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Gypsies are a nomadic people who have migrated from Northern India to Europe and other parts of the world.


Etymology and terminology

The word "Gypsy" derives from "Egyptian". One proposed explanation is that this refers to "Little Egypt", which was an area in Greece from which Gypsies migrated further. Chroniclers sometimes thought it referred to Egypt itself.[1][2]

The word "gyp", meaning to cheat or swindle, got its meaning from the word "gypsy".[3]

Politically correct terms are Romani, Romany, or Roma which derive from the word for the people in their own language (the Romani language, Romany, Gypsy, or Gipsy). These terms are etymologically unrelated to Rome or Romania (which derives from Rome).


Another term for Gypsies is "Travellers". However, there are also several groups of indigenous European "Travellers" who, despite a somewhat similar nomadic lifestyle, are not Gypsies. The most well-known are of Irish or Scottish descent.


Map Gipsies' Migration

The Gypsy do not have a written history and thus most of the information about their history has been inferred, based on linguistics, genetics, and historical records of the countries where they have resided.[4]

Based on linguistic evidence, the Roma originated in North India. The term Roma is argued to be similar to a collective term for the ancient aboriginal populations of the Indian subcontinent. Many remained outcastes or tribals, but some were assimilated into the lower strata of the caste system by the Indo-Aryans. A 2012 study found genetic support for that the European Roma are related to these groups. An invasion of Northern India by Ghaznavids around the year 1000 may have started the migration.[5]

Historical studies have stated that the Gypsies migrated to Europe between the 5th and 10th century. It has been argued that their migration route included Persia, Armenia, Anatolia, and Greece. The Roma then settled in multiple locations within Europe and were widespread in Europe by the 15th century; descendants of these migrants currently live primarily in the Balkans, Spain, and Portugal.[4]

Early traveling Gypsies often presented themselves as being on a pilgrimage and often presented letters which claimed authorities had given them safe passage. "The allegedly religious motivation for their journey enabled them to be received in a friendly and hospitable way. In this respect, the obligation to supply pilgrims with food, lodging and money, an obligation which was taken very seriously by medieval society, suited them very well. Entries in various books of expenses show that this Christian duty was fulfilled everywhere, at least on the Roma’s first appearance."[2]

They have also traveled from the Balkans into Western Europe in several waves, in the 19th - early 20th century, after the abolition of slavery in Rumania and more recently, after the Fall of Communism.[6] The European Union has a principle of "free movement of people", which has made it is easier to travel temporarily or to migrate permanently.

Population expansion

Gipsies from Sliven, Bulgaria

A very small size of the original population is suggested by the fact that although most of the migrants arriving in Europe in the 11th-12th century remained within the limits of the Ottoman Empire, the overall number of Roma in its Balkan provinces in the 15th century was estimated at only 17,000.[6]

Today there are 10-12 million Gypsies in Europe - a number larger than the population of several countries.[7]

In the United States, the Gypsies are undocumented by the U.S. Census. One approximation is that there are one million Gypsies in the United States.[8]

The Gypsy population continues to grow rapidly. Gypsy girls traditionally marry between the ages of 14 and 17. Fertility is high: 3.0 children per woman in Bulgaria, 3.03 in Serbia, 3.12 in Hungary, 3.2 in Bratislava, 3.3 to 3.7 for “some” groups in Romania, 3.9 in Croatia, and 4.3 in Eastern Slovakia. This can be compared with 1.1 and 1.4 children per woman by 2000 in former Communist countries.[7]


Several studies of the IQ of Gypsies have found average IQs ranging from 70 to 83.[9]

The average IQs of Gypsies in different countries have been stated to be 85 in Slovenia, 83 in Slovakia, 70 in Serbia, and 60 in Romania.[7]

A 2015 meta-analysis stated an average IQ of 74.[10]

During a Slovak study in the 90s, 23 510 children in the age of 6 – 14 years in the district of Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, were given a Wechsler Scale test. A total of 510 children (2,16 %) were diagnosed as mentally retarded (with an IQ 70 or less). 0,9 % of the non-Gypsies were diagnosed as mentally retarded, as opposed to 21,5 % Gypsies. Although the Gypsy children constituted only 6 % of the testing sample, they counted for 60,7 % of the mentally retarded. [11]

Differential K theory

The Gypsies have been stated to be a low K group (see the article on the Differential K theory).[7]

The fertility is high (see above), pregnancies are one week shorter than among European women, and children are smaller at birth–both, biological traits associated with a high-fertility, r-type reproduction.[7]

Living conditions

The usual living conditions in Europe have been described as "Roma communities tend to be segregated and characterized by poverty, unemployment, poor education and poor quality housing. Throughout Europe, the Roma experience social exclusion, a lower life-expectancy (ten to fifteen years lower than the European average), have a higher infant mortality rate and an unemployment rate of up to 80 percent."[7]

Attempted integrations

Many attempts to improve the living conditions and/or integrate the Gypsies into the larger society has been tried. Sometimes these attempts have involved the use of force in order to settle down, educate, and assimilate the Gypsies. All such attempt have been stated to have been without success.[7]

Voluntary segregation from and crimes against non-Gypsy

Gypsies have been stated to have traditions that emphasize voluntary separation from mainstream societies. Many do not send their children to school or work alongside non-Gypsies. The culture has been accused of encouraging crimes against the non-Gypsy, often involving scams and burglaries, and often against the elderly.[12]

An article based on the book The Roma: A Balkan Underclass stated that "Gypsies are unpopular with Europeans to this day: “Many recent public opinion polls confirm that the Roma are by far the most unpopular social group, commonly considered a major burden on slender public resources.” [...] Gypsies, for their part, do not think highly of the gadjé (their term for non-Gypsies). They have a concept of ritual purity according to which gadjé are considered unclean: “[M]ost groups restrict their interaction with outsiders to economic transactions and brief encounters with officials or institutional representatives such as welfare or hospital staff.” They do not view stealing from or cheating gadjé as morally wrong. Gypsy girls are not permitted to marry gadjé, and are shunned if they do. Gypsy men occasionally take European wives, but the woman must promise to adopt Gypsy ways."[7]

A politically correct view is that Gypsy criminality is not related to the Gypsy culture, but done by a minority, which has been compared to the Sicilian Mafia within the larger population of Sicilians.[8]

The self-segregation may be a response to the cognitive demands of European society.[7]

A 2001 article described several popular forms of cons and other crimes by Gypsies in the US, involving fortunetelling, home repairs, home invasions, distraction thefts, and insurance/financial frauds. New kinds of crimes were also being developed. The article also stated that "Gypsies rarely work alone and are always in pairs or more and always use family" and "Gypsy crime is dependent upon the ignorance of the police and public alike. Mobility, disguises, false identification, lack of communication, reporting and prosecution are counted on by the Gypsies".[13]

In 2012-13, 5% of the prisoner in England and Wales considered themselves Gypsy, Romany or Traveller. In secure training centres which hold young people between 12 and 18 years old, the figure was 12%. This despite "Gypsy or Irish Traveller" only being 0.1% of the general population, according to the the 2011 census.[14]

Criminality by children

Gypsy crime gangs have been stated to traffic Gypsy children to and from countries to mug, steal and rob - using violence if necessary. The reason for keeping the children moving between different countries is so that they can not be 'traced' to the adults exploiting them. Because of their age, it is difficult for the police to arrest the minors, and even if they are spoken to they are normally let off with a caution.[15]

Thousands of Roma children were stated in 2009 to be involved in begging and stealing. Madrid police said that 95% of children under 14 that they pick up stealing on the streets are Roma from Romania. A crime boss told the BBC that many of the fabulous villas in a Romanian city were built on the proceeds of crime committed all over the world.[16]

Use of welfare system

In Central and South-Eastern Europe, an average of 46.8 percent of Roma families receive social assistance; 56.8 percent receive child support payments. In Bulgaria, 90% live on state benefits. In Britain, their "skillful manipulation of [the] benefits system has brought an outcry from the media, police, and charities for the homeless."[7]

One reason for migration to Western Europe has been stated to be much more beneficial welfare systems.[17][18]

See also

External Links

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  1. Gypsy. Etymology online.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Arrival in Europe. E
  3. Gyp. Etymology online.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Moorjani P, Patterson N, Loh P-R, Lipson M, Kisfali P, et al. (2013) Reconstructing Roma History from Genome-Wide Data. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58633. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058633
  5. Rai N, Chaubey G, Tamang R, Pathak AK, Singh VK, et al. (2012) 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
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kalaydjieva L, Gresham D, Calafell F (2001) Genetic studies of the Roma (Gypsies): a review. BMC Med Genet 2 ():5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Europe's First Underclass. American Renaissance.
  8. 8.0 8.1 American Gypsies Are a Persecuted Minority That Is Starting to Fight Back. 12.22.13. The Daily Beast.
  9. General mental ability in South Asians: Data from three Roma (Gypsy) communities in Serbia, J. Philippe Rushtona, Jelena Čvorovićb and Trudy Ann Bons, Intelligence, Volume 35, Issue 1, January–February 2007,
  10. Marginal tribes, disparate outcomes.
  11. Kvasnicová, M. – Puskailerová, D. – Csomóová, E. – Hlaváčová, G. – Horňáková, V. – Kohút, V. – Žabková, V.: Geneticky podmienená mentálna retardácia v okrese Banská Bystrica. Čs. pediatrie, č. 1, 1992. s. 25 – 28.
  12. Gypsies: the Usual Suspects. January 30, 2006. LA Times.
  13. Gypsies: Kings of Con. June 2001. Police Magazine. 2001.
  14. One in 20 prisoners of Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background, says HMIP. Press Association. The Guardian, Tuesday 11 March 2014 19.14 GMT.
  15. Roma gypsy children 'are trafficked to and from Britain to steal for international criminal network', Paris court hears. Published: 06:38 EST, 24 September 2012 Updated: 13:40 EST, 24 September 2012. Daily Mail.
  16. How Gypsy gangs use child thieves. 03:02 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 04:02 UK. BBC.
  17. Smirking Roma migrants boast: We get FIVE TIMES more cash in Benefits Britain. Published: 00:00, Sat, November 16, 2013. Daily Expres.
  18. 'I know it’s easy to take benefits in England’: Gipsies who move to Britain reveal how they claim thousands of pounds every month as part of their bundle of benefits even though they do not work. Published: 13:11 GMT, 3 April 2014 | Updated: 14:47 GMT, 3 April 2014. Daily Mail.
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