[an-dawr-uh, -dor-uh; Sp. ahn-dawr-rah]

Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d'Andorra), is a small landlocked country in western Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. Once isolated, it is currently a prosperous country mainly because of tourism and its status as a tax haven. The people of Andorra are currently listed as having the highest human life expectancy in the world, at an average of 83.5 years at birth (2007 est). Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, after Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican City.

Origin and history of the name

The name "Andorra" is of unknown origin, but according to Joan Coromines is pre-Roman. The name Andorra may be derived from al-Darra (الدّارة), the Arabic word for forest. Many of the local toponyms are of Iberian origin.


Tradition holds that Charles the Great (Charlemagne) granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for fighting against the Moors. Overlordship of the territory was of the local count of Urgell and eventually to the bishop of the diocese of Urgell. In 988 Borrell II count of Urgell gave the Andorran valleys to the Diocese of Urgell when the count expanded to the south. Since then the Bishop of Urgell, locally known as the bishop of the la Seu d'Urgell, has owned Andorra.

Andorra hadn't any type of protection and the Bishop of Urgell, who knew that the Count of Urgell wanted to reclaim the Andorran valleys, decided to ask for help and protection from the Lord of Caboet. In 1095, the Lord of Caboet and the Bishop of la Seu d'Urgell signed under oath the recognition of their sovereignty over Andorra. Arnalda, daughter of Arnau of Caboet, married the Viscount of Castellbò and both became Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya. Years later their daughter, Ermessenda, married Roger Bernat II of the French Count of Foix. They became Roger Bernat II and Ermessenda I Counts of Foix, Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya and also sovereigns of Andorra (shared with the Bishop of Urgell).

In the eleventh century a dispute arose between the bishop of la Seu d'Urgell and Count of Foix. The conflict was resolved in 1278 by the signing of the first paréage, with the mediation of Aragon, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the bishop of Urgell, in Catalonia. This gave the small principality its territory and political form.

Over the years the title passed to the kings of Navarre, and after Henry of Navarre became King Henry IV of France he issued an edict (1607) that established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra.

In the period 1812–13, the First French Empire annexed Catalonia and divided it in four départements. Andorra was also annexed and made part of the district of Puigcerdà (département of Sègre).

Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany during World War I but did not actually take part in the fighting. It remained in an official state of belligerency until 1957 as it was not included in the Versailles Peace Treaty.

In 1933 France occupied Andorra as a result of social unrest before elections. On July 12, 1934, an adventurer named Boris Skossyreff issued a proclamation in Urgell, declaring himself Boris I, sovereign prince of Andorra, simultaneously declaring war on the bishop of Urgell. He was arrested by Spanish authorities on July 20 and ultimately expelled from Spain. From 1936 to 1940, a French detachment was garrisoned in Andorra to prevent influences of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's Spain. Francoist troops reached the Andorran border in the later stages of the war.

During World War II, Andorra remained neutral and was an important smuggling route between Vichy France and Spain.

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. Its political system was thoroughly modernized in 1993, the year in which it became a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe.


Andorra is a co-principality with the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell, Spain, as co-princes, in a duumvirate. The politics of Andorra take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, whereby the Prime Minister of Andorra is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The current Prime Minister is Albert Pintat Santolaria of the Andorran Liberal Party (PLA).

Responsibility for defending Andorra rests with Spain and France. Andorra currently has no military force.


Image:Andorramap.png|thumb|right|250px|Map of Andorra with its seven parishes labeled rect 34 350 121 404 Andorra la Vella rect 443 148 519 172 Canillo rect 437 363 520 389 Encamp rect 352 443 464 498 Escaldes-Engordany rect 36 223 155 247 La Massana rect 284 78 354 103 Ordino rect 208 567 304 618 Sant Julià de Lòria rect 651 54 745 83 France rect 484 583 560 619 Spain

Andorra consists of seven parishes:


Due to its location in the eastern Pyrenees mountain range, Andorra consists predominantly of rugged mountains of an average height of with the highest being the Coma Pedrosa at . 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 ). Andorra's surface area is .

Andorra's climate is similar to that of its neighbours' temperate climates, but its higher altitude means there is, on average, more snow in winter and it is slightly cooler in summer.

Phytogeographically, Andorra belongs to the Atlantic European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Andorra belongs to the ecoregion of Pyrenees conifer and mixed forests.


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 adjoining 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. Some tobacco is grown locally. The principal livestock activity is domestic sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra's natural resources include hydroelectric power, mineral water, timber, iron ore, and lead.

Andorra is not a full member of the European Union, but enjoys a special relationship with it, such as being 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 surrounding nations. Prior to 1999 these were the French franc and the Spanish peseta, which have since been both replaced by the EU's single currency, the euro. Andorra is negotiating to issue its own euro coins.


Andorrans are a minority in their own country; Spaniards, Portuguese, French, Britons, and Italians resident in Andorra make up 67.7% of the population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Andorra has the world's longest life expectancy: 83.5 years.


The national language is Catalan, a Romance language. Andorra is one of only four European countries (together with France, Monaco, and Turkey) that have never signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities.


The population of Andorra is predominantly Roman Catholic. Their patron saint is Our Lady of Meritxell.


The official and historic language is Catalan. Because of immigration, historical links, and close geographic proximity, other languages such as Spanish and French are also commonly spoken.

Andorra's long history has provided it with a rich folklore and an abundance of folk tales, with roots originating as far as Andalusia in the south and the Netherlands in the north.

Andorran culture is Catalan in essence. In significant and easily identifiable ways it has contributed to the conglomerate of Catalan culture.

Two writers renowned in Catalonia and the region, Michèle Gazier and Ramon Villeró, both come from Andorra.

Andorra is home to folk dances like the contrapàs and marratxa, which survive in Sant Julià de Lòria especially. Andorran folk music has similarities to the music of its neighbors, but is especially Catalan in character, especially in the presence of dances such as the sardana. Other Andorran folk dances include contrapàs in Andorra la Vella and Saint Anne's dance in Escaldes-Engordany.

Andorra's national holiday is Our Lady of Meritxell Day, September 8.

See also


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