Country Listing

Yugoslavia Table of Contents



Yugoslavia had one of the largest Gypsy populations in the world. The 1981 census officially recorded 168,099 Gypsies in the country, but unofficial counts estimated the Gypsy population as five to six times larger. The Gypsies suffered many serious social problems, and intolerance of Gypsies by other ethnic groups was still prevalent in the northern parts of Yugoslavia in the 1980s. A high percentage of Gypsies were illiterate or had only a few years of primary education. Despite government attempts to lure them into schools and paying jobs, many Gypsies continued to live a nomadic existence as traders, beggars, and fortune-tellers. During the 1980s, large conventions periodically demanded full recognition of Yugoslav Gypsies as a separate nationality; the federal government reached no decision on their proposals, although some concessions were made. Meanwhile, the Gypsies undeniably added a unique element to Yugoslav culture: Gypsy musicians played at most weddings, and Gypsy street bands played music for handouts on holiday weekends.

Data as of December 1990