Gypsies, also called Roma or Romani people, possess a deep, rich history that includes their origin, worldwide demographics, continual persecution, vivid culture and isolation. Linguistic and genetic evidence traces westward migrations of Gypsies from their origins in northern India to the Arabian Peninsula, going on to reach Europe around 1250. Gypsies total about 12 million with populations in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia and Hungary. Besides the million or so in America, gypsies also live in Russia, Slovakia, Spain and France.
No matter where they went, Gypsies found no welcome. Europeans enslaved many Gypsies, a practice that continued well into the 19th century. During medieval times, England, Switzerland and Denmark executed Gypsies, while Germany, Italy and Portugal banished Gypsies.
Gypsy culture is vivid, lively and exclusively their own. Gypsy music is known to have influenced many genres, including jazz, bolero and flamenco. Gypsy music also influenced classical composer Franz Liszt. Gypsy culture also celebrates weddings, that typically last three days, blending Orthodox rituals and Gypsy customs. Mock abductions, crowns for brides and grooms, dancing and singing involve the families and friends in the highly festive gala events.
Due to cultural isolation, Gypsy children often forgo schooling, which leads to lack of stable employment. Gypsy communities living in Europe frequently suffer from poverty, substance abuse and crime. In Italy, Gypsies live in camps in which the people live in crude metal structures, denied governmental assistance.