Gypsies have long been among the most mysterious, exotic peoples on earth.
Romanticised as free spirits, hounded for being different, the people who call themselves Roma fight for their place in a hostile world.
They have been described as a race of nomads, who have no real home, but their native country is Romania, where they always were a vulnerable minority. Their ancestors came from India.
Whenever they arrived in Europe, curiosity was soon followed by hostility and xenophobia. They were subject to expulsion, abduction of their children, and forced labour. During World War II the Nazis murdered hundreds of thousands of gypsies.
In Portugal, the gypsies, called 'Ciganos', also survive at society's margins. They are the ethnic group that the Portuguese most reject and discriminate, being also the object of discriminatory practices from the State. For this minority group, access to employment, housing, and social services is hard to get. Most gypsy communities live below poverty line.
There is a gypsy community in Madeira.
Do you have a gypsy neighbour? A gypsy friend?
Watch this video about Nomadic Gypsies in Portugal.
Take a look at this photo of Gypsy Children.
Photos credits: Gypsy Queen Beggar, by Yequem46, TrekEarth; Gypsy Musicians, Romania, and Gypsy Farmer and Scythe, Romania, by Tomasz Tomaszewski, National Geographic; France , August 2010, by Associated Press, Kyiv Post.com; Gypsy Women, Gypsy Woman (Bairro da Sapateira, Portugal), by Rui Dias Monteiro, A.23 Online