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Useful Notes / Andorra

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Andorra, officially known as the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d'Andorra) and also called Principality of the Valleys of Andorra (Catalan: Principat de les Valls d'Andorra), is a dinky little Southern European mountain principality wedged between France and Spain, up in the Pyrenees mountains. Originally part of the lands of the Bishop of Urgell, Andorra managed to stay independent of both France and Spain for most of its history, with a few exceptions - it was gobbled up by Napoléon Bonaparte's France in 1812-13, and France occupied her again in 1933 after a wideboy named Boris Skossyreff declared himself sovereign of Andorra and tried to declare war on the Bishop of Urgell. Once again, French troops marched in in 1936 to prevent Andorra getting sucked into the Spanish Civil War, and stayed until they were needed elsewhere in 1940. After that, the country was occupied by Germany, and would remain thus until the final collapse of German power in Western Europe.

Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany during World War I, but was overlooked when the peace treaties were signed, so technically remained at war with Germany until 1957, when someone noticed and a separate peace was concluded.

These days, Andorra is a quiet, prosperous little spot. Like many dinky little European principalities, it makes a nice living as a tax haven and its mountainous location makes it a popular ski resort. Its official language is Catalan.

If reference to Andorra appears in any media except for their occasional appearance in sport (mostly skiers, though their football team played England recently, and the country occasionally hosts stages of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España), be very surprised. There is a play by Swiss author Max Frisch with this name, but the country Andorra it's set in is in fact fictional, a symbol, if you will.

Andorra's main oddity is that it has two simultaneous heads of state, formally known as the Co-Princes, and neither of them is Andorran: one is the Bishop of Urgell and the other the President of France. This makes the latter the world's only republican head of state to also be a reigning monarch, as well as an elected one. The Bishop of Urgell, however, is one of the Roman Catholic religious leaders that also leads a country, the other being the head of the Roman Catholic Church and world's smallest state called Vatican City, the Pope, who serves as its appointer. Of course, neither of the Co-Princes actually runs the government, a task that falls to the elected Prime Minister of Andorra.

Andorra is also the largest country without an airport—Its small size and mountainous terrain means an airport just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. While smaller countries with airports do exist, they're all island nations (e.g. Malta and Nauru), meaning an airport makes more sense there than in Andorra.

Andorra is not an EU member, though the two have a customs union. The country officially maintains an open border policy, which, in theory, allows anyone with a passport or an EU ID card to enter. Since Andorra has no airport and borders only France and Spain, this means that anyone who wants to enter Andorra must be able to enter either of those countries first.

It is not in Africa.

Not to be confused with Andoria, one of the founders of The Federation.

Andorra in Popular Culture

The Andorran flag
The flag's colors allude to those of France and Spain. At the center is the coat-of-arms, displaying a quartered shield with the arms of La Seu d'Urgell in Spain (upper left, bishop's miter and staff), Foix in France (upper right, three red columns on yellow field), Catalonia (lower left, four red columns on yellow field) and Béarn in France (lower right, two red cows on yellow field); below is the national motto: "Virtus Unita Fortior" (Latin for "United Virtue is Stronger").

The Andorran national anthem

El gran Carlemany, mon pare,
dels alarbs em deslliurà,
I del cel vida em donà,
de Meritxell, la gran Mare.

Princesa nasquí i Pubilla
entre dues nacions, neutral;
sols resto l'única filla,
de l'imperi Carlemany.

Creient i lliure onze segles,
creient i lliure vull ser.
Siguin els furs mos tutors
i mos Prínceps defensors!
I mos Prínceps defensors!

The great Charlemagne, my father,
from the Saracens liberated me
And from heaven he gave me life,
of Meritxell, the great Mother.

Princess, born Heiress
Into two nations, in neutrality;
I am the only remaining daughter,
of the Carolingian empire.

Faithful and free for eleven centuries,
Faithful and free I will be.
The laws of the land be my tutors,
and my Princes defenders!
And my Princes defenders!

  • Unitary parliamentary semi-elective diarchy
    • Co-Princes: Joan Enric Vives Sicília and Emmanuel Macron
    • Representatives: Josep Maria Mauri and Patrick Strzoda
    • Prime Minister: Xavier Espot Zamora
    • General Syndic: Carles Enseñat Reig

  • Capital and largest city: Andorra la Vella
  • Population: 77,543
  • Area: 467.63 sq km (180.55 sq mi) (178th)
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: AD
  • Country calling code: 376
  • Highest point: Coma Pedrosa (2942 m/9,652 ft) (69th)
  • Lowest point: Gran Valira (840 m/2,756 ft) (77th)