Representing approximately 22% of the Romanian population in the interwar period, national minorities have registered a constant decline, today only 10% of citizens being part of a minority. In order not to forget the contribution and impact that these ethnic communities have had on the Romanian history and culture, the project “Minorities minor” presents cultural and historical elements inherited from 5 national minorities, less visible nowadays: Germans, Hebrews, Lippovans Russians, Ukrainians and Turks.
Ethnic demographic decline.
Since the establishment of Greater Romania (1918), ethnic minorities have undergone major changes at both demographic and structural level, some of them as a result of the deliberate policies of the State, some of them natural. According to the first modern census of Greater Romania (1930), in the current counties lived 3.157.507 people of different ethnicity than Romanian (22,11% of the population on the current Romanian territory). According to the last census (2011), 2.091.963 people from other ethnic groups (10.40% of the population) were living in Romania.
Decline of ethnic diversity.
The decline of minorities in the last century does not occur uniformly at demographic level. There is a massive loss at the level of ethnic diversity. In 2011, the demographically significant minorities were the Hungarians (6.97%) and the Romani (3.09%), which summed 10.06% of the total number of the population. The remaining ethnic minorities cumulated in 2011 only 1,21% of the total population. By comparison, in 1930, Hungarians and Romani cumulated 11,67% of the total population and the rest of the minorities cumulated 10.44% of the total population from the current Romanian territory. A number of ethnic groups have virtually disappeared from Romania. Although they represent important minorities, who have left a significant historical and cultural heritage until the Second World War, in the last century Romania lost 99,28% of Hebrews, 94,31% of Germans, 88,94% of Bulgarians, 88,82% of Armenians, 84,16% of Greeks etc.
The project addresses those minorities that, compared to the interwar period, are currently underrepresented demographically and, therefore, “less important” in terms of politics and media. We refer to minorities who are currently sub-unitary, totalling less than 1% of the Romanian population.
The Romanian culture and identity is based on a mosaic of material and immaterial values with considerable influences coming from the ethnic minorities. Among the material values we mention urban centres, traditional villages, fortifications, churches, art objects, etc. The immaterial patrimony is even vaster. Personalities from all minority groups have brought major contributions to literature, art, medicine and sciences. Specialized communities participated in the progress of trade, crafts, law, contributing to the political administrative organization of nowadays Romania and to the interconnection with cultural spaces from west and east.
The presence of ‘major’ minorities and the absence of “minor” minorities from the current public space.
All minorities have equal rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Romania and also by the Ordinance 137/2000 on the combat of discrimination (civic and political representation, access to education in their mother tongue, and so on). Currently, in Romania there are 20 recognized national minorities and at an associative level operate 19 representative organizations. The visibility and attention given to certain minorities reflects their current demographic size, often hiding the diversity of the cultural and historical heritage of the minorities in decline.