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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 Napoleon'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. However it is the only country in Europe or North America which has not signed the treaty banning the development, storage, and use of biological weapons.

If reference to Andorra appears in any media except for their occasional appearance in sport (mostly skiers, though their football team played England recently), 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 rulers, 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 leader 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.

It is not in Africa.

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").


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