The Romani, or Roma, are a traditionally itinerant ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas, who originate from the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent, specifically from Northern India, presumably from the northwestern Indian states Rajasthan and Punjab. The Romani are widely known among English-speaking people by the exonym "Gypsies" (or "Gipsies"). However, according to many Romani people and academics who study them, the word has been tainted by its use as a racial slur and a pejorative connoting illegality and irregularity. Other exonyms are Ashkali and Sinti.
Romani are dispersed, with their concentrated populations in Europe — especially Central, Eastern and Southern Europe including Turkey, Spain and Southern France. They originated in Northern India and arrived in Mid-West Asia, then Europe, around 1,000 years ago, either separating from the Dom people or, at least, having a similar history; the ancestors of both the Romani and the Dom left North India sometime between the sixth and eleventh century.
Since the nineteenth century, some Romani have also migrated to the Americas. There are an estimated one million Roma in the United States; and 800,000 in Brazil, most of whose ancestors emigrated in the nineteenth century from eastern Europe. Brazil also includes some Romani descended from people deported by the government of Portugal during the Inquisition in the colonial era. In migrations since the late nineteenth century, Romani have also moved to other countries in South America and to Canada.
The Romani language is divided into several dialects, which add up to an estimated number of speakers larger than two million. The total number of Romani people is at least twice as large (several times as large according to high estimates). Many Romani are native speakers of the language current in their country of residence, or of mixed languages combining the two; those varieties are sometimes called Para-Romani.