Romani in Slovakia
Total population
67,179[1] (2021 census)
Romani and other languages (Slovak, Hungarian)

According to the last census from 2021, there were 67,179 persons counted as Romani people in Slovakia, or 1.23% of the population.[1] However, the number of Roma is usually underreported, with estimates placing the Roma population at 5-6% of the population. Thus the actual number of Roma may be over half a million.[2]



The Romani people in Slovakia originate from Northern India,[3][4][5][6] from the northwestern Indian regions of Rajasthan and Punjab.[7][8]

The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indo-Aryan languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines.[9]

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.[10]

Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group.[4][5][11] 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 modern European Roma.[12]

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.[13]

Migration to Slovakia

Roma children in Eastern Slovakia
A Roma settlement in the region of Šariš
The Roma minority in Slovakia (census 2001)

The first record of sightings of small groups of Romani within the area of present-day Slovakia are from 1322 AD, when the region was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Major waves of Romani nomads were recorded from 1417 onwards. In 1423 they received a decree from the Hungarian king Sigismund of Luxemburg at Szepes Castle, granting them Europe-wide right of passage and the right to settle. They proved to be useful metal workers for the royal armies fighting the Turks.[14]

Through the ensuing centuries, whilst in western and central Europe Romani were treated violently and often expelled, the Hungarian Kingdom and Habsburg Monarchy in general provided a tolerant and stable safe-haven for the Romani community. In the 18th century, Joseph II of the house of Habsburg attempted to 'civilize' the Romani, for example by prohibiting their dress and customs and educating them. However these efforts generally failed.

20th century

Main article: Romani people in Czechoslovakia

After the repressive Romani policies of the first Czechoslovak Republic[15] (1918-1939), the communist government of 1948-1989 attempted to integrate the Romani into the majority population through obligatory education and employment, and the formation of Romani organizations. The nomadic way of life was banned in 1958. Parts of the Romani population were also resettled from Slovakia into the country's Czech regions.

Though these policies were partly successful,[16] after the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the Romani have once again found themselves on the margins of the society. On the one hand, there is a generous social system, but the system fails to effectively integrate them into the mainstream society.

Discrimination in education

Roma people suffer serious discrimination in Slovakia. Roma children are segregated in school and do not receive the same level of education as Slovak children. Some are sent to schools for children with mild mental disabilities. As a result, their attainment level is far below average.[17] Amnesty International's report "Unfulfilled promises: Failing to end segregation of Roma pupils in Slovakia" describes the failure of the Slovak authorities to end the discrimination of Roma children on the grounds of their ethnicity in education. According to a 2012 United Nations Development Programme survey, around 43 per cent of Roma in mainstream schools attended ethnically segregated classes.[18]

Forced sterilisation

A human rights fact finding mission found widespread violations of Romani women's human rights including forced sterilisations, racially discriminatory access to health care and physical and verbal abuse by medical staff amongst others. The report from 2003 states that there was a "clear and consistent patterns of health-care providers who disregarded the need for obtaining informed consent to sterilization and who failed to provide accurate and comprehensive reproductive health information to Romani patients."[19]

The accusations of forced sterilization have been claimed to be false, eg. in a paper published by a Non-governmental organization stating that it was "aimed at proving an earlier assumed hypothesis, highly popular in the media. It did not bring any specific knowledge, no hard data, thanks to which we could say that some truth was revealed. This is, to put it shortly, an example of a harmful action on the part of NGOs."[20] However, many cases have been confirmed, for instance by the European Court of Human Rights.[21] In 2021 the Slovak government apologised for forced sterilisations of thousands of Roma women. [22] Also in 2021, the Czech Republic passed a compensation bill. [23]


Roma are the victims of ethnically driven violence and crime in Slovakia. According to monitoring and reports provided by the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) in 2013, racist violence, evictions, threats, and more subtle forms of discrimination have increased over the past two years in Slovakia. The ERRC considers the situation in Slovakia to be one of the worst in Europe, as of 2013.[24]

Social help

Romani people receive new housing from municipalities and regional administrations for free every year, however people complain that some of them end up being destroyed by Romani people themselves.[25][26][27][28] After the destruction, in some cases it has happened that the residents receive new housing, without being criminally prosecuted for destroying state property.[29]

Public opinion

The 2019 Pew Research poll found that 76% of Slovaks held unfavorable views of Roma.[30]

Y-Dna result of Slovak Romani men

Notable Romani people living or born in the area of present-day Slovakia

See also


  1. ^ a b "Obyvatelia - Základné výsledky" (in Slovak). Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  2. ^ "Minorities and indigenous peoples in Slovakia". 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  3. ^ Hancock, Ian F. (2005) [2002]. We are the Romani People. Univ of Hertfordshire Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-902806-19-8: ‘While a nine century removal from India has diluted Indian biological connection to the extent that for some Romani groups, it may be hardly representative today, Sarren (1976:72) concluded that we still remain together, genetically, Asian rather than European’((cite book)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  4. ^ 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. hdl:10230/25348. PMID 23219723.
  5. ^ a b Sindya N. Bhanoo (11 December 2012). "Genomic Study Traces Roma to Northern India". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Current Biology.
  7. ^ K. Meira Goldberg; Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum; Michelle Heffner Hayes (2015-09-28). Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives. p. 50. ISBN 9780786494705. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  8. ^ Simon Broughton; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo (1999). World Music: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. p. 147. ISBN 9781858286358. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  9. ^ Šebková, Hana; Žlnayová, Edita (1998), Nástin mluvnice slovenské romštiny (pro pedagogické účely) (PDF), Ústí nad Labem: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity J. E. Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem, p. 4, ISBN 978-80-7044-205-0, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04
  10. ^ Hübschmannová, Milena (1995). "Romaňi čhib – romština: Několik základních informací o romském jazyku". Bulletin Muzea Romské Kultury. Brno: Muzeum romské kultury (4/1995). Zatímco romská lexika je bližší hindštině, marvárštině, pandžábštině atd., v gramatické sféře nacházíme mnoho shod s východoindickým jazykem, s bengálštinou.
  11. ^ "5 Intriguing Facts About the Roma". Live Science. 23 October 2013.
  12. ^ 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, Bibcode:2012PLoSO...748477R, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477, PMC 3509117, PMID 23209554
  13. ^ "Can Romas be part of Indian diaspora?". 29 February 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  14. ^ Macsó, Kinga (2018-12-01). "The 'Roma Question' in Slovakia". Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, European and Regional Studies. 14 (1): 71–83. doi:10.2478/auseur-2018-0012. ISSN 2068-7583.
  15. ^ Bank, World (2002). Chudoba Rómov a sociálna starostlivost̕ o nich v Slovenskej republike. ISBN 9788088991144.
  16. ^ Crowe, D. (2016-04-30). A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia. ISBN 9781349606719.
  17. ^ "Roma rights". Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  18. ^ "Slovak authorities in breach of obligations to Romani school children | Amnesty International". Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  19. ^ "BODY AND SOUL Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia" (PDF). Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a l'udské práva , in consultation with Ina Zoon. Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a l’udské práva (Centre for Civil and Human Rights or Poradna). Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  20. ^ Pikulicka-Wilczewska, Agnieszka (12 July 2016). "Real and imagined problems of the Roma community in Slovakia". New Eastern Europe. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  21. ^ "European Court of Human Rights Finds Slovakia violated Romani women's rights in another involuntary sterilization case". 14 November 2012.
  22. ^ "Slovakia apologises for forced sterilisations of Roma women". 25 November 2021.
  23. ^ "Czech Republic: Hard won justice for women survivors of unlawful sterilization". 22 July 2021.
  24. ^ Lake, Aaron (2013-12-25). "The New Roma Ghettos | VICE | United States". Retrieved 2016-05-21.
  25. ^ "VIDEO Zhorela im bytovka, unimobunky od mesta zničili. Teraz Rómovia nariekajú: Žijeme ako psy!". (in Slovak). Archived from the original on 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  26. ^ "Video: V Trnave búrajú bytovku, ktorú zničili Rómovia". (in Slovak). 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  27. ^ "Takto si Rómovia zničili bývanie v Žiline". (in Slovak). 4 February 2014. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  28. ^ "Rómovia odmietajú ísť do zdevastovaných bytov, ktoré sami zničili". (in Slovak). 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  29. ^ "Rómovia zničili bytovku, dostali náhradné bývanie". (in Slovak). 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  30. ^ "European Public Opinion Three Decades After the Fall of Communism — 6. Minority groups". Pew Research Center. 14 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Distribution of Y-haplogroups in Slovak Romany population (n=200)". Retrieved 8 April 2023.