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Roma (Romani subgroup)

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Roma (Romani subgroup)

Template:Romani people

"Roma" is also used as a synonym for the the Romani people as a whole.

The Roma are a major subgroup of the Romani people[1][2] (historically known as Gypsies, a term that is now sometimes considered pejorative[3]) who live primarily in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in the Balkans and Western Anatolia (besides recent immigrants in Western Europe and the Americas). The Roma "subgroup" is itself further divided into numerous smaller populations. They form the bulk of the Romani population, complemented by the Northwestern Romani speakers of Western and Northern Europe.


Southeastern Europe


Main article: Roma in Bulgaria

Romani people constitute the second largest minority and third largest ethnic group (after Bulgarians and Turks) in Bulgaria. According to the 2001 census, there were 370,908 Roma in Bulgaria, equivalent to 4.7% of the country's total population,[4] but as over 700,000 persons did not declare their ethnic group in the 2011 census, the overall number of Roma is estimated at 500,000 as of 2011, or 6.8% of the population.

Noted Bulgarian Roma include musicians Azis, Sofi Marinova and Ivo Papazov and politician Toma Tomov.


Main article: Roma in Greece

There were 300,000 Roma in Greece, according to Greek Helsinki Monitor in 1999. Government estimates count 200,000 Roma. The Roma minority comprise around 1.8% to 2.8% of the total Greek population.


Main article: Roma in Macedonia

According to the last census from 2002, there were 53,879 ethnic Roma in the Republic of Macedonia or 2.66% of population. Another sources claim to be between 80,000[5] and 260,000[6] Roma in Macedonia or approximately 4 to 12% of the total population. Municipality Šuto Orizari is the only municipality in the world with a Romani majority and the only municipality where Romani is the official language. Due to the demographics, both Romani and Macedonian are official in Šuto Orizari, the municipality being officially bilingual. The mayor of the municipality, Elvis Bajram, is an ethnic Rom, the son of Amdi Bajram, a Macedonian MP and member of the ruling coalition government. Another prominent Macedonian Roma is the singer Esma Redžepova.


Main article: Roma in Romania

There is a sizable minority of Romani people in Romania, of 619,000 people or 3.2% of the total population (2011 census).[7] The Roma are the most socially disadvantaged minority group in Romania, even though there are a variety of governmental and non-governmental programs for integration and social advancement, including the National Agency for the Roma and Romania's participation in the Decade of Roma Inclusion. As an officially recognised ethnic minority, the Romani people also have guaranteed representation in Parliament and official recognition of their language in localities where they make up more than 20% of the population.


Main article: Roma in Serbia

According to the 2011, census, there were 147,604 Roma in Serbia or 2.05% of the population. The actual total of Roma in Serbia is generally thought to be much higher, due to the fact that many Roma do not wish to identify themselves as Roma.

In Kosovo, the Roma are seen by many Albanians as being allied with Serbian national interests. The Kosovo Liberation Army has targeted Roma as well as Serbs. In 2008 American magazine Business Week featured Romani problems.[8]

Central Europe


Main article: Roma of Croatia

Roma are a constitutionally recognized autochthonous national minority of Croatia. The census of 2001 recorded 9,463 Romanies in the country, mostly in the Međimurje County and the City of Zagreb.[9]

Czech Republic and Slovakia

Main article: Roma in Slovakia

According to the last census in Slovakia (2001), there were 89,920 persons counted as Roma, or 1.7% of the population.[10] In the Czech Republic Roma probably make 2–3% of population or an estimated 200–300 thousand – although in the last census (2001), Romani ethnicity officially enrolled only 11,746 persons.

In the Czech Republic, 75% of Romani children are educated in schools for people with learning difficulties, and 70% are unemployed (compared with a national rate of 6%). In Slovakia, Romani children are 28 times as likely to be sent to a special school than non-Roma; Romani unemployment stands at 80%.
The Guardian, January 8, 2003[11]

In 2007, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled 13-4 in the case "D.H. and Others v. Czech Republic" that the city of Ostrava did violate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by placing a disproportionate number of Roma children in "special schools" for the learning impaired.[12]

In Slovakia there are a number of Romani parties, like the Roma Civic Initiative.


Main article: Roma in Hungary

The number of Romani people in Hungary is disputed. In the 2001 census only 190,000 people called themselves Roma, but sociological estimates yield 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 century. Today, every fifth or sixth newborn is Roma. Estimates based on current demographic trends project that in 2050, 20.9% of the population will be Romani.[13]

The Roma (called cigányok or romák in Hungarian) suffer particular problems in Hungary, for example in the educational system, only 61% of Hungarian Roma aged 15 and above have completed primary education, while only 13% have completed secondary education.[14] Currently, around 90% of Romani children complete primary education. A research of sample schools however suggests that the drop-out rate among Roma is still almost twice as high as among non-Roma.[15]

The share of Romani students entering secondary education has increased greatly, with the percentage of Romani children not pursuing any secondary education dropping from 49% to 15% between 1994 and 1999. But that increase is almost exclusively due to increased enrollment in the lowest levels of education, which provide only limited chances for employment. Whereas almost half the Hungarian secondary school students enroll in vocational secondary schools or comprehensive grammar schools, which provide better chances, only one in five Romani children does so. Moreover, the drop-out rate in secondary schools is significant.[16]

The separation of Romani children into segregated schools and classes is also a problem, and has been on the rise over the past 15 years. Segregated schools are partly the result of "white flight", with non-Romani parents sending their children to schools in neighboring villages or towns when there are many Romani students in the local school. But Romani children are also frequently placed in segregated classes even within "mixed" schools.[17] Many other Romani children are sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities. The percentage of Romani children in special schools rose from about 25% in 1975 to 42% in 1992, with a 1997 survey showing little change – whereas a National Institute for Public Education report says that "most experts agree that a good number of Romani children attending special schools are not even slightly mentally disabled".[18]

Less than 1% of Roma hold higher educational certificates. Their low status on the job market and higher unemployment rates cause poverty, widespread social problems and crime.


The Romani are much less numerous and less controversial in Poland than in other European countries where major sociopolitical issues revolve around them. Estimates of the Romani population in Poland range from 15,000 to 50,000. Czechoslovakia's Romani population, by contrast, numbered 500,000 in the 1980s, when Poland became a transit point on the illegal migration route to Germany. Emigration of Polish Romani to Germany in the late 1980s reduced Poland's Romani population by as much as 75 percent. Although some negative stereotypes, the acts of violence and discrimination against this most visible minority are very rare in Poland. The exception was so called Mława pogrom. The Polish government has adopted no comprehensive policy on Romani but instead had treated violent acts against them as isolated incidents.[19]

Former Soviet Union

In Tsarist Russia there were no laws discriminating against the Roma, as there were towards Jews. They did suffer, however, as did other ethnic groups, during the Soviet period, especially under Joseph Stalin.


Main article: Ruska Roma

An official 2002 census in Russia lists the Romani population as approximately 183,000 (0.1% of the population).[20] However, this census was based on a verbal declaration of ethnicity. Many Roma may have declared other ethnicities (Russian, Ukrainian, Moldavian, etc.) in fear of discrimination. The census also didn't always reach people in obscure areas and people living in Russia illegally. Some estimate their actual population to be anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million.

There are a number of different groups of Roma throughout Russia. They include the following:

  • Ruska Roma (Russian: русские цыгане), whose ancestors arrived in Russia in the 17th century. Many of these Roma live in urban areas, often in apartments. Others live in villages. They all speak Russian and most of them also speak Romani.
  • Vlaxitka Roma, living mostly in the Southern areas of Russia.
  • Servitka Roma, who have arrived in Russia from Ukraine.
  • Lotva (Russian: лотва), Roma from Lithuania and the Pskov Oblast, who are also considered Ruska Roma.
  • Kalderash (Russian: Кэлдэрари/Котлари/котляры), living mostly in villages.
  • Modyars/Mogyars (Russian: Мадьяры), who used to reside in an area of the Carpathian Mountains that was annexed to Ukraine in 1945. Most of these Roma speak Hungarian, as well as Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian and Romani.


Main article: Roma in Ukraine
Further information: Servitko Roma

The presence of Roma in Ukraine was first documented in the early 15th century. Roma maintained their social organizations and folkways, shunning non-Romani contacts, education and values, often as a reaction to anti-Romani attitudes and persecution. They adopted the language and faith of the dominant society being Orthodox in most of Ukraine, Catholic in western Ukraine and Transcarpathia, Muslim in Crimea.

During WWII Nazi policies to exterminate Roma were implemented. By July 1943 the Romanian authorities transported 25,000 Roma to Transnistria, along the Southern Bug River, where half perished because of the brutal treatment. In Ukraine it is estimated that 12,000 were killed in Babi Yar in Kiev. Other massacres took place in Crimea, Podilia, Galicia and Volhynia.

According to the Soviet census of 1926 there were 13,600 Roma in the Ukrainian SSR, 2,500 whom lived in cities. In Crimea there were 1600. According to the 1970 census there were 30,100 Roma in Ukrainian SSR, (up from 28,000 in 1959). In 1979, there were 34,500. The estimate of the World Romani Union is considerably higher.

Roma are scattered throughout Ukraine, but their largest concentrations are in Transcapathia, Crimea and Odessa oblasts. Half live in cities. 35% consider Romani their mother tongue.

Material culture has not differed from the dominant society except in dress. They have a rich folk tradition. Roma themes can be found in Ukrainian literature.

Near East


Main article: Roma in Turkey

Roma in Turkey descend from the times of the Byzantine Empire. With the expanse of the Ottoman Empire Turkish Roma settled in Rumelia (Southern Europe under the Ottoman rule). The descendants of the Ottoman Roma today are known as Xoraxane Roma. There are officially about 500,000 Roma in Turkey.[21][22][23][24] By different Turkish Roma and Non-Turkish estimates the number of Roma is up to 5,000,000.[25][26]

Western Europe


Main article: Roma in Ireland

In 2007, it was suggested that there were between 2,000 and 6,000 Roma in Ireland, mostly from Eastern Europe.[27]

Roma in the Holocaust

Main article: Porajmos

The Roma were stripped of German citizenship by the Nürnberg laws and were soon made part of the Final Solution, with some Roma transported to share the fate of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Roma were massacred by the Einsatzgruppen in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and were deported to concentration camps. The extermination of the Roma by the Nazis and their allies has been named in the Romani language the Porajmos, loosely translated as "the devouring". Estimates of the total number of Roma killed during the Holocaust range from 220,000 to 1.5 million.

More than 20,000 Roma were deported to the Auschwitz death camp where Dr. Josef Mengele took a special interest in them, studying medical conditions including noma which ate away the cheeks of malnourished Roma children. In early August 1944, Auschwitz administration decided to exterminate the entire Roma population of the camp, and with Mengele's assistance about 3,000 people were sent to the gas chamber.[28]

See also


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