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Minorities of Romania: the story of the gypsies


According to the last official census (2011) the official number of gypsy population in Romania is of 600,000. Unofficially, The Council of Europe’s Roma and Travellers Division estimates that there are around 1.85 million. Outside Romania, there are around 2.75 million in Turkey;  in Russia around 825,000; in Bulgaria 750,000; in Spain 725,000; in Hungary 700,000; in Serbia 600,000; Slovakia 500,000; France 400,000; and Greece 265,000.

But who are the gypsies? According to various sources they go by different names, such as Roma, Travellers, Manouches, Ashkali, Sinti and other names.

There has been a lot of confusion about the place where they originate from, as euronews reports. Recently, the Adevarul newspaper has researched on this subject and found that the ethnic origin of this population comes from the Byzantine empire, as the Romans have brought slaves from Syria. After they have left  India due to conflicts, the gypsy population has split into two branches, one part going towards the north of Africa and the other branch towards Europe. Another source says that gypsies have come due to the Mongolian invasions, as the Mongolians were using them as slaves. The tatars that attacked Europe have also brought gypsies and thus the populations have established themselves in different parts of Europe.

In Romania, the gypsies were introduced by the rich landowners that brought them as slaves. As Adevarul newspaper states,the gypsies worked around the lands of the rich, around monasteries and in the castles of the rulers.

The gypsies were freed from slavery in 20 February 1856 thanks to Mihail Kogalniceanu who has fought for their rights since 1837.