent study. [cite web
author=Gray, R.D. and Atkinson, Q.D.
title=Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin

The majority of historians accepted this as evidence of an Indian origin for the Roma, but some maintained that the Roma acquired the language through contact with Indian merchants. [cite web
author=Christina Wells
title=Introduction to Gypsies
publisher=University of North Texas

Genetic evidence

Further evidence for the Indian origin of the Roma came in the late 1990s when it was discovered that Roma populations carried large frequencies of particular Y chromosomes (inherited paternally) and mitochondrial DNA (inherited maternally) that otherwise exist only in populations from South Asia.

47.3% of Roma men carry Y chromosomes of haplogroup H-M82 which is otherwise rare outside of the Indian subcontinent.cite journal
title=A Newly Discovered Founder Population: The Roma/Gypsies
author=Kalaydjieva, L. |coauthors=Morar, B.; Chaix, R. and Tang, H.
journal=BioEssays |volume=27 |year=2005 |pages=1084–1094
] Mitochondrial haplogroup M, most common in Indian subjects and rare outside Southern Asia, accounts for nearly 30% of Roma people. A more detailed study of Polish Roma shows this to be of the M5 lineage, which is specific to India [cite journal
doi= 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2005.00222.x
title=Mitochondrial DNA Diversity in the Polish Roma
author=Malyarchuk, B.A.; Grzybowski, T.; Derenko, M.V.; Czarny, J. and Miscicka-Slivvka, D. (2006)
journal=Annals of Human Genetics|volume=70|pages=195–206
] Moreover, a form of the inherited disorder congenital myasthenia is found in Romani subjects. This form of the disorder, caused by the 1267delG mutation, is otherwise only known in subjects of Indian ancestry. This is considered to be the best evidence of the Indian ancestry of the Romanies.Citation |title=Mutation history of the Roma-Gypsies |url= |accessdate=2008-06-16]

The Roma have been described as "a conglomerate of genetically isolated founder populations",cite journal |title=Genetic studies of the Roma (Gypsies): A review |url= |accessdate=2008-06-16 |doi=10.1186/1471-2350-2-5 |year=2001 |last=Kalaydjieva |first=Luba |journal=BMC Medical Genetics |volume=2 |pages=5 ] while a number of common Mendelian disorders among Romanies from all over Europe indicates "a common origin and founder effect". See also this table: []

A study from 2001 by Gresham et al. suggests "a limited number of related founders, compatible with a small group of migrants splitting from a distinct caste or tribal group".Citation |title=Origins and Divergence of the Roma (Gypsies) |url= |accessdate=2008-06-16 |pmid=11704928 ] Also the study pointed out that "genetic drift and different levels and sources of admixture, appear to have played a role in the subsequent differentiation of populations". The same study found that "a single lineage ... found across Romani populations, accounts for almost one-third of Romani males. A similar preservation of a highly resolved male lineage has been reported elsewhere only for Jewish priests". See also the Cohen Modal Haplotype.

A 2004 study by Morar et al. concluded that the Roma are "a founder population of common origins that has subsequently split into multiple socially divergent and geographically dispersed Gypsy groups". The same study revealed that this population "was founded approximately 32–40 generations ago, with secondary and tertiary founder events occurring approximately 16–25 generations ago".


Linguistic and genetic evidence indicates the Roma originated from the Indian subcontinent. [cite web|url=|title=Gypsies — the dalits of European continent|publisher=The Hindu|date=2005-11-17|first=D.|last=Balasubramanian|accessdate=2007-08-26] The cause of the Roma diaspora is unknown. However, the most probable conclusion is that the Roma were part of the military in Northern India. When there were repeated raids by Mahmud of Ghazni and these soldiers were defeated, they were moved west with their families into the Byzantine Empire. This occurred between 1000 and 1050 AD. This departure date is assumed because, linguistically speaking, the Romany language is a New Indo-Aryan language (NIA)--it has only two genders (masculine and feminine). Until around the year 1000, the Indo-Aryan languages, named Middle Indo-Aryan (MIA), had three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter). By the turn of the 2nd millennium they changed into the NIA phase, losing the neuter gender. Most of the neuter nouns became masculine while a few feminine, like the neuter अग्नि (agni) in the Prakrit became the feminine आग (āg) in Hindi and "jag" in Romany. The parallels in grammatical gender evolution between Romany and other NIA languages is proposed to prove that the change occurred in the Indian subcontinent. It is therefore not considered possible that the Romas' ancestors left India prior to 1000 AD. They then stayed in the Byzantine Empire for several hundred years. However, the Muslim expansion, mainly made by the Seljuk Turks, into the Byzantine Empire recommenced the movement of the Roma people. [cite book|first=Vagish |last=Shastri|title=Migration of Aryans from India|publisher=Yogic Voice Consciousness Institute|location=Varanasi|year=2007]

The Banjara people, numbering around 2,274,000 in India, [cite web|url=|title=Banjara, Hindu of India|publisher=Joshua Project|accessdate=2007-10-03] are Gypsies [cite web|url=|title=Lambanis or Gypsies|publisher=Kamat|accessdate=2007-10-03] who claim that they, too, are descended from the Rajputs, and that many of their ancestors left India through the Himalayas and never returned. For this reason, the Banjara are considered related to the Romani people. [cite book|first=Ian|last=Hancock|title=Ame Sam e Rromane Džene/We are the Romani people|page=13|isbn=1902806190] .

Others suggest the Roma were originally low-caste Hindus recruited into an army of mercenaries, granted warrior caste status, and sent westward to resist Islamic military expansion.Fact|date=July 2008 In either case, upon arrival, they became a distinct community. Why the Roma did not return to India, choosing instead to travel west into Europe, is an enigma, but may relate to military service under the Muslims.

Contemporary scholars have suggested that one of the first written references to the Roma, under the term "Atsinganoi", (Greek), dates from the Byzantine era during a time of famine in the 9th century. In 800 AD, Saint Athanasia gave food to "foreigners called the Atsinganoi" near Thrace. Later, in 803 AD, Theophanes the Confessor wrote that Emperor Nikephoros I had the help of the "Atsinganoi" to put down a riot with their "knowledge of magic".

"Atsingani" was used to refer to itinerant fortune tellers, ventriloquists and wizards who visited the Emperor Constantine IX in the year 1054. [cite web|url=|title=The Lost Tribes of India|first=Jeetan|last=Sareen|accessdate=2007-08-26|publisher=Kuviyam] The hagiographical text, "The Life of St. George the Anchorite," mentions that the "Atsingani" were called on by Constantine to help rid his forests of the wild animals which were killing his livestock. They are later described as sorcerers and evildoers and accused of trying to poison the Emperor's favorite hound.

In 1322 AD a Franciscan monk named Simon Simeonis described people resembling these "atsinganoi" living in Crete and in 1350 AD Ludolphus of Sudheim mentioned a similar people with a unique language whom he called "Mandapolos", a word which some theorize was possibly derived from the Greek word "mantes" (meaning prophet or fortune teller). [cite newsgroup
title = gypsies
author = Linda Anfuso
date= 1994-02-24
newsgroup =
id =
url =
accessdate = 2007-08-26

Around 1360, an independent Romani fiefdom (called the "Feudum Acinganorum") was established in Corfu and became "a settled community and an important and established part of the economy." [cite web|title=A Chronology of significant dates in Romani history|archiveurl=|archivedate=2004-12-04|url=]

By the 14th century, the Roma had reached the Balkans; by 1424 AD, Germany; and by the 16th century, Scotland and Sweden. Some Roma migrated from Persia through North Africa, reaching the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century. The two currents met in France. Roma began immigrating to the United States in colonial times, with small groups in Virginia and French Louisiana. Larger-scale immigration began in the 1860s, with groups of Romnichal from Britain. The largest number immigrated in the early 1900s, mainly from the Vlax group of Kalderash. Many Roma also settled in South America.

When the Roma people arrived in Europe, curiosity was soon followed by hostility and xenophobia. Roma were enslaved for five centuries in Wallachia and Moldavia until abolition in 1856. [Hancock, Ian, 2001, Ame sam e rromane džene / We are the Romani People, The Open Society Institute, New York, page 25] Elsewhere in Europe, they were subject to ethnic cleansing, abduction of their children, and forced labor. During World War II, the Nazis murdered 200,000 to 800,000 Roma in an attempted genocide known as the "Porajmos". They were marked for extermination and sentenced to forced labor and imprisonment in concentration camps. They were often killed on sight, especially by the Einsatzgruppen (essentially mobile killing units) on the Eastern Front.

In Communist Eastern Europe, Roma experienced assimilation schemes and restrictions of cultural freedom. The Romany language and Romani music were banned from public performance in Bulgaria. In Czechoslovakia, they were labeled a "socially degraded stratum," and Roma women were sterilized as part of a state policy to reduce their population. This policy was implemented with large financial incentives, threats of denying future welfare payments, with misinformation, or after administering drugs (Silverman 1995; Helsinki Watch 1991). An official inquiry from the Czech Republic, resulting in a report (December 2005), concluded that the Communist authorities had practised an assimilation policy towards Roma, which "included efforts by social services to control the birth rate in the Romani community" and that "the problem of sexual sterilisation carried out in the Czech Republic, either with improper motivation or illegally, exists" [cite news|date=2007-03-12|first=Marina |last=Denysenko|url=|title=Sterilised Roma accuse Czechs|publisher=BBC News|] , with new revealed cases up until 2004, in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. [cite web|url= |title=Coercive Sterilization of Romani Women Examined at Hearing: New report focuses on Czech Republic and Slovakia|first=Jeffrey|last=Thomas|date=2006-08-16|work=Washington File|publisher=Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State]

In the early 1990s, Germany deported tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to Eastern Europe. Sixty percent of some 100,000 Romanian nationals deported under a 1992 treaty were Roma.Fact|date=April 2008 In Norway, many Roma were forcibly sterilized by the state until 1977. [cite news|url=|title=The eternal minority|publisher="New Internationalist"|author=Eleanor Harding|date=January 2008|accessdate-2008-04-15] [Citation|url=,M1|title=The Nordic peace|contribution=The non-autonomous minority groups in the Nordic countries|last=Hannikainen|first=Lauri|last2=Åkermark|first2=Sia Spiliopoulou|pages=171–197|editor-last=Clive|editor-first=Archer|editor2-last=Joenniemi|editor2-first=Pertti|location=Aldershot|publisher=Ashgate]

In May 2008 Roma camps in Naples, Italy were attacked and set on fire by local residents. [cite web|url= |title=Italy condemned for 'racism wave'|first=Unknown|last=Unknown|date=2008-05-28|work=BBC News|publisher=BBC]

In July 2008, the Italian government began fingerprinting all Roma, including children, whether or not they are Italian citizens. The government claimed fingerprinting would cut crime, avoid children being used for begging and help identify illegal immigrants for expulsion. []

ociety and culture

The traditional Roma place a high value on the extended family. Virginity is essential in unmarried women. Both men and women often marry young; there has been controversy in several countries over the Roma practice of child marriage. Roma law establishes that the man’s family must pay a bride price to the bride's parents, but only traditional families still follow this rule.

Once married, the woman joins the husband's family where her main job is to tend to her husband's and her children's needs, and to take care of the in-laws as well. The power structure in the traditional Roma household has at its top the oldest man or grandfather, and men in general have more authority than women. As women get older, however, they gain respect and authority in the eyes of the community. Young wives begin gaining authority once they mother children.

Roma social behaviour is strictly regulated by Hindu purity laws ("marime" or "marhime"), still respected by most Roma and among Sinti groups by the older generations. This regulation affects many aspects of life, and is applied to actions, people and things: parts of the human body are considered impure: the genital organs (because they produce emissions) as well as the rest of the lower body. Fingernails and toenails must be filed with an emery board, as cutting them with a clipper is a taboo. Clothes for the lower body, as well as the clothes of menstruating women, are washed separately. Items used for eating are also washed in a different place. Childbirth is considered impure, and must occur outside the dwelling place. The mother is considered impure for forty days after giving birth. Death is considered impure, and affects the whole family of the dead, who remain impure for a period of time. However, in contrast to the practice of cremating the dead, Roma dead must be buried. [cite web|url=|title=Romani Customs and Traditions: Death Rituals and Customs|accessdate=2007-08-26|publisher=Patrin Web Journal] Cremation and burial are both known from the time of the Rigveda, and both are widely practiced in Hinduism today (although the tendency for higher caste groups is to burn, for lower caste groups in South India to bury their dead) [cite web|url=|title=The Journey of a Lifebody|accessdate=2008-05-26|author=David M. Knipe] . Some animals are also considered impure, for instance cats because they lick themselves [Hancock, Ian, 2001, Ame sam e rromane džene / We are the Romani People, The Open Society Institute, New York, page 81] and mix the impure outside with their pure inside Fact|date=February 2008.


The Roma people still in India, by the largest numbers than elsewhere, maintain the Hindu religion. [] In stark contrast those who left the subcontinent have converted to Christianity or Islam.

These migrant Roma populations have usually adopted the dominant religion of the host country while often preserving aspects of their particular belief systems and indigenous religion and worship. Most Eastern European Roma are Catholic, Orthodox Christian or Muslim. Those in western Europe and the United States are mostly Roman Catholic or Protestant. In Turkey, Egypt, and the southern Balkans, the Roma are split into Christian and Muslim populations.

In addition, Evangelical Romany churches exist today in every country where Roma are settled.Fact|date=July 2008 The movement is particularly strong in France and Spain; there are more than one thousand Roma churches (known as Filadelfia Evangelical Church) in Spain, with almost one hundred in Madrid alone. In Germany, the most numerous group is that of Polish Roma, having their main church in Mannheim. Other important and numerous Romany assemblies exist in Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Mexico City. Some groups in Romania and Chile have joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In the Balkans, the Roma of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania have been particularly active in Islamic mystical brotherhoods (Sufism). Muslim Roma immigrants to western Europe and America have brought these traditions with them.Fact|date=February 2007


Roma music plays an important role in Eastern European countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Vardar Macedonia), Albania, Hungary, Russia, and Romania, and the style and performance practices of Roma musicians have influenced European classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. The "lăutari" who perform at traditional Romanian weddings are virtually all Roma. Probably the most internationally prominent contemporary performers in the "lăutar" tradition are Taraful Haiducilor. Bulgaria's popular "wedding music," too, is almost exclusively performed by Roma musicians such as Ivo Papasov, a virtuoso clarinetist closely associated with this genre and Bulgarian pop-folk singer Azis. Many famous classical musicians, such as the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra, are Roma, as are many prominent performers of manele. Zdob şi Zdub, one of the most prominent rock bands in Moldova, although not Roma themselves, draw heavily on Roma music, as do Spitalul de Urgenţă in Romania, Goran Bregović in Serbia, Darko Rundek in Croatia, Beirut and Gogol Bordello in the United States.

Another tradition of Roma music is the genre of the Gypsy brass band, with such notable practitioners as Boban Marković of Serbia, and the brass "lăutari" groups Fanfare Ciocărlia and Fanfare din Cozmesti of Romania.

The distinctive sound of Roma music has also strongly influenced bolero, jazz, and flamenco (especially "cante jondo") in Europe. European-style Gypsy jazz is still widely practised among the original creators (the Roma People); one who acknowledged this artistic debt was guitarist Django Reinhardt. Contemporary artists in this tradition known internationally include Stochelo Rosenberg, Biréli Lagrène, Jimmy Rosenberg, and Tchavolo Schmitt.

The Roma of Turkey have achieved musical acclaim from national and local audiences. Local performers usually perform for special holidays. Their music is usually performed on instruments such as the darbuka and gırnata. A number of nationwide best seller performers are said to be of Roma origin.Fact|date=February 2008


Most Roma speak one of several dialects of Romany [cite web
title=Speakers and Numbers (distribution of Romani-speaking Roma population by country)
author=Dieter W. Halwachs
] , an Indo-Aryan language. They also will often speak the languages of the countries they live in. Typically, they also incorporate loanwords and calques into Romani from the languages of those countries, especially words for terms that the Romani language does not have. Most of the "Ciganos" of Portugal, the Gitanos of Spain and the Romnichal of the UK, have lost their knowledge of pure Romani, and respectively speak the patois languages Caló [cite book|url=|title=Caló: A language of Spain|publisher=SIL International|last=Gordon|first=Raymond G., Jr. (ed.)|year=2005|work=Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition|location=Dallas, Texas|isbn=978-1-55671-159-6] and Angloromany. Roma of the Iberian Peninsula, however, mostly speak the languages of their countries.

There are independent groups currently working toward standardizing the language, including groups in Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, the USA, and Sweden. Romany is not currently spoken in India.Fact|date=May 2008


Historical persecution

The first and one of the most enduring persecutions against the Roma people was the enslaving of the Roma who arrived on the territory of the historical Romanian states of Wallachia and Moldavia, which lasted from the 14th century until the second half of the 19th century. Legislation decreed that all the Roma living in these states, as well as any others who would immigrate there, were slaves. [cite book|title=Istoria şi tradiţiile minorităţii rromani|page=36|year=2005|publisher=Sigma|location=Bucharest|author=Delia Grigore, Petre Petcuţ and Mariana Sandu|language=Romanian]

The arrival of some branches of the Roma people in Western Europe in the 15th century was precipitated by the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Although the Roma themselves were refugees from the conflicts in southeastern Europe, they were mistaken by the local population in the West, because of their foreign appearance, as part of the Ottoman invasion (the German Reichstags at Landau and Freiburg in 1496-1498 declared the Roma as spies of the Turks). In Western Europe, this resulted in a violent history of persecution and attempts of ethnic cleansing until the modern era. As time passed, other accusations were added against local Roma (accusations specific to this area, against non-assimilated minorities), like that of bringing the plague, usually sharing their burden together with the local Jews.cite web|url=|publisher=Patrin Web Journal|title=Timeline of Romani History|accessdate=2007-08-26]

Later in the 19th century, Roma immigration was forbidden on a racial basis in areas outside Europe, mostly in the English speaking world (in 1885 the United States outlawed the entry of the Roma) and also in some South American countries (in 1880 Argentina adopted a similar policy).


The persecution of the Roma reached a peak during World War II in the "Porajmos", the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In 1935, the Nuremberg laws stripped the Roma people living in Nazi Germany of their citizenship, after which they were subjected to violence, imprisonment in concentration camps and later genocide in extermination camps. The policy was extended in areas occupied by the Nazis during the war, and it was also applied by their allies, notably the Independent State of Croatia, Romania and Hungary.

Because no accurate pre-war census figures exist for the Roma, it is impossible to accurately assess the actual number of victims. Ian Hancock, director of the Program of Romani Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, proposes a figure of up to a million and a half, while an estimate of between 220,000 and 500,000 was made by the late Sybil Milton, formerly senior historian of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. [Most estimates for numbers of Roma victims of the Holocaust fall between 200,000 and 500,000, although figures ranging between 90,000 and 4 million have been proposed. Lower estimates do not include those killed in all Axis-controlled countries. A detailed study by the late Sybil Milton, formerly senior historian at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum gave a figure of at least a minimum of 220,000, probably higher, possibly closer to 500,000 (cited in [ Re. Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks) Special Master's Proposals, September 11, 2000] ). Ian Hancock, Director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, argues in favour of a higher figure of between 500,000 and 1,500,000 in his 2004 article, [ Romanies and the Holocaust: A Reevaluation and an Overview] as published in Stone, D. (ed.) (2004) The Historiography of the Holocaust. Palgrave, Basingstoke and New York.] . In Central Europe, the extermination in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was so thorough that the Bohemian Romany language became totally extinct.


In the Habsburg Monarchy under Maria Theresia (1740-1780), a series of decrees tried to force the Roma to sedentarize, removed rights to horse and wagon ownership (1754), renamed them as "New Citizens" and forced Roma boys into military service if they had no trade (1761), forced them to register with the local authorities (1767), and prohibited marriage between Roma (1773). Her successor Josef II prohibited the wearing of traditional Roma clothing and the use of the Romany language, punishable by flogging.

In Spain, attempts to assimilate the Gitanos were under way as early as 1619, when Gitanos were forcibly sedentarized, the use of the Romany language was prohibited, Gitano men and women were sent to separate workhouses and their children sent to orphanages. Similar prohibitions took place in later in 1783 under King Charles III, who prohibited the nomadic lifestyle, the use of the Calo language, Romani clothing, their trade in horses and other itinerant trades. Ultimately these measures failed, as the rest of the population rejected the integration of the Gitanos.cite web
title=Maria Theresia and Joseph II: Policies of Assimilation in the Age of Enlightened Absolutism.
publisher=Karl-Franzens-Universitaet Graz
work= [ Rombase]
year=2001 |month=December
first=Helmut |last=Samer
] [cite web
title=Gitanos. History and Cultural Relations.
publisher= [ World Culture Encyclopedia]

Other examples of forced assimilation include Norway, where a law was passed in 1896 permitting the state to remove children from their parents and place them in state institutions [cite web
title=Roma (Gypsies) in Norway
] . This resulted in some 1,500 Roma children being taken from their parents in the 20th century [cite web
title=The Church of Norway and the Roma of Norway
publisher=World Council of Churches
] .

Contemporary issues

Central and Eastern Europe

The practice of placing Roma students in segregated schools or classes remains widespread in countries across Central and Eastern Europe. In Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, many Roma children have been channeled into all-Roma schools that offer inferior quality education and are sometimes in poor physical condition, or into segregated all-Roma or predominantly Roma classes within mixed schools.cite web
year = 2007
format = PDF
url =
title = Equal access to quality education for Roma, Volume 1
pages = pp. 18-20, 187, 212-213, 358-361
publisher = Open Society Institute - EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program (EUMAP)
] In Hungary and Bulgaria, many Roma children are sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities, regardless of whether such classes are appropriate for the children in question or not. In Bulgaria, they are also sent to so-called "delinquent schools", where a variety of human rights abuses take place.

Despite the low birth rate in the country, Bulgaria's Health Ministry was considering a law aimed at lowering the birth rate of certain minority groups, particularly the Roma, due to the high mortality rate among Roma families, which are typically large. This was later abandoned due to conflict with EU law and the Bulgarian constitution. [cite web|url=|title=Women’s reproductive rights and right to family life interferance by the Health Minister|date=2006-10-11|first=Ivan|last=Ivanov|publisher=Social Rights Bulgaria]

Roma in European population centers are often accused of crimes such as pickpocketing. This is a regular justification for anti-Ziganist persecution. In 1899, the "Nachrichtendienst in Bezug auf die Zigeuner" ("Intelligence Service Regarding the Gypsies") was set up in Munich under the direction of Alfred Dillmann, cataloguing data on all Roma individuals throughout the German lands. It did not officially close down until 1970. The results were published in 1905 in Dillmann’s "Zigeuner-Buch" [cite book|first=Alfred|last=Dillmann|title=Zigeuner-Buch|location=Munich|publisher=Wildsche|year=1905|language=German] , that was used in the next years as justification for the Porajmos. It described the Roma people as a "plague" and a "menace", but almost exclusively presented as "Gypsy crime" trespassing and the theft of food. A UN study [cite book|title=Avoiding the Dependence Tr
url=|isbn=92-1-126153-8|publisher=United Nations Development Programme|month=December|year=2002|first=Andrey|last=Ivanov|chapter=7
] found that Roma in Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria are arrested for robbery at a much higher rate than other groups. Amnesty International [cite web|title=Anti-Roma racism in Europe|first=Julie|last=Denesha|publisher=Amnesty International|url=|year=2002|month=February|accessdate=2007-08-26] and Roma groups such as the Union Romani blame widespread police and government racism and persecution. [cite web|title=Rromani People: Present Situation in Europe|url=|publisher=Union Romani|accessdate=2007-08-26] In July 2008, a Business Week feature found the region's Roma population to be a "missed economic opportunity." []


The country is home to about 150,000, who live mainly in squalid conditions on the outskirts of major cities such as Rome, Milan and Naples. They amount to less than 0.3 per cent of the population, one of the lowest proportions in Europe. In general, the ethnic group lives apart and is often blamed for petty theft and burglaries. [ [] ]

On July 3 2008 it was announced that Italy had started fingerprinting their Roma populations, despite accusations of racism by human rights advocates and international organizations. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told parliament the move was needed to fight crime and identify illegal immigrants for expulsion, but also to improve the lives of those legally living in the makeshift, often unsanitary camps. []

On July 19 2008 two Roma girls drowned off Torregaveta, west of Naples. Local newspapers reported that sunbathers continued as normal with a day at the beach despite the bodies of the two girls being laid out on the sand nearby for an hour. [] Hostility to the Roma has been growing in recent years, and according to Enzo Esposito of Opera Nomadi, Italy's largest Roma organisation, the events on the beach "showed a terrible lack of sensitivity and respect." [ [ The picture that shames Italy - The Independent] ]

On September 4 2008 the European Commission said Italy's census of illegal gypsy camps does not discriminate against the Roma community. They said the census is in line with European Union law. An analysis of an Italian report on the census showed it did not seek "data based on ethnic origin or religion," said Michele Cercone, spokesman for European Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot. The controversial fingerprinting programme has the sole aim of "identifying persons who cannot be identified in any other way," he said. The fingerprinting of minors was only being carried out "in strictly necessary cases and as the ultimate possibility of identification," Cercone said. [ [ ] ] []

United Kingdom

In the UK, "travellers" (referring to Irish Travellers and New Age Travellers as well as Roma) became a 2005 general election issue, with the leader of the Conservative Party promising to review the Human Rights Act 1998. This law, which absorbs the European Convention on Human Rights into UK primary legislation, is seen by some to permit the granting of retrospective planning permission. Severe population pressures and the paucity of greenfield sites have led to "travellers" purchasing land and setting up residential settlements very quickly, thus subverting the planning restrictionsFact|date=October 2007.

Travellers argued in response that thousands of retrospective planning permissions are granted in Britain in cases involving non-Roma applicants each year and that statistics showed that 90% of planning applications by Roma and travellers were initially refused by local councils, compared with a national average of 20% for other applicants, disproving claims of preferential treatment favouring Roma. [cite web|url=|title=Gypsies and Irish Travellers: The facts|publisher=Commission on Racial Equality (UK)]

They also argued that the root of the problem was that many traditional stopping-places had been barricaded off and that legislation passed by the previous Conservative government had effectively criminalised their community, for example by removing local authorities’ responsibility to provide sites, thus leaving the travellers with no option but to purchase unregistered new sites themselves. [cite web|url=|work=Inside Out - South East|date=2005-09-19|title=Gypsies|publisher=BBC]


In Denmark, there was much controversy when the city of Helsingør decided to put all Roma students in special classes in its public schools. The classes were later abandoned after it was determined that they were discriminatory and the Roma were put back in regular classes. [cite web
date = 18 January 2006
url =
title = Roma-politik igen i søgelyset
publisher = DR Radio P4
language = Danish

United States

Law enforcement agencies in the United States hold regular conferences [cite web|title=Gypsies: the Usual Suspects|first=Hector|last=Becerra|publisher=Los Angeles Times|date=2006-01-30|url=|notes=copy on National Association of Bunco Investigators website, which deletes a description of profane cries when a speaker said not all gypsies are criminal] on the Roma and similar nomadic groups. It is common to refer to the operators of certain types of travelling con artists [cite book|author=Dennis Marlock, John Dowling |year=1994 |month=January |publisher=Paladin Press|title=License To Steal: Traveling Con Artists: Their Games, Their Rules, Your Money|isbn=978-0873647519] and fortune-telling [cite web|title=Real Stories From Victims Who've Been Scammed|url=||accessdate=2007-08-26] businesses as "Gypsies," although many are Irish Travellers or not members of any particular nomadic ethnic group.Fact|date=September 2008

Roma people by geographic area

Central and Eastern Europe

A significant proportion of the world's Roma live in Central and Eastern Europe, often in squatter communities with very high unemployment, while only some are fully integrated in the society. However, in some cases—notably the Kalderash clan in Romania, who work as traditional coppersmiths—they have prospered. Some Roma families choose to immigrate to Western Europe now that many of the former Communist countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria have entered the European Union and free travel is permitted. During the 1970s and 1980s many Roma from former Yugoslavia migrated to Western European countries, especially to Austria, Germany and Sweden.

The current and historical situation of Roma in the region differs from country to country.


The number of Roma people in Hungary is disputed. In the 2001 census only 190,000 people called themselves Roma, but sociological estimates give much higher numbers (about 5%-10% of the total population). Since World War II, the number of Roma has increased rapidly, multiplying sevenfold in the last centuryFact|date=June 2008. Today every fifth or sixth newborn is RomaFact|date=June 2008. Estimates based on current demographic trends project that in 2050, 20.9% of the population (1.64 million people) will be Roma. [ [ Romani world] ]


Roma in Turkey are known as Chingene, Chingen or Chingan (Mostly), Chingit (West Black Sea region), Dom (East Anatolia), Posha (East Anatolia), Abdal (Kahramanmaraş), Roman (Izmir) [ Özhan Öztürk. [ Karadeniz Ansiklopedik Sözlük] . İstanbul. 2005. ISBN 975-6121-00-9. p.280-281. ] . Estimates of the population vary from 300.000 to 5 million, dispersed all across the country. They have integrated fully to the ethnic make up of the country, and in later years have started to recognize, and cherish their Roma background as well. [cite web|url=|title=TÜRKİYE'Lİ ÇİNGENELER|language=Turkish|accessdate=2007-08-26] Blacksmithing and other handicrafts are the Roma's specialities.


Roma in Spain are generally known as "Gitanos" and tend to speak Caló which is basically Andalusian Spanish with a large number of Romany loanwords. [ [ My Friends, The Gypsies] ] Estimates of the Spanish Gitano population range between 600,000 and 800,000 with the Spanish government estimating between 650,000 and 700,000. [] Semi-nomadic Quinqui consider themselves apart from the Gitanos.


The Roma in Portugal are known as "Ciganos", and their presence goes back to the second half of the 15th century. Early on, due to their socio-cultural difference and nomadic style of live, the Ciganos were the object of fierce discrimination and persecution. [Joel Serrão, "Ciganos", in Dicionário de História de Portugal, Lisboa, 2006.]

The number of "Ciganos" in Portugal is difficult to estimate, since there are no official statistics about race or ethnic categories. According to data from Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance [ [ ECRI (2002), "Relatório da Comissão Europeia contra o Racismo e a Intolerância - Segundo Relatório sobre Portugal", Estrasburgo, p. 23 (In Portuguese).] ] there are about 40,000 to 50,000 spread all over the country. [pt icon [] ]

The majority of the "Ciganos" do not have today a nomad style of life, rather concentrating themselves in the most important urban centers. This population is characterised by very low levels of educational qualification, social exclusion and residential and housing difficulties (many living in degraded ghettos). However, from the late 1990s to the 2000s, major public housing ("bairros sociais") policies were targeted at the Portuguese Roma people. [pt icon [] ] [pt icon [] ] The "Ciganos" are the ethnic group that the Portuguese most reject and discriminate against, and are also targets for discriminatory practices from the State administration, namely at a local level, finding persistent difficulties in the access to job placement, housing and social services, as well as in the relation to police forces. [ [ ECRI (2002), "Relatório da Comissão Europeia contra o Racismo e a Intolerância - Segundo Relatório sobre Portugal", Estrasburgo, pp. 23-25.] ; ; See also: [ European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Third report on Portugal, 2006.] ]


Roma are generally known in spoken French as "Gitans" or "Tsiganes". "Romanichels" or "Manouches" are considered pejorative and "Bohémiens" is outdated.

"Gens du Voyage" (Travellers) is a widely accepted term and does not bear any social stigma. The French National Gendarmerie tends to refer to "MENS" ("Minorités Ethniques Non-Sédentarisées"), a neutral administrative term meaning Travelling Ethnic Minorities. By law, French municipalities have the obligation to allocate a piece of land to Roma travellers when they show up.


Roma in Finland are known as "mustalaiset" and "romanit". Currently, there are approximately 10,000 Roma living in Finland, mostly in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.Fact|date=April 2007 In Finland, the Roma people usually wear their traditional dress in everyday life. []


Romanies in Sweden were formerly known as "zigenare" for Roma and "tattare" for Romani Travellers. More recently the "romer" has been adopted as a collective designation referring to both groups, with "resande" (Travellers) also referring to the latter only. Currently, there are approximately 50,000 Romanies living in Sweden, many of them bieng Finnish Kale who immigrated in the 1960s. The latter often wear traditional dress in public.Fact|date=August 2008

Romanies in Sweden have periodically suffered at the hands of the state. For example, the state has subjected children to being forcibly taken into foster care, or even forcibly sterilised Romani women. Prejudice against Romanies is widespread, with most stereotypes portraying Romanies as welfare cheats, shoplifters, and con artists. In the 1992, Bert Karlsson, one of the leaders of Ny Demokrati, declared that "Gypsies are responsible for 90% of crime against pensioners" in Sweden. [] Previously he had tried to ban the entry of Romanies to his "Skara Sommarland" theme park, because he considered them responsible for theft. Some shopkeepers, employers and landlords continue to discriminate against Romanies.Fact|date=August 2008

The situation is, however, improving. There are several Romani organisations that promote Romani rights and culture in Sweden. Since 2000, Romani chib is an officially recognised minority language in Sweden. The Swedish government also has a special standing [ Delegation for Roma Issues] . There is now even a Romani folk high school in Gothenburg. []

The United Kingdom

Roma in England are generally known as "Romnichals" or Romany Gypsies, while their Welsh equivalent are known as "Kale". They have been known in the UK since at least the early 16th century and may number up to 120,000. There is also a sizable population of East European Roma who immigrated into the UK in the late 1990s/early 2000s, and also after EU expansion in 2004.

There are records of Roma people in Scotland in the early 16th century, the first recorded reference to "the Egyptians" would appear to be in 1492, in the reign of James IV, when an entry in the Book of the Lord High Treasurer records a payment "to Peter Ker of four shillings, to go to the king at Hunthall, to get letters subscribed to the 'King of Rowmais'". Two days after, a payment of twenty pounds was made at the king's command to the messenger of the 'King of Rowmais'. [cite web|url=|title=Gypsies in Scotland|accessdate=2007-08-26|year=2004|publisher=The Scottish Gypsies of Scotland]

It is difficult to be clear about the numbers of Roma today in Scotland, according to the Scottish Traveller Education Programme, there are probably about 20,000 Scottish Gypsies/Travellers. [cite web|url=|title=Gypsies and Travellers in Scotland|accessdate=2007-08-26|publisher=Scottish Traveller Education Programme|date=2007-02-05] Although it is unknown how many of this number are Roma and it is recognised that Gypsies and Travellers in Scotland are not one homogenous group, but consist of several groups each with different histories and cultures, and could consist of many unrelated ethnic groups.

From this, the term "gypsy" in the United Kingdom has come to mean, in common culture, anyone who travels with no fixed abode (regardless of ethnic group). This use of the term is synonymous with "pikey" Fact|date=August 2008, which is seen by many as a derogatory term. In some parts of the UK they are commonly called "tinkers" from their work as tinsmiths.

North America

The beginning of the 19th century saw the first Roma group, the Romnichel, arrive in North America. The ancestors of the majority of the contemporary local Roma population, Eastern European Roma, started to migrate during the second half of the century. Among these groups were the Romani-speaking peoples like the Kalderash, Machvaya, Lovari and Churari, as well as the linguistically Romanianized groups, like the Boyash (Ludari). Most of them arrived either directly from Romania after their liberation from slavery between 1840-1850, or after a short-period in neighbouring states such as the Russia, Austria-Hungary, or Serbia. [ [ Alin Dosoftei, "Romani history" (chapter Other areas)] ] The Bashalde arrived from what is now Slovakia at about the same time. [cite web|url=|title="Gypsies" in the United States|accessdate=2007-08-26|work=Migrations in History|publisher=Smithsonian Institution] This immigration decreased drastically during the Communist era in Eastern Europe, but resumed in the 1990s after the fall of Communism. Roma organizations currently estimate that there are about one million Roma in the USA and 80,000 in Canada.

outh America

Roma groups settled the Brazilian states of Espirito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais in the late 19th century. They came from Serbia (the Machvaya), from Romania (the Kalderash), from Italy (the Lovari), as well as from Greece and Turkey (the Horahane) [ [ The Roma (Gypsies) of Brazil] ] Initially, the presence of Roma in Brazil was explained by the Portuguese Inquisition persecuting the "Ciganos" of Portugal by exiling them overseas. Now there are at least 60,000 Roma there, although the exact number cannot be known.Fact|date=April 2008 Most of them are Kalderash, Macwaia, Rudari, Horahane, and Lovara.

There is also a sizeable population of Roma people in Chile. They are widely and easily recognized and they continue to hold on to their traditions and language and many continue to live semi-nomadic lifestyles traveling from city to city and living in small tented communities. A domestically produced television series (a soap opera) called "Romane" was based around the Roma people, it went into depth showing their lifestyles, ideas and even featured the Chilean born actors speaking in the Romany language with subtitles in Spanish occasionally.

The Middle East

In Iraq, the Qawliya (meaning gypsie in Arabic), people are a small Roma minority group who trace their history back to Spain. It is estimated that 3,000,000 Romani people are living in Iraq, they are usually looked down upon in society and referred to as second class citizens. Fact|date=September 2008

A community related closely to the Roma and living in Israel and the Palestinian territories and in neighboring countries are known as Dom people. Before 1948, there was an Arabic-speaking Dom community in Jaffa, whose members were noted for their involvement in street theatre and circus performances. They are the subject of the play "The Gypsies of Jaffa" (Hebrew: הצוענים של יפו "HaTsoʿanim shel Yafo"), by the late Nissim Aloni, considered among Israel's foremost playwrights, and the play came to be considered a classic of the Israeli theatre (see [] ). Like most other Jaffa Arabs, much of this community was uprooted in the face of the Israeli advance in April 1948, and its descendants are assumed to be presently living in the Gaza Strip; it is unknown to what degree they still preserve a separate Domari identity. Another Dom community is known to exist in East Jerusalem. In October 1999, the nonprofit organisation "Domari: The Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem" was established by Amoun Sleem to advocate on this community's behalf. [] , [] In neighboring Egypt, the Roma population is estimated at 1,080,000 individuals, 234,000 of whom are counted as Dom. [ [] ]

Some Eastern European Roma are known to have arrived in Israel in the late 1940s and early 1950s, being from Bulgaria or having intermarried with Jews in the post-WWII displaced persons camps or, in some cases, having pretended to be Jews when Zionist representatives arrived in those camps. The exact numbers of these Roma living in Israel are unknown, since such individuals tended to assimilate into the Israeli Jewish environment. According to several recent accounts in the Israeli press, some families preserve traditional Romany lullabies and a small number of Romany expressions and curse words, and pass them on to generations born in Israel who, for the most part, are Jews and speak Hebrew.Fact|date=February 2007 The Roma community in Israel has grown since the 1990s, as some Roma immigrated there from the former Soviet Union.

Fictional representations of Roma

Many fictional depictions of the Roma emphasize their supposed mystical powers. They often appear as nomads.



* Viorel Achim (2004). "The Roma in Romanian History." Budapest: Central European University Press. ISBN 963-9241-84-9.
* Auzias, Claire. "Les funambules de l'histoire". Baye: Éditions la Digitale, 2002.
* De Soto, Hermine. "Roma and Egyptians in Albania: From Social Exclusion to Social Inclusion". Washington, DC, USA: World Bank Publications, 2005.
* Fonseca, Isabel. "Bury me standing: the Gypsies and their journey". New York: A.A. Knopf, 1995.
* Fraser, Angus "The Gypsies" : Blackwell Publishers, Oxford UK, 1992 ISBN 0-631-15967-3.
* Genner, Michael. "Spartakus", 2 vols. Munich: Trikont, 1979-80.
* “Germany Reaches Deal to Deport Thousands of Gypsies to Romania,” "Migration World Magazine", Nov-December 1992.
* Gray, RD; Atkinson, QD (2003). "Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin." "Nature."
* Gresham, D; "et al." (2001). "Origins and divergence of the Roma (Gypsies)." "American Journal of Human Genetics." 69(6), 1314-1331. []
* Hackl, Erich. (1991). "Farewell Sidonia", New York: Fromm International Pub. ISBN 0-88064-124-X. (Translated from the German, "Abschied von Sidonie" 1989)
* Helsinki Watch. "Struggling for Ethnic Identity: Czechoslovakia’s Endangered Gypsies." New York, 1991.
* Leland, Charles G. "The English Gipsies and Their Language". London: Trübner & Co., 1873.
* Lemon, Alaina (2000). "Between Two Fires: Gypsy Performance and Romani Memory from Pushkin to Post-Socialism." Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2456-3
* Luba Kalaydjieva; "et al." (2001). "Patterns of inter- and intra-group genetic diversity in the Vlax Roma as revealed by Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA lineages." "European Journal of Human Genetics." 9, 97-104. []
* Marushiakova, Elena; Popov, Vesselin. (2001) "Gypsies in the Ottoman Empire." Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.
* Matras, Yaron (2002). "Romani: A Linguistic Introduction", Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-512-02330-0.
* McDowell, Bart (1970). "Gypsies, Wanderers of the World". National Geographic Society. ISBN 0-87044-088-8.
* "Gypsies, The World's Outsiders." "National Geographic", April 2001, 72-101.
* Ringold, Dena. "Roma & the Transition in Central & Eastern Europe: Trends & Challenges". Washington, DC, USA: World Bank, 2000. pg. 3,5, & 7.
* Roberts, Samuel. "The Gypsies: Their Origin, Continuance, and Destination". London: Longman, 4th edition, 1842.
* Silverman, Carol. “Persecution and Politicization: Roma (Gypsies) of Eastern Europe.” "Cultural Survival Quarterly", Summer 1995.
* Simson, Walter. "History of the Gipsies". London: S. Low, 1865.
* Tebbutt, Susan (Ed., 1998) "Sinti and Roma in German-speaking Society and Literature". Oxford: Berghahn.
* Turner, Ralph L. (1926) The Position of Romani in Indo-Aryan. In: Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society 3rd Ser. 5/4, pp. 145–188.
* [ Danish Broadcasting Corporation] A page in Danish about Roma treatment in Denmark

ee also

* And the Violins Stopped Playing
* Cem Romengo
* Dazdie
* Decade of Roma Inclusion
* European Roma Rights Centre
* Gypsy Lore Society
* Indian diaspora
* International Romani Union
* King of the Gypsies
* List of Rroma people
* List of Romani settlements
* Romanian towns with large Roma populations
* List of Romani groups
* List of Romani poets
* List of Roma, Sinti and Mixed People
* Nomadic peoples of Europe
* Romani media
* Romani music
* Saint Sarah
* Šuto Orizari municipality
* Timeline of Romani history
* Time of the Gypsies
* Yeniche people

External links

* [ European Parliament resolution on the situation of the Roma in the European Union] - April 28, 2005
* [ Final report on the human rights situation of the Roma, Sinti and travellers in Europe] by the European Commissioner for Human Rights (Council of Europe) - February 15 2006

Non-governmental organisations

* [ European Roma Rights Centre] - European Roma NGO

Museums and libraries

* Museum of Roma Culture in Brno, Czech Republic (in Czech) []
* [ Specialized Library with Archive "Studii Romani"] in Sofia, Bulgaria (Bulgarian, English)
* [ Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma] in Heidelberg, Germany (German, English)
* [ Ethnographic Museum] in Tarnów, Poland. Click "ROMA (CYGANIE)" on the menu at left. (Polish, English, Romany)

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