Communities around the world

Roma/ Gypsies

The Roma originally came from the Indian subcontinent, which they left about a thousand years ago. They entered Europe in the 13th Century. When they arrived in Europe they were thought to be from Egypt and were called Egyptians, which is where the word "Gypsy" comes from.

Romani Flag

The wheel-shaped, sixteen-spoked chakra, was adopted as the international Romani symbol at the first Romani conference in 1971 held in London.

There are now substantial Roma/Gypsy populations across the world.

Romani culture is diverse with many traditions and all groups have their own individual beliefs and customs. There is no universal culture, but there are attributes common to all Roma, including: loyalty to family; standards and rules; and adaptability to changing conditions.

In April 2005 the European Parliament adopted a ‘Resolution on the Situation of Roma in the European Union’, which is a milestone in the recognition of Roma rights concerns as a matter of the highest political concern in Europe. The resolution notes a range of concerns regarding their fundamental human rights and calls on all agencies to act without delay to correct the ongoing Roma rights crisis.

There have been many famous Roma/Gypsies that have a great impact in all areas of human endeavour. Find out more on this website dedicated to highlighting these achievements.

Roma Characteristics

The following characteristics apply to the many Roma groups and communities around the world:

  • Roma may be nomadic, semi-sedentary, or sedentary
  • Roma may live in trailers (caravans), horse-drawn wagons (vardos), or housing
  • Roma speak Romanes though fluency and knowledge varies according to usage
  • Roma may live in rural or urban areas
  • Some Roma have not historically accessed formal education and are non-literate, while others have and achieved a great deal
  • Most Roma have always referred to themselves as Rom or Roma, meaning "Man" or "People." Many UK Roma, who have been here for many centuries would call themselves Gypsy or Traveller.

The Romani language has many spoken dialects, but is of Indo-Aryan origin. The root language of Romani is ancient Punjabi with loan words borrowed from the many countries the migrations of the Roma have taken them. The spoken Romani language is varied, but all dialects contain some common words in use by all Roma.


Child with tattooThere have been many large-scale, state-sponsored persecutions, or pogroms, against the Roma throughout European history. The Nazi terror of World War II is the most infamous and is responsible for the deaths of up to 1 million Roma in the Porrajmos (in Romani meaning the Devouring).

See the History Section of this website to read more on persecution throughout time.



Roma Today

Many Roma have recently arrived in the UK as refugees or asylum seekers from Eastern Europe, fleeing violence following the collapse of communist governments. Many have faced extreme prejudice and hostility here and many have been imprisoned and deported.

Throughout Europe Roma have been marginalised and their basic human rights have been abused. The Romani people remain the least integrated and the most persecuted people of Europe.

There is an attempt to re-dress the balance and raise awareness through A Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005 - 2015, which 10 countries have agreed to participate in. Unfortunately no Western European country is presently involved and it would be a great step for the UK to take this positive initiative and join with its European partners in this vital work.

The First World Romani Congress was held in London in 1971. There were important decisions taken:

  • The wheel-shaped, sixteen-spoked chakra, was adopted as the international Romani symbol.
  • The green and blue flag with a red chakra in the centre was adopted as the Romani flag, as well as the motto "Opré Roma" (Roma Arise).
  • The song "Gelem, gelem" was selected as the Romani anthem;
  • April 8 was proclaimed International Romani Day

Gelem, Gelem: Romani Anthem

Gelem, gelem, lungone dromensa
Maladilem bahktale Romensa
A Romale katar tumen aven,
E tsarensa bahktale dromensa?

A Romale, A Chavale

Vi man sas ek bari familiya,
Murdadas la e kali legiya*
Aven mansa sa lumniake Roma,
Kai putaile e romane droma
Ake vriama, usti Rom akana,
Men khutasa misto kai kerasa

A Romale, A Chavale


I went, I went on long roads
I met happy Roma
O Roma where do you come from,
With tents on happy roads?

O Roma, O fellow Roma

I once had a great family,
The Black Legions* murdered them
Come with me Roma from all the world
For the Romani roads have opened
Now is the time, rise up Roma now,
We will rise high if we act
O Roma, O fellow Roma

* Nazi SS Officers dressed in black

For more details see this web page

Visit now

Listen to the anthem on YouTube



Around the site

Gypsy Council

The Gypsy Council is involved in a wide spectrum of support and liaison work, supporting Gypsy families in planning applications and their fight for decent legal places to live. Read more about the organisation and maybe consider joining.


Romano Suno

Romano Suno

This is a collection of Romany Children's Writing and Artwork.

The creations on this page come from a book that compiles work from its first five years. We've included the original language as well!


Also read about

Famous Roma/ Gypsies

A web page presenting some famous people who are/were Roma or have/ had Romany ancestry.

Visit website


A good link for Roma Discussion

According the topics on

Discuss here

Send your questions, inquiries, proposals to Valery Novoselsky, with the word "IDEA" in the "Subject" line.

Email Valery


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