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Romani people in Romania

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Romani people in Romania

Romani in Romania
Țigani, Gipsy,
Total population
2011 census: 621,573[1]
Romani and other languages (Romanian, Hungarian, Turkish)
Orthodoxy · Catholicism · Calvinism · Pentecostalism · Islam
Part of a series on
Romani people
Flag of the Romani people
The Romani minority in Romania by county (2011 census)
The Romani minority in Romania by county (2002 census)
Percentage of Romani minority who speak Romani language in Romania by county (2011 census)
The Romani minority in Romania by municipality (2002 census)

Romani people (Roma in Romani; Țigani in Romanian) in Romania, They are the third ethnic group of Romania with 3.3% of the total population. The Romani are Romania's most socially and economically disadvantaged minority.


  • Religion 1
  • Terminology 2
  • Demographic history 3
    • Before 1856 3.1
    • Between 1856 and 1918 3.2
    • Between 1918 and 1945 3.3
    • After 2007 3.4
  • Cultural influence 4
  • Integration in Romanian society 5
  • Self-proclaimed "Romani royalty" 6
  • Cultural and social impact 7
    • Early age marriage scandal 7.1
  • Image gallery 8
  • Notable people 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


According to the 2002 census, 81.9% of Roma are Orthodox Christians, 6.4% Pentecostals, 3.8% Roman Catholics, 3% Reformed, 1.1% Greek Catholics, 0.9% Baptists, 0.8% Seventh-Day Adventists, while the rest belong to other religions such as (Islam and Lutheranism).[2]


In Romani, the native language of the Romani, the word for people is pronounced or depending on dialect ([ˈrom] or [ˈʀom] in the singular). Starting from the 1990s, the word has also been officially used in the Romanian language, although it has been used by Romani activists in Romania as far back as 1933.[3][4]

There are two spellings of the word in Romanian: rom (plural romi), and rrom (plural rromi). The first spelling is preferred by the majority of Romani NGOs[5] and it is the only spelling accepted in Romanian Academy's Dicționarul explicativ al limbii române.[6] The two forms reflect the fact that for some speakers of Romani there are two rhotic (ar-like) phonemes: /r/ and /ʀ/.[7] In the government-sponsored (Courthiade) writing system /ʀ/ is spelt rr. The final i in rromi is the Romanian (not Romani) plural.

The traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, is "țigani" (cognate with Serbian cigani, Hungarian cigány, Greek ατσίγγανοι (atsinganoi), French tsiganes, Portuguese ciganos, Dutch zigeuner, German Zigeuner, Italian zingari). Depending on context, the term may be considered to be pejorative in Romania[8]

In 2009-2010, a media campaign followed by a parliamentarian initiative asked the Romanian Parliament to accept a proposal to change back the official name of country's Roma (adopted in 2000) to Țigan (Gypsy), the traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, in order to avoid the possible confusion among the international community between the words Roma — which refers to the Romani ethnic minority — and Romania.[9] The Romanian government supported the move on the grounds that many countries in the European Union use a variation of the word Țigan to refer to their Gypsy populations. The Romanian upper house, Senate, rejected the proposal.[10][11]

Demographic history

In combination with the Mongol invasion of Europe the first Romani had reached the territory of present day Romania around the year 1241.[12] At the beginning of the 14th century, when the Mongols withdrew from Eastern Europe, the Romani who were left were taken as prisoners and slaves. According to documents signed by Prince Dan I the first captured Romani in Wallachia dates back to year 1385.

In fact, the Romani people, and the Romani language, have their origin in northern India. The presence of the Roms within the territory of present-day Romania dates back to the 14th century. The population of Roms fluctuated depending on diverse historical and political events.

Before 1856

Until their liberation on February 20, 1856, most Moldavia).[13]

Between 1856 and 1918

After their liberation in 1856, a significant number of Roms left Wallachia and Moldavia.

In 1886 the number of Roms was estimated at around 200,000, or 3.2% of Romania's population.[14] The 1899 census counted around 210,806 "others", of whom roughly half (or 2% of the country's population) were Romani.

In Bessarabia, annexed by the Russian Empire in 1812, the Roms were liberated in 1861. Many of them migrated to other regions of the Empire,[15] while important communities remained in Soroca, Otaci and the surroundings of Cetatea Albă, Chișinău, and Bălți.

Between 1918 and 1945

The 1918 union with Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina and Bessarabia increased the number of ethnic Romani in Romania.

The first census in interwar Romania took place in 1930; 242,656 persons (1.6%) were registered as Gypsies (ţigani).

The territory lost in 1940 caused a drop in the number of Romani, leaving a high number especially in Southern Dobruja and Northern Transylvania.

During the Second World War, the Romanian fascist government of Ion Antonescu deported 25,000 Romani to Transnistria; of these, 11,000 died.[16] In all, from the territory of present-day Romania (including Northern Transylvania), 36,000 Romani perished during that time.[17]

After 2007

The accession of Romania to the European Union in 2007 determined many members of the Romani minority, the most socially disadvantaged ethnic group in Romania, to migrate in masses to various Western countries (mostly to Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, France) hoping to find a better life. The exact number of emigrants is unknown. In 2007 Florin Cioabă, an important leader of the Romani community (also known as the "King of all Gypsies") declared in an interview that he worried that Romania may lose its Romani minority.[18] However, the next population census in 2011 showed a substantial rise in those recording Romani ethnicity.[1]

Cultural influence

Renowned Romanian Romani musicians and bands include Grigoraş Dinicu, Johnny Răducanu, Ion Voicu and Taraf de Haïdouks.

The musical genre manele, a part of Romanian pop culture, is often sung by Romani singers in Romania and has been influenced in part by Romani music, but mostly by Oriental music brought in Romania from Turkey during the 19th century. Romanian public opinion about the subject varies from support to outright condemnation.

Integration in Romanian society

A 2000 EU report about Romani said that in Romania… the continued high levels of discrimination are a serious concern.. and progress has been limited to programmes aimed at improving access to education.[19]

The EU has launched a program entitled Decade of Roma Inclusion to combat this and other problems.[20]

A survey of the Pro Democraţia association in Romania revealed that 94% of the questioned persons believe that the Romanian citizenship should be revoked to the ethnic Roms who commit crimes abroad.[21]

Self-proclaimed "Romani royalty"

The Romani community has:

  • An "Emperor of Roma from Everywhere", as Iulian Rădulescu proclaimed himself.[22] In 1997, Iulian Rădulescu announced the creation of Cem Romengo – the first Rom state in Târgu Jiu, in southwest Romania. According to Rădulescu, "this state has a symbolic value and does not affect the sovereignty and unity of Romania. It does not have armed forces and does not have borders". According to the 2002 population census, in Târgu Jiu there are 96,79% Romanians (93.546 people), 3,01% (Romani) (2.916 people) and 0,20% others.[23]
  • A "King of Roma". In 1992, Ioan Cioabă proclaimed himself King of Roma at Horezu, "in front of more than 10,000 Rroms" (according to his son's declaration). His son, Florin Cioabă, succeeded him as king.[24]
  • An "International King of Roma". On August 31, 2003, according to a decree issued by Emperor Iulian, Ilie Stănescu was proclaimed king. The ceremony took place in Curtea de Argeş Cathedral, the Orthodox Church where Romania's Hohenzollern monarchs were crowned and are buried. Ilie Stănescu died in December, 2007.[25]

Cultural and social impact

Early age marriage scandal

On September 27, 2003, Ana Maria Cioabă, the 12-year-old daughter of Florin Cioabă (the so-called "King of the Gypsies") was forced to marry Mihai Birita, a 15-year-old boy. Since both were below Romania's legal age of marriage (set at 18), no official marriage ceremony was performed. Ana Maria Cioabă fled from the wedding, but her father brought her back and she was forcibly married.[26] Particularly controversial was the fact that the groom showed the wedding guests a bloodied bed sheet to prove that the marriage had been consummated; in Romania, the age of consent is 15 years old, so sexual contact with the 12-year-old girl was illegal under Romanian law. A friend of girl's, Ms Dana Chendea, said, "She told me it was the worst thing that ever happened to her. She felt like a huge rock fell on her."[26]

Baroness Emma Nicholson, the European Parliament rapporteur for Romania, said that it was a rape and the child must be given over to foster care. Subsequently, the Romanian authorities decided that Ana-Maria Cioabă and Mihai Birita must live separately and must not have any sexual relationships until the legal age of marriage. Ana-Maria was not, however, sent to foster care.[27]

Doru-Viorel Ursu, a former Romanian Minister of the Interior (1990–1991),[28] was the godfather of the young bride.[29]

Florin Cioabă said that he believes that there should not be marriages between Romani children any more, but he argued that traditions that are hundreds of years old cannot be changed overnight.[30]

The median age at which Romani girls first marry is 19.[31]

Image gallery

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b Inofficial: 850.000 name="Unofficial"> "Romanian 2011 census" (PDF) (in Română). Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  2. ^ Census 2002, by religion. (PDF). Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  3. ^ Ziua Activistului Rom, retrieved 2009-01-28 
  4. ^ Roma, Sinti, Gypsies, Travellers... at
  5. ^ Minoritatea Roma – cea mai importanta minoritate din Europa. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Matras, Yaron (2005). Romani: A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521023306.
  8. ^ Discriminarea se invata in familie, retrieved 2009-01-28 
  9. ^ Propunere Jurnalul Naţional: "Ţigan" în loc de "rom" (Romanian)
  10. ^ Romania's Government Moves to Rename the Roma at
  11. ^ Romania Declines to Turn Roma Into 'Gypsies' at
  12. ^ Achim, p.27-28
  13. ^ Neueste Erdbeschreibung und Staatenkunde. Zweiter Band. von Dr. F.H.Ungewitter. Dresden, 1848
  14. ^ Mayers Konversationslexikon, 1892. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  15. ^ Ion Nistor, Istoria Basarabiei, Humanitas, Bucuresti, 1991
  16. ^ The report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania - The Deportation of the Roma and their treatment in Transnistria November 11, 2004 (PDF), from Jewish Virtual Library
  17. ^ Society for Threatened Peoples. (2004-02-25). Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  18. ^ Regele Cioabă se plânge la Guvern că rămâne fără supuşi – Gandul. (2007-09-10). Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  19. ^ "The Situation of Roma in an Enlarged European Union" (PDF). European Commission. 
  20. ^ Decade of Roma inclusion web site
  21. ^ Evenimentul Zilei. April 7, 2010. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  22. ^ "Regele Cioabă vs. Iulian impăratul". Maxim (in Română). 
  23. ^ Recensământ 2002. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  24. ^ Popan, Cosmin (June 10, 2006). "Cioabă şi oalele sparte din şatră".  
  25. ^ "La Mânăstirea Curtea de Argeş s-au sfinţit doar podoabele specifice rromilor". Curierul Naţional (in Română). September 3, 2003. 
  26. ^ a b "Wedding of 12-year-old gypsy princess not recognised".  
  27. ^ "Ana-Maria Cioaba şi Mihai Birita, nevoiţi să locuiască separat".  
  28. ^ "Doru-Viorel Ursu: Curriculum Vitae". Structura Parlamentului României 1992–1996 (in Română).  
  29. ^ Duca, Dan. "Cioabă face revoluţie în şatră". Cotidianul (in Română). 
  30. ^ RAZBOI TOTAL IN TIGANIE – Imparatul Iulian si Regele Cioaba il fac praf pe deputatul Niky Scorpion. (2008-02-13)
  31. ^ Romii din România. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-01-15.

External links

  • Assessment for Roma in Romania Center for International Development and Conflict Managemen Last Updated December 31, 2003
  • Come Closer. Inclusion and Exclusion of Roma in Present Day Romanian Society By Gabor Fleck, Cosima Rughinis (Eds.) 2009 ISBN 978-973-8973-09-1. Full text from Google Books
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