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Roma of Croatia

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Title: Roma of Croatia  
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Subject: Demographics of Croatia, Islam in Croatia
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Roma of Croatia

Croatian Roma
Roma women wearing traditional dresses and their children near Zagreb in 1941
Total population
16,675 (2011 census)[1]
30,000 to 40,000 (estimates)[2][3][4]
Romani and Croatian
Roman Catholicism
Sunni Islam
Eastern Orthodoxy[5]
Related ethnic groups
Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Roma in Serbia and Roma in Hungary

Roma are an ethnic group 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 Roma in Croatia or 0.4% of the population.[1] In 2001, more than half of the Roma population was located in the Međimurje County and the City of Zagreb.[6][7] Various estimates place the actual Roma population at 30,000-40,000,[2][3][4] with some up to 60,000.[2] A considerable number of Roma refugees in Croatia from the ethnic conflict in Bosnia.[8]

In the 2011 census, the largest religious groups among the Roma were Catholics (8,299 or 49.77% of them), Muslims (5,039 or 30.22% of them) and Eastern Orthodoxy (2,381 or 14.02% of them).[9]

There are more than 120 Roma minority NGO's in Croatia.[9] One of the most prominent is Croatian Roma Union.


Roma were first time mentioned in Republic of Ragusa in 1362 in some commercial records.[8] Ten years later, Roma are mentioned in Zagreb, where they were merchants, tailors and butchers.[8]

Various Roma groups have lived in Croatia since the 14th century.[4]

In the Middle Ages Roma were part of cities population and they lived together with rest of population. According to litteras promotorias, nomad Roma groups also get privilege to resolve independently all intragroup conflicts.[10]

Maria Theresa and Joseph II with their regulations from 1761, 1767 and 1783 forbade Roma 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.[10]

Large groups of Roma arrived in Croatia in the 19th century from Romania after abolition of Roma slavery in 1855.[10]

World War II

Further information: Porajmos
Further information: Jasenovac concentration camp

Many Croatian Roma, as well as members of other minority groups like Serbs and Jews, were murdered by the ustasha during World War II.[11]



Main article: Romani language

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


In the 2011 census, the largest religious groups among the Roma were Catholics (8,299 or 49.77% of them), Muslims (5,039 or 30.22% of them) and Eastern Orthodoxy (2,381 or 14.02% of them).[9]

Roma in modern Croatia

In the Republic of Croatia, Roma 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.[3][4] 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.[5] An additional risk is poor housing conditions, inadequate water supply and electricity infrastructure in Roma settlements, poor health care and low average level of education.[5]

In the Croatian parliamentary election, 2007, the Roma minority elected their first dedicated member of Croatian Parliament. In 2010, Roma were added to the preamble of the Croatian Constitution and thereby recognized as one of the autochthonous national minorities.[12] They elect a special representative to the Croatian Parliament shared with members of eleven other national minorities.[13] 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.[14]

Roma in Međimurje County

According to estimates and available data, at the beginning of 2009 in Međimurje County lived about 5,500 Roma, which makes 4.7% of total population that made them largest national minority in county.[15] According to Census 2011, 2,887 people (2.44%) declared themselves as Roma.[6] Difference between Census and the actual situation can be explained by avoidance of Roma 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 Roma minority although at that time in municipality there were little Roma settlement with about 70 people (that no longer exists).[15]

Altogether there are twelve settlements in Medjimurje with Roma minority. Concentration of Roma in some settlements, and is some cases in certain peripheral streets of some settlements and very small number of Roma in other settlements show territorial segregation of Roma in county.[15] In more than half of Međimurje municipalities Roma are not present or are present in very small number.[15]


External links

  • The UN Refugee Agency - Chronology for Roma in Croatia
  • Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor
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