Definitions

country

cross-country skiing

Skiing in open country over rolling, hilly terrain. It originated in Scandinavia as a means of travel as well as recreation. The skies used are longer, narrower, and lighter than those used in Alpine skiing, and bindings allow more heel movement. The standard lengths of international races range from 10 to 50 km (6.2–31 mi) for men and 5 to 30 km (3.1–18.6 mi) for women. It has been included on the Olympics program since the first Winter Olympics in 1924.

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Long-distance running over open country. It developed as a competitive event in the mid-19th century. Though originally included in the revived Olympics, it was dropped after 1924 as not suitable for summer competition (most cross-country races are held in the fall or early winter). The first international women's competition was held in 1967. Standard distances are 12,000 m (7.5 mi) for men, and 2,000–5,000 m (1.25–3 mi) for women. Though rules for championship competitions have been established, world records are not kept because of the varying difficulty of courses.

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or country and western

Musical style that originated among whites in rural areas of the southern and western U.S. The term country and western music was adopted by the music industry in 1949 to replace the derogatory hillbilly music. Its roots lie in the music of the European settlers of the Appalachians and other areas. In the early 1920s the genre began to be commercially recorded; Fiddlin' John Carson recorded its first hit. Radio programs such as Nashville's Grand Ole Opry and Chicago's National Barn Dance fueled its growth, and growing numbers of musicians, such as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, began performing on radio and in recording studios. With the migration of Southern whites to industrial cities in the 1930s and '40s, country music was exposed to new influences, such as blues and gospel music. Its nostalgic bias, with its lyrics about poverty, heartbreak, and homesickness, held special appeal during a time of great population shifts. In the 1930s “singing cowboy” film stars, such as Gene Autry, altered country lyrics to produce a synthetic “western” music. Other variants include western swing (see Bob Wills) and honky-tonk (see Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams). In the 1940s there was an effort to return to country's root values (see bluegrass), but commercialization proved a stronger influence, and in the 1950s and '60s country music became a huge commercial enterprise. Popular singers often recorded songs in a Nashville style, while many country music recordings employed lush orchestral backgrounds. Country music has become increasingly acceptable to urban audiences, retaining its vitality with diverse performers such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, Emmylou Harris, and Lyle Lovett. Despite the influence of other styles, it has retained an unmistakable character as one of the few truly indigenous American musical styles.

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or contredanse

Type of social dance for couples, popular in the 17th century. Derived from English folk dance, the country dance is performed in one of three forms: circular or round; “longways,” with rows of couples facing each other; and geometric, in squares or triangles. The main source of country-dance steps and songs is John Playford's The English Dancing Master (1650). The dance was the basis for the 19th-century quadrille. It was taken by colonists to North America as the Virginia reel and, in modified form, as the square dance. There was a modest revival in the 20th century.

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Region, western central Jamaica. Covering some 500 sq mi (1,300 sq km), the area has typical karst topography, with conical hills rising above sinkholes with sharp, precipitous sides (called “cockpits”). This inhospitable terrain provided refuge for runaway slaves, who became guerrilla fighters when the English conquered Jamaica in 1665. Their descendants today number about 5,000 and still maintain some independence: all land belongs to the community, they pay no taxes, and the central government may interfere only in case of a capital crime.

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French Pays Basque

Cultural region, extreme southwestern France. It extends from the Anie Peak of the Pyrenees to the coast around Biarritz on the Bay of Biscay. The region has been largely spared the problems associated with Basque separatism in Spain's Basque Country. Fishing and tourism are economic mainstays.

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