Flamenco (Spanish pronunciation: [flaˈmeŋko]), in its strictest sense, is an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain, developed within the gitano subculture of the region of Andalusia, but also having a historical presence in Extremadura and Murcia. In a wider sense, it is a portmanteau term used to refer to a variety of both contemporary and traditional musical styles typical of southern Spain. Flamenco is closely associated to the gitanos of the Romani ethnicity who have contributed significantly to its origination and professionalization. However, its style is uniquely Andalusian and flamenco artists have historically included Spaniards of both gitano and non-gitano heritage.
The oldest record of flamenco music dates to 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso. The development of flamenco over the past two centuries is well documented: "the theatre movement of sainetes (one-act plays) and tonadillas, popular song books and song sheets, customs, studies of dances, and toques, perfection, newspapers, graphic documents in paintings and engravings. ... in continuous evolution together with rhythm, the poetic stanzas, and the ambiance.”
Flamenco is rooted in various Andalusian popular musical styles, although its origins and influences are the subject of many hypotheses which may or may not have ideological implications and none of which are necessarily mutually exclusive. The most widespread is that flamenco was developed through the cross-cultural interchange among the various groups which coexisted in close proximity in Andalusia's lower classes, combining southern Spain's indigenous, Byzantine, Moorish and Romani musical traditions.
On 16 November 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.