Andorra, or Principality of Andorra, a country high in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. Scenic valleys and rugged mountains that crest at elevations up to about 10,000 feet (3,000 m) make up most of the terrain. The chief river is the Valira, which flows southward into Spain. Winters are cold, with deep snow lasting for months; summers are warm and relatively dry.
|Facts in brief about Andorra|
|Capital: Andorra la Vella.|
|Official language: Catalan.|
|Area: 181 mi2 (468 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, about 16 mi (26 km); east-west, about 19 mi (31 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Coma Pedrosa, 9,665 ft (2,946 m) above sea level. Lowest—2,756 ft (840 m) above sea level.|
|Population: Current estimate—79,000; population density, 436 per mi2 (169 per km2); distribution, 91 percent urban, 9 percent rural. 2004 official government estimate—76,875.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—cattle, grains, sheep, tobacco. Manufacturing—furniture, tobacco products.|
|Flag: Andorra's national flag, used by the people, has blue, yellow, and red vertical stripes (left to right). The state flag, used by the government has a coat of arms on the yellow stripe.|
|Money: Basic unit—euro. One hundred cents equal one euro. The French franc and Spanish peseta were taken out of circulation in 2002.|
Tourism is probably the most important part of the economy. The raising of livestock and hardy crops, for centuries the main economic activity, remains important. Iron ore and lead are mined. Manufacturing consists almost entirely of the making of a few consumer goods, including tobacco products and handicraft items. Hydroelectric power is generated and sold to Spain and France. Good roads link Andorra with its neighbors; there are no railways or airports.
The basic currency unit is the euro.
Catalan is the official language; Spanish and French are also used. Virtually all the people are Roman Catholics. Andorra maintains schools up to the lower secondary level. Attendance is compulsory from age 7 through age 15.
Andorra is a constitutional co-principality. Two officials—the president of France and the Bishop of Urgel in Spain—serve as princes in the purely ceremonial position of head of state. Andorra is a parliamentary democracy. Legislative authority is vested in the General Council, which is made up of 28 popularly elected members. The head of government is appointed by the Council.
Because of its small size and isolated location, Andorra has remained outside the mainstream of European history. Its present boundaries were established in 1278, when the Spanish Bishop of Urgel and the French Count of Foix agreed to rule as co-princes, ending a long dispute. French rights passed eventually to the presidents of France. In a national referendum in 1993 Andorra approved its first constitution, which made it a fully sovereign nation. Also that year Andorra became a member of the United Nations.