It’s an unfortunate truth that some people, on hearing the word ‘Romania’, automatically associate it with the word ‘gypsies’. It is a stigma that I know really grates on many Romanian people. A lot of the people and families I’ve got to know here, have very strong feelings about the issue of the Roma (Romani or Rom) community, and their consequent negative reflection on Romania as a Nation.

Roma people are widely spread across much of Eastern and Southern Europe  as well as other parts of the world – their origin traces back to India and they first settled across Europe during the 1400s. They are of a completely different and unrelated ethnic group to Romanians and they should not be confused with each other – but more often than not, they are. It seems that due to their unfortunate likeness in spelling, Romanian people and Romani people have been thoughtlessly tied together until the end of time. A surprising fact is that the U.S.A and Spain actually have more Roma settlers than Romania does – yet these countries aren’t as strongly associated with Roma  as Romania is.

This negative association between the country and Roma community has caused many bad feelings to arise. Most Romanians extremely dislike the Roma and think that the government should do more to tackle the issues surrounding them.

Romanians want the world to know that they are not part of the Roma community. So much so, that in recent years I.D cards were changed here so that the Nationality code did not read ROM (short for Romanian) it was changed to ROU – due to the fact that Rom is a frequently used term for people of the Roma community. People here were furious that their I.D cards and Passports literally labelled them under this local term for Roma people.

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There are many Roma people here, it’s true – and with that comes an entire set of issues and opinions that could fill an entire blog. However, I think it’s about time that Romania stops being ‘pigeon holed’ as a nation full of ‘gypsies’ in this way. It is very detrimental to the country’s image, development and to the Romanian people who are just like you and me.

Equally, the Romani people themselves are subjected to a lot of negative stereotypes, which is just as unfair. The Romani culture is vast and somewhat misunderstood due to the lifestyle and actions of just a portion of the Roma community.

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