Speakers and Numbers

Realistic estimations report that the number of Romani speakers in Europe is approx. 4.6 million. The table shown summarises these realistic estimations according to Bakker et al. (2000). Percentage (%) shows the approximate percentage of the Romani speaking Roma population in each country.

country speakers %
Albania 90.000 95%
Austria 20.000 80%
Belarus 27.000 95%
Belgium 10.000 80%
Bosnia-Herzegowina 40.000 90%
Bulgaria 600.000 80%
Croatia 28.000 80%
Czech Republic 140.000 50%
Denmark 1.500 90%
Estonia 1.100 90%
Finland 3.000 90%
France 215.000 70%
Germany 85.000 70%
Greece 160.000 90%
Hungary 260.000 50%
Italy 42.000 90%
Latvia 18.500 90%
Lithuania 4.000 90%
Macedonia 215.000 90%
Moldova 56.000 90%
Netherlands 7.000 90%
Poland 4.000 90%
Romania 1.030.000 80%
Russia 405.000 80%
Serbia and Montenegro 380.000 90%
Slovakia 300.000 60%
Slovenia 8.000 90%
Spain 1.000 1%
Sweden 9.500 90%
Turkey 280.000 70%
Ukraine 113.000 90%
United Kingdom 1.000 0,5%

Based on these approximate percentages of the Romani speaking Roma population in table 1, the total number of Roma in Europe amounts to 6.6 million people. More generous estimations refer to the total number of European Roma to be about 12 million. As the Roma have always been, and still are, a group which demographically can only be identified with difficulty, all numbers are assumptions and more or less realistic estimations. What is even more problematic is the different basis for these estimations which becomes apparent if we compare the basis for the numbers given for Austria and Spain. The number 25.000 given for the Austrian Roma includes the autochthonous Roma population and migrants who came as so-called guest workers from the middle of the 1960's onwards. Disregarded are the recent migrations from the Balkans and Eastern Europe which were caused by the various conflicts and the consequential bad economic situation. The number given for Spain only includes the autochthonous Roma population, the Calé. The same is valid for the number given for the UK: only the autochthonous Romanichal are included, working migrants of the last decades and recent migrants are not considered. Furthermore Portugal is missing in table 1 which – like most Western European countries – has a Roma population consisting of an autochthonous group which immigrated centuries ago, the Calé, members of Vlach groups who came from the late 19th century on and recent migrants from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. [ Classification]

Despite all problems with numbers, it is a fact, however, that there are some million Roma and some million Romani speakers in Europe.

References

Bakker, Peter (2001) Romani in Europe. In: Extra, Guus / Gorter, Durk (eds.) The Other Languages of Europe. Demographic, Sociolinguistic, and Educational Perspectives, Clevedon, pp. 293–313.
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