Indicator history

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Roma & Travellers' population

Key Area:
Migration & Minority Demographics/Statistics
Demographics & Economics
17/02/2012 - 16:27
Short Answer

There is no legal definition of ethnic minority in Portuguese law and the Instituto Nacional de Estatística [National Statistics Institute] does not demand any information concerning the ethnic belonging of the individuals.

Qualitative Info

Estimates on Roma population are the only information available, but they are not always very reliable. In 2001, the association SOS Racismo [SOS Racism] launched a nationwide inquiry before 307 Municipal Councils, of which 206 responded, and arrived at the number of 21,831, an underestimation, according to SOS Racismo itself. After pondering this number SOS Racismo situated the total number of Portuguese Roma at around 40,000. Portuguese authorities in its national reports to CERD used this same figure, referring SOS Racismo inquiry. The researcher Alexandra Castro, of the Centro de Estudos Territoriais [Centre for Territorial Studies] also sent an inquiry to local councils and to the Guarda Nacional Republicana [National Republican Guard – a police force] in 2006, which, combined with data collected by SOS Racismo, represents coverage of about 75.5per cent of the national territory. The estimate that was arrived at was about 34,000 Roma living in Portuguese territory. The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), of the Council of Europe mentions, in its third report on Portugal, refers the existence of about 40,000 to 50,000 Roma living in Portugal, but no reference whatsoever is given as to how this estimate was arrived at.



SOS Racismo (2001) Sastipen ta li, Saúde e Liberdade. Ciganos – números, abordagens e realidades. [Health and Freedom. Roma – numbers, approaches and realities] Lisboa: Ed. SOS Racismo

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination CERD (2004) UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: State Party Report, Portugal, 6 May 2004, CERD/C/447/Add.1 Available at:

CASTRO, A. (2007), Dos Contextos Locais à Invisibilização Política. Discussão em Torno dos Ciclos de Exclusão Habitacional dos Ciganos em Portugal. [From Local Contexts to Political Invisibility. Discussion around the Cycles of Housing Exclusion of Roma in Portugal] In Cidades, Comunidades e Territórios 15

% of country population
Official or estimates
main ethnic groups
Groups affected/interested Roma & Travelers
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Daily life
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