Gypsies or gipsies, nomadic people found on every continent but most prominent in Spain and the Balkans. Despite much wandering they still cling to their identity and customs. Some still travel in small caravans, although many now live in settled communities.

They often earn a living as metalworkers, musicians, horse or car dealers, auto mechanics, and fortune-tellers. Most are Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christian. Their Indo-Iranian language, Romany, and their blood groupings are related to those found in NW India and adjoining areas, where they probably originated.

They went to Persia in the 1st millennium A.D. and have since divided into the Gitanos, Kalderash, Manush, Rom, and other groups. They had spread throughout Europe by the 16th cent. and appeared in North America in the late 1800s.

Estimates of the number of gypsies range widely, but there are perhaps 10 million worldwide; half a million died in Nazi CONCENTRATION CAMPS during World War II. Since the end of Communist rule in Europe, they have faced increased discrimination and persecution there, particularly in Romania.