Balkan Egyptians or simply Egyptians (Egjiptian; Египћани, Egipćani or Ђупци, Đupci; Египќанци, Egipkjanci or Ѓупци, Gjupci; Агупти, Agupti — in the Rhodopes) are an Albanian-speaking ethnic minority of Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, and Albania. They are not to be confused with the Egyptians of Egypt, to whom they may or may not be related. In Serbia and Montenegro, they went by other names like Black Montenegrins and Romano-Palestinians, but the origins of the nicknames are unknown and made their ethnological history uncertain.
Balkan Egyptians were previously regarded as part of the Roma nationality, but now they are recognized as an ethnic minority. Their origin is not clear. According to one theory, they are descendants of Roma who claim to have come to the Balkans from Egypt. Another theory claims that they are descendants of the Egyptian soldiers who came to Balkans in the 4th century. Another theory by some analysis was their ancestry as Black and Palestinian goes back to the Biblical land of Palestine and even from Tripoli in Libya, North Africa.
Balkan Egyptians: A short presentation about their history of identity building, migration waves and ethno-cultural characteristics
Europe and especially the Balkan Peninsula are the areas with a great historical experience, the areas with a many wars and conflict of interests of the main world's powers in the past and in the present time, and of course the areas that were and are the targets of many migration waves.
If we make a retrospective view in the history of Balkan, we may see that the ethnic element didn't had a special interests in political, cultural and scientist life until the end of XVIII and beginning of XIX century, when in Europe and in Balkan were started to be created the nations and national states. The full report is available here:
Most of the Balkan Egyptians live in Kosovo, but they are also present in Albania, Central Serbia, Vojvodina, Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Romania.
According to 1994 data, there were 87,000 Egyptians in Kosovo, while according to 2002 census in the Republic of Macedonia, 3,843 Egyptians lived in this country.
Despite the fact that ethnic Roma are also in some languages referred to by terms derived from the word "Egyptian" (compare the English name "Gypsy" for Roma), the Serbs who live in Kosovo do not use the name "Egyptians" to designate ethnic Roma, but only to the Albanian speakers who refer to themselves as "Egyptians", while the Serbian name for ethnic Roma is "Cigani" which is considered offensive in some areas. Albanians that live in Kosovo, however, use name "Magjup," also sometimes offensive, that is presumably derived from the word "Egyptian" to refer to the Balkan Egyptians.
A 14th-century reference to a placename (Агѹповы клѣти, Agupovy klěti) in the Rila Charter of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria is thought to be related to the Balkan Egyptians according to some authors, such as Konstantin Josef Jireček.
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Balkan Egyptians have been recognised by Minority Rights Group as European minority, for further information please visit: Minority Rights Group