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The Romani people - also called Roma, Rromane, or Gypsies - are a semi-nomadic, stateless people found all over the Middle East and much of Europe. Originally hailing from southern Asia, in and around present-day Afghanistan and northern India, they are a fiercely independent culture with a reputation for refusing to assimilate to their host nations.

But, despite centuries of frosty relations with their neighbors, the Romani have endured - sometimes at the expense of others, often in spite of their great hardship - and retained a rich and varied culture all their own. The confused term "Gypsy" derives from the mistaken impression that Romanies were originally from Egypt and northern Africa.

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