Roma of Croatia
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Roma of Croatia
Romani people in Croatia
Romi u Hrvatskoj
Flag of the Romani people.svg
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2004-0203-502, Bei Agram, kroatische Sinti und Roma-Frauen und Kinder.jpg
Romani women wearing traditional dresses and their children near Zagreb in 1941
Total population
  • 16,675 (2011 census)[1]
Romani and Croatian
Roman Catholicism
Sunni Islam
Eastern Orthodoxy[2]
Related ethnic groups
Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Roma in Serbia and Roma in Hungary
Romani by municipality, according to the 2011 Croatian census

There have been Romani people in Croatia for more than 600 years and they are concentrated mostly in the northern regions of the country. The 2011 Croatian census found 16,675 Romani in Croatia or 0.4% of the population.[1] In 2001, more than half of the Romani population was located in the Me?imurje County and the City of Zagreb.[3][4] A considerable number of Romani refugees in Croatia are from the ethnic conflict in Bosnia.[5]

In the 2011 census, the largest religious groups among the Romani were Catholics (8,299 or 49.77% of them), Muslims (5,039 or 30.22% of them) and Eastern Orthodox (2,381 or 14.02% of them).[6]

There are more than 120 Romani minority NGOs in Croatia.[7] One of the most prominent is Croatian Roma Union.



The Romani people originally came to Europe from Northern India,[8][9][10][11][12][13] presumably from the northwestern Indian states of Rajasthan[12][13] and Punjab.[12]

The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of the Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indian languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines.[14]

More exactly, Romani shares the basic lexicon with Hindi and Punjabi. It shares many phonetic features with Marwari, while its grammar is closest to Bengali.[15]

Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group.[9][10][16] According to a genetic study in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the ?oma, are the likely ancestral populations of the modern European Roma.[17]

In February 2016, during the International Roma Conference, the Indian Minister of External Affairs stated that the people of the Roma community were children of India. The conference ended with a recommendation to the Government of India to recognize the Roma community spread across 30 countries as a part of the Indian diaspora.[18]

Migration to Croatia

Romani people were mentioned for the first time in the Republic of Ragusa in 1362 in some commercial records.[5] Ten years later, Romani were recorded as being in Zagreb, where they were merchants, tailors and butchers.[5]

Various Romani groups have lived in Croatia since the 14th century.[19]

In the Middle Ages Roma living in cities lived together with rest of the population. According to litteras promotorias, nomad Romani groups also had the authority to resolve independently all intragroup conflicts.[20]

Maria Theresa and Joseph II, in regulations issued in 1761, 1767 and 1783, outlawed the Romani nomadic lifestyle, forced them to accept local clothing codes and languages, made regulations regarding personal and family names and limited their choice of professions.[20]

Large groups of Roma arrived in Croatia in the 19th century from Romania after the abolition of Romani slavery there in 1855.[20]

World War II

About 20,000 Croatian Romani were executed by Ustasha police officers during World War II.[21]



Three groups of dialects of the Romani language present in the region are Carpathian Romani, Balkan Romani and Vlax Romani language.


In the 2011 census, the largest religious groups among the Romani were Catholics (8,299 or 49.77% of them), Muslims (5,039 or 30.22% of them) and Eastern Orthodox (2,381 or 14.02% of them).[6]

Romani in modern Croatia

In the Republic of Croatia, Romani have remained largely marginalized, so the government has a programme to provide them with systematic assistance in order to improve their living conditions and to include them in the social life.[22][19] According to a survey conducted in 1998, 70% of surveyed families at the time did not have any permanently employed family members, 21% had one member, and 6% had two permanently employed members.[2] Additional risks include poor housing conditions, inadequate clean water supplies and inadequate electricity infrastructure in Romani settlements, poor health care and low average level of education.[2]

The Romani elect a special representative to the Croatian Parliament shared with members of eleven other national minorities.[23] The first such member of parliament, Nazif Memedi, was elected in the 2007 parliamentary election. In 2010, Romani were added to the preamble of the Croatian Constitution and thereby recognized as one of the autochthonous national minorities.[24] In 2012 the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb introduced for the first time courses titled Romani language I and Literature and culture of Roma.[25]

Roma in Me?imurje County

According to estimates and available data, at the beginning of 2009 in Me?imurje County there lived about 5,500 Roma, 4.7% of the total population, which made them the largest national minority group in the county.[26] According to the census in 2011, 2,887 people (2.44%) identified themselves as Romani.[3] The difference between the census data and the actual Roma population can be explained by the fact that many Roma choose not to reveal their minority affiliation due to stigmatization. For example, in Donja Dubrava municipality, according to the 2001 census there wasn't a single Roma living there, even though at that time in the municipality there were little Romani settlements with about 70 people.[26]

Altogether there are twelve settlements in Me?imurje where the Romani minority live. A concentration of Roma in some settlements, and in certain peripheral streets of some settlements show territorial segregation of Roma within the county.[26] In more than half of Me?imurje municipalities, Roma are not present or are present in very small numbers.[26]


  1. ^ a b "Stanovni?tvo prema narodnosti, popisi 1971. - 2011" (in Croatian). Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ a b c ?tambuk, Maja (June 2000). "Romi u Hrvatskoj devedesetih". Dru?tvena Istra?ivanja (in Croatian). 8 (2-3). Retrieved .
  3. ^ a b "Population by ethnicity". Census. Croatian Bureau of Statistics. 2001. Retrieved .
  4. ^ "Status romske populacije u Republici Hrvatskoj". (in Croatian). Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb. 7 November 2011. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Ured vlade za nacionalne manjine-Obilje?ja Roma u RH". Archived from the original on 2013-02-16. Retrieved .
  6. ^ a b "4. Population by ethnicity and religion". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Croatian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Ured za ljudska prava i prava nacionalnihmanjina-Romi". Ured za ljudska prava i prava nacionalnihmanjina. Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved .
  8. ^ Hancock 2002, p. xx: 'While a nine century removal from India has diluted Indian biological connection to the extent that for some Romanian groups, it may be hardly representative today, Sarren (1976:72) concluded that we still remain together, genetically, Asian rather than European'
  9. ^ a b Mendizabal, Isabel (6 December 2012). "Reconstructing the Population History of European Romani from Genome-wide Data". Current Biology. 22 (24): 2342-2349. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.10.039. PMID 23219723.
  10. ^ a b Sindya N. Bhanoo (11 December 2012). "Genomic Study Traces Roma to Northern India". New York Times.
  11. ^ Current Biology.
  12. ^ a b c K. Meira Goldberg; Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum; Michelle Heffner Hayes (2015-10-06). Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives. p. 50. ISBN 9780786494705. Retrieved .
  13. ^ a b Simon Broughton; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo (1999). World Music: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Rough Guides. p. 147. ISBN 9781858286358. Retrieved . Roma Rajastan Penjab.
  14. ^ ?ebková, Hana; ?lnayová, Edita (1998), Nástin mluvnice slovenské rom?tiny (pro pedagogické ú?ely) (PDF), Ústí nad Labem: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity J. E. Purkyn? v Ústí nad Labem, p. 4, ISBN 978-80-7044-205-0, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04
  15. ^ Hübschmannová, Milena (1995). "Roma?i ?hib - rom?tina: N?kolik základních informací o romském jazyku". Bulletin Muzea Romské Kultury. Brno (4/1995). Zatímco romská lexika je blií hind?tin?, marvár?tin?, pand?áb?tin? atd., v gramatické sfé?e nacházíme mnoho shod s východoindickým jazykem, s bengál?tinou.
  16. ^ "5 Intriguing Facts About the Roma". Live Science.
  17. ^ Rai, N; Chaubey, G; Tamang, R; Pathak, AK; Singh, VK (2012), "The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations", PLoS ONE, 7 (11): e48477, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477, PMC 3509117, PMID 23209554
  18. ^ "Can Romas be part of Indian diaspora?". 29 February 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  19. ^ a b Office of National Minorities (2008-02-14). "Characteristics of Roma in the Republic of Croatia". National programme for Roma. Croatian Government. Retrieved .[dead link]
  20. ^ a b c Hrvati?, Neven (December 2004). "Romi u Hrvatskoj: od migracija do interkulturalnih odnosa". Migracijske I Etni?ke Teme (in Croatian). 20 (4). Retrieved .
  21. ^ Kenrick, Donald (2006). The Gypsies During the Second World War: The final chapter. The Gypsies During the Second World War. 3. Centre de recherches tsiganes (Université René Descartes) (illustrated ed.). Univ of Hertfordshire Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-902806-49-5. Retrieved .
  22. ^ Office of National Minorities (2008-02-14). "Introduction". National programme for Roma. Croatian Government. Retrieved .[dead link]
  23. ^ "Pravo pripadnika nacionalnih manjina u Republici Hrvatskoj na zastupljenost u Hrvatskom saboru". Zakon o izborima zastupnika u Hrvatski sabor (in Croatian). Croatian Parliament. Retrieved .
  24. ^ Marijan Lipovac (2011-04-11). "Integracija Roma" [Integration of Roma]. Vjesnik (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "Kolegiji Romski jezik I i Knji?evnost i kultura Roma I". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved .
  26. ^ a b c d ?lezak, Hrvoje (December 2009). "Prostorna segregacija romskog stanovni?tva u Me?imurskoj ?upaniji". Hrvatski Geografski Glasnik (in Croatian). 71 (2). Retrieved .

External links

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