Flamenco (Spanish pronunciation: [flaˈmeŋko]) is a genre of Spanish music, song, and dance from Andalusia, in southern Spain, that includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance) and palmas (handclaps). First mentioned in literature in 1774, the genre grew out of Andalusian and Romani music and dance styles. 
In recent years flamenco has become popular all over the world and is taught in many countries: in Japan there are more academies than there are in Spain. On November 16, 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The compás is fundamental to flamenco. Without it, there is no flamenco. Compás is most often translated as rhythm but it demands far more precise interpretation than other Western styles of music. If there is no guitarist available, the compás is rendered through hand clapping (palmas) or by hitting a table with the knuckles. The guitarist uses techniques like strumming (rasgueado) or tapping the soundboard. Changes of chords emphasize the most important downbeats.
Flamenco uses three basic counts or measures: Binary, Ternary and the (unique to flamenco) twelve-beat cycle. There are also free-form styles including, among others, the tonás, saetas, malagueñas, tarantos, and some types of fandangos.
"Flamenco nuevo" is a recent style in flamenco, characterized by pared-down costumes (the men often dance bare-chested, and the women in plain jersey dresses). Props such as castanets, fans and shawls are rarely used. Dances are choreographed and include influences from other dance styles.
The flamenco most foreigners are familiar with is a style that was developed as a spectacle for tourists. To add variety, group dances are included, and even solos are more likely to be choreographed. The frilly, voluminous spotted dresses are derived from a style of dress worn for the annual Feria in Seville (the original is actually too tight to dance in).
In traditional flamenco, young people are not considered to have the emotional maturity to adequately convey the "duende" (soul) of the genre. Therefore unlike other dance forms, where dancers turn professional early to take advantage of youth and strength, many flamenco dancers do not hit their peak until their thirties and will continue to perform into their fifties and beyond.