The Principality of Andorra is a very small landlocked state in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains in between France and Spain. Once isolated and impoverished, it is currently a prosperous country mainly because of tourism and its status as a tax haven. Andorra is also part of the Catalan Countries.
|National motto: Virtus Unita Fortior
(Latin: Unity provides Strength)
|Capital||Andorra la Vella|
|French co-prince||Jacques Chirac|
|Bishop of Urgel and Spanish co-prince||Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia|
|Head of government||Marc Forné Molné|
- % water
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||El Gran Carlemany|
|(1) Prior to 1999: Fr. franc and Sp. peseta|
Main article: History of Andorra
Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting the Moors. Overlordship over the territory was passed to the local count of Urgell and eventually to the bishop of the diocese of Urgell. In the 11th century a dispute arose between the bishop and his northern French neighbour over Andorra.
In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the French count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the bishop of La Seu d'Urgell, in Catalonia. The pareage, a feudal institution recognising the principle of equality of rights shared by two rulers, gave the small principality its territory and political form.
Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transportation and communications have removed the country from its isolation and its political system was thoroughly modernised in 1993.
Main article: Politics of Andorra
Until very recently, Andorra's political system had no clear division of powers into executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. Ratified and approved in 1993, the constitution establishes Andorra as a sovereign parliamentary democracy that retains the co-princes as heads of state, but the head of government retains executive power. The two co-princes serve coequally with limited powers that do not include veto over government acts. They are represented in Andorra by a delegate.
Andorra's main legislative body is the unicameral General Council of the Valleys (Consell General de les Valls), a parliament of 28 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote, 14 from a single national constituency and 14 to represent each of the 7 parishes, with members serving four-year terms. The Andorran government is formed by the General Council electing the Head of Government (Cap de Govern), who then appoints ministers to the cabinet, the Executive Council (Govern).
Defense of the country is the responsibility of France and Spain.
Main article: Parishes of Andorra
Andorra consists of seven communities known as parishes (parròquies, singular - parròquia):
Main article: Geography of Andorra
Befitting its location in the eastern Pyrenees mountain range, Andorra consist predominantly of rugged mountains of an average height of 1,996 m with the highest being the Coma Pedrosa at 2,946 m. These are dissected by three narrow valleys in a Y shape that combine into one as the main stream, the Valira river, leaves the country for Spain (at Andorra's lowest point of 870 m).
Andorra's climate is similar to its neighbours' temperate climate, but its higher altitude means there is on average more snow in winter and it's slightly cooler in summer.
Main article: Economy of Andorra
Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts. Andorra's comparative advantage has recently eroded as the economies of neighbouring France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs.
The banking sector, with its tax haven status, also contributes substantially to the economy. Agricultural production is limited - only 2% of the land is arable - and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture.
Andorra is not a full member of the European Union, but enjoys a special relationship with it, e.g. it is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products. Andorra lacks a currency of its own and uses that of its two neighbours. Prior to 1999 these were the French franc and Spanish peseta, which have since been replaced by a single currency, the euro. Unlike other small European states that use the euro, Andorra does not mint its own euro coins.
Main article: Demographics of Andorra
Andorrans constitute a minority in their own country; only 33% holds the Andorran nationality. The largest group of foreign nationals is that of Spaniards (43%), with Portuguese (11%) and French (7%) nationals representing the other main groups. The remaining 6% belong to other nationalities.
The only official language is Catalan, the language of the Catalan Countries it is part of, including the neighbouring Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, with which Andorra shares many cultural traits, though Spanish and French are also commonly spoken. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism.
Main article: Culture of Andorra
- Andorra.ad - Main portal
- Govern d'Andorra - Official governmental site (in Catalan)
- History of Andorra
- Andorra Online - Information on various Andorran topics
- Andorra-Intern - Andorra Inside Information
- Andorra Banknotes
- Library of Congress Portals on the World - Andorra
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article, "Andorra" October 12,