The Roma people, or Gypsies as they are commonly called, have been living in Latvia since the 15th century. In 2003 there were around 8,000 officially registered Roma people in Latvia (0.36% of the total population), although in reality the number of Roma is around 15,000. The Roma are a minority with their own distinct traditions and features, and from the majority point of view could be viewed as well-integrated into Latvian society – 92% are Latvian citizens (the highest percentage of citizens among Roma people in European countries), and 66% speak Latvian freely. On the other hand, the negative stereotypes and prejudices against Roma people are as widespread in Latvian society as they are elsewhere in Europe. The study The Situation of Roma in Latvia, carried out by the Latvian Centre for Human Rights in 2004 showed that Roma experience both direct and indirect discrimination in the same areas as in other Central and Eastern European countries.
The photos were taken during the photo-journalistic research project “Roma in Latvia” while gathering materials about Roma society and their environment in towns where Roma people have traditionally lived.