Romani people in Croatia
Romani women wearing traditional dresses and their children near Zagreb in 1941
|(16,675 (2011 census)
30,000 to 40,000 (estimates))
|Romani and Croatian|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Roma in Serbia and Roma in Hungary|
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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. In 2001, more than half of the Romani population was located in the Međimurje County and the City of Zagreb. Various estimates place the actual Romani population at 30,000-40,000, with some up to 60,000. A considerable number of Romani refugees in Croatia from the ethnic conflict in Bosnia.
The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of 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.
Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group. 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 Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of the modern European Roma.
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.
Migration to Croatia
Romani people were first time mentioned in Republic of Ragusa in 1362 in some commercial records. Ten years later, Romani are mentioned in Zagreb, where they were merchants, tailors and butchers.
Various Romani groups have lived in Croatia since the 14th century.
In the Middle Ages Romani were part of cities population and they lived together with rest of population. According to litteras promotorias, nomad Romani groups also get privilege to resolve independently all intragroup conflicts.
Maria Theresa and Joseph II with their regulations from 1761, 1767 and 1783 forbade Romani nomadic lifestyle, forced them to accept a local clothing code and language, made state regulations on personal and family names and they limited their choice of profession.
Large groups of Romani arrived in Croatia in the 19th century from Romania after abolition of Romani slavery in 1855.
World War II
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. According to a survey conducted in 1998, 70% of surveyed families at the time did not have permanently employed family member, 21% had one member, and 6% had two permanently employed members. An additional risk is poor housing conditions, inadequate water supply and electricity infrastructure in Romani settlements, poor health care and low average level of education.
The Romani elect a special representative to the Croatian Parliament shared with members of eleven other national minorities. The first such member of parliament (Nazif Mememdi) was elected in the 2007 parliamentary election. Memedi also became the first ever Romani to be elected to the Croatian Parliament. In 2010, Romani were added to the preamble of the Croatian Constitution and thereby recognized as one of the autochthonous national minorities. Since 2012 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb introduced for the first time courses Romani language I and Literature and culture of Roma.
Romani in Međimurje County
According to estimates and available data, at the beginning of 2009 in Međimurje County lived about 5,500 Romani, which makes 4.7% of total population that made them largest national minority in county. According to Census 2011, 2,887 people (2.44%) declared themselves as Romani. Difference between Census and the actual situation can be explained by avoidance of Romani to declare their minority affiliation due to stigmatization. As example of this situation can be seen Donja Dubrava municipality that according to 2001 census didn't have a single member of Romani minority although at that time in municipality there were little Romani settlement with about 70 people (that no longer exists).
Altogether there are twelve settlements in Medjimurje with Romani minority. Concentration of Romani in some settlements, and is some cases in certain peripheral streets of some settlements and very small number of Romani in other settlements show territorial segregation of Romani in county. In more than half of Međimurje municipalities Romani are not present or are present in very small number.
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