Gypsies, Portuguese

   Since the late 15th century, gypsies or ciganos (Portuguese) have resided in Portugal. Gypsies, whose ancestors originated in India many centuries before, today call themselves Roma. Gypsies have long cultivated a strict social and legal code, as well as their own language and customs. The gypsies speak an ancient language, Romany, which includes elements of Hindi and other languages encountered during their migrations from the east. In 2007, it was estimated that approximately 40,000 gypsies resided in Portugal, primarily near larger urban areas, including Lisbon, Esto- ril, and other cities. In historical tradition, the gypsies were migratory or lived isolated in slums or ghettos and suffered persecution. Among the groups murdered by Adolf Hitler's Nazis before and during World War II were large numbers of gypsies in Germany, Poland, Russia, and other countries. In democratic Portugal, there has been a greater governmental effort to integrate the Roma into Portuguese polity and society by enforcing public school attendance and providing social and health services. Like the Roma of other countries in Western Europe, the Roma of Portugal have become better organized to advocate for their identity, traditions, and civil and human rights. Like other groups of minorities in the country, they have received attention from various organizations of the European Union, as well as from nongovernmental organizations.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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