Roma society is not known well. Many people who speak about Roma reality only repeat half-way thesis about the issue. I wil try to share basic informations about Roma society in this article. No doubt, i won't say anything new here. On the other hand, i believe that summarizing these basic knowledges will help many people regarding Roma issues and even many Roma individuals too.
Roma is a society. Just like Albanians, Circasssians, Macedonians, Georgians, Bulgarians, Serbians and Bosnians... There are two basic elements which make Roma a society. The first is Roma history. The ancestors of Roma who live in different regions today shared a common past. Roma language and Roma culture is a direct result of this history. The Roma language and the Roma culture is the second element which makes Roma a society.
Roma history starts in India. Invasions and wars ravaging India at least 1000 years ago caused the ancestors of Roma to leave the country. They came to the Anatolia on where Byzantium Empire were ruling at those days. They met some other tribes who subsist on commercial nomadism in the Empire. They coalesced with them and some other indigineous people. They became a new distinct society in time. They named their language as Romanes and themselves as Roma.
Romani language is openly related with Indian languages. In addition to this, it's also influenced by Persian, Caucasian languages and Greek. Though there are many different dialects of Romani, speakers of Romani dialects primarily in Balkans can easily communicate with eachother.
The biggest Roma population lives in Balkans and the big west European Countries. The highest percentage of population rate of Roma is in Balkans and western Anatolia. Though it's lower than one percent in the other parts of Europe, it's higher than one percent in Balkans and western Anatolia. In some part of the geography, it's higher than two percent. Most of the speakers of Romani languages also live in this geography.
Total Roma population is still uncertain. According to the states in where Roma live the total population of Roma is more than five million. If we depend on the numbers of European Commission, it's more then ten million. Anyway, it's certain that more than half of total Roma population live in Balkans and western Anatolia.
Roma are majority in nowhere even in Balkans and western Anadolia in where it's population rate is more than one percent. Except Romani neighbourhoods of which population is never higher than fifty thousand, Roma is a minority in everywhere. There are many places in Balkans that Albanians or Macedonians or Bulgarians are majority. But there is no land in the world in which Roma are majority.
The case is also a direct result of Roma history. The ancestors of Roma, who were obliged to leave India, lost anykind of sources they had have. They lost their agricultural land, herds or forestal areas. The only way to subsist under these circumstances was commercial nomadism. So that they started to provide some services and prepare some craft productions for nomadic herders and settled agriculturalists in exhange of food. The most known Roma occupations were basket-making, tinsmithing, musicianship, folk medicine, coppersmithing, animal traning and blacksmithing.
Roma tribes subsisting on these occupations seperated to smaller groups to reach a more wider population of clients and they migrated to a wider geography day by day. As a result of this process Roma society whose population is not more than ten million even today started to live in almost every part of the europe. This is the reason of the case that Roma is a society which is so widespread but always minority. The only exception of the situation of being minority is the Romani neighbourhoods (mahala). Even they were small groups, Roma had the opportunity to live in solidarity and to remain their culture in Romani neighbourhoods. Roma individuals who left the neighbourhoods generally lost their culture and identity in a few generations.
Most of the traditional Roma occupations were lost with development of the industry. Modern industry makes these occupations useless. Many Roma individuals facing extreme poverty under these circumstances started to work in jobs with low income and unpreferred by the rest of society.
Howkind of a future awaits Roma? What will happen in the future of this young European society? Surely, it's not possible to answer this question certainly. Neverthless, it's certain that the clues of this future is hidden in the history and contemporary situation of Roma. As we know the history and contemporary situation of Roma, we will have much more opportunity to influence the future of Roma.