Cities in ANDORRA
|Andorra la vella|
Geography and Landscape
The Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d’ Andorra, French: Principautéd’ Andorre, Spanish: Principado de Andorra: Andorran themselves call it Valls d’ Andorra) is located high in the Eastern Pyrenees, sandwiched between the Spanish province Catalonia (department of Alt Urgell) and the French department of Ariège.
Andorra Satellite PhotoPhoto: Public domain
Andorra's surface is almost 468 km2. To give an impression of the size of Andorra: Greater London area encompasses a total of 1,583 square kilometers.
Andorra LandscapePhoto: Public domain
The rugged mountain landscape of Andorra is characterized by steep cliffs, narrow valleys and green valleys, interspersed with gigantic mountain peaks. The lowest point does not drop below 900 meters and the highest mountain, the fairly easy to climb Pic de la Coma Pedrosa, is 2946 meters high and lies on the border with Spain to the west. With an average altitude of 1996 meters, Andorra is the highest country in Europe. The Port d’ Envalira is the highest mountain pass in the Pyrenees and is located at 2,408 meters.
Andorra is intersected by two clear rivers: the Valira d'Orient or Gran Valira and the Valira del Nord or d’ Ordino. The Gran Valira is located at an altitude of 840 meters, making it the lowest point of Andorra. The two rivers flow into the Segre, a tributary of the Ebro, the longest river of Spain.
Besides rivers, Andorra also has a number of small and large glacial lakes, including the estanys de l’ Angonella, the estanys de Juclar and the estanys de Tristaina (= three lakes), Estany del Mitg (at an altitude of 2,290 meters), Estany de Mès Amunt de Tristaina (at 2,310 meters) and Estany Primer (at 2,250 meters). The lakes are surrounded by the pic de Tristaina (2879 m) and the pic Fourcat (2862 m).
In the luxurious resort of La Caldea, water of 68°C rises at an altitude of 1000 meters from the springs of Escaldes-Engordany.
Climate and Weather
Andorra has a temperate climate with cold, damp winters with lots of snow and quite cool, dry summers. In summer the average temperature is 18°C and in winter it is an average of 4°C.
Andorra SnowePhoto: Christof Damian CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
Precipitation falls all year round, often in the form of snow in winter. Above 1500 meters more than half of the annual amount of precipitation falls in solid form. The first snow often falls in October, most snow falls in November and December. Andorra's highest peaks are rarely covered with snow in summer, but temperatures often hover around 0°C at night.
Climate data Les Elcaldes
November : 10°C
January: 34 mm
February: 37 mm
March: 46 mm
April: 63 mm
May: 105 mm
June : 69 mm
July: 65 mm
August: 98 mm
September: 81 mm
October: 73 mm
November: 68 mm
December: 69 mm
Plants and Animals
Narcissus Poeticus, AndorraPhoto: Meneerke bloem CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
In total there are more than 1100 different plant species in Andorra. Some common varieties include the white flowering Narcissus poeticus or poet's daffodil (also called 'grandalla' in Andorra), the national flower of Andorra, as well as the bright yellow Trollius europaeus or ball flower and the blue flowering Aconitum napellus or poisonous monkshood.
Furthermore, large fields with alpine roses, on the south slopes the mountain pine up to 20 meters and on the wet north slopes the silver fir.
The Rialb Valley is known for its beautiful floral splendor with flowers such as the Pyrenean iris, white asphodel, alpine rose, Pyrenean lily, many varieties of orchids, ranunculus, sweetheart, alpine yellow anemone, forget-me-not and columbine.
The native Pyrenean serrated leaf with its large, pink, almost purple flowers, grows between 1400 and 2700 meters in meadows and along mountain streams and roads.
A selection from the flora of Andorra:
crooked calyx, creeping azalea, creeping nailwort, rock tea, fragrant mosquito orchid, vanilla orchid, paradise lily, alpine carnation, primrose, dwarf primrose, starburst, alpine tassel flower, brown clover, marsh marigold, pyramid green, yellow rose fennel, fennel red rose, spring gentian
Iberian Capricorn AndorraPhoto: Arturo de Frias CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Andorra's wildlife has a number of unique species, such as the nearly extinct Iberian ibex. Very special is also the Pyrenean desman, a 14 cm long type of water mole that lives in fast-flowing streams.
Wolves and Pyrenean brown bears, a subspecies of the European brown bear, have not been seen in Andorra for a long time. A bear was last seen in the mountains of Andorra in 1978. The following mammals are still regularly spotted: wild boar, marten, weasel, fox, hedgehog, badger, squirrel and alpine marmot. To the east of Andorra, in the Carlit massif, the mouflon has been successfully released.
Andorra Bearded VulturePhoto: Richard Bartz CC 2.5 Generic no changes made
Special birds are the capercaillie and the alpine snow grouse, but the three types of vultures are also welcome: griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, and bearded vulture. Birds of prey such as the long eagle, pygmy eagle, hawk eagle, kite, peregrine falcon and honey buzzard live scattered in the mountains.
The wall lizard and the viviparous lizard are still quite common, as are slow worms, vipers, aspis vipers, smooth snakes and lizard snakes. Two special salamander species are the fire salamander and the Pyrenean mountain salamander.
Antiquity and Middle Ages
Andorra Sant Joan de Caselles 11th centuryPhoto: Fer55 CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
People already lived in the valleys of modern Andorra in prehistoric times. These inhabitants were born in the 2nd century BC. first mentioned in a writing by the Greek historian Polybius.
The true story of Andorra's exact origins as an independent state is unknown, but it is certain that Andorra is one of the oldest states in Europe. Tradition has it that Charlemagne gave the Andorran independence in return for their participation in the fight against the Moors. Initially the Earl of Seu d’ Urgell and later the Bishop of Seu d’ Urgell was lord of Andorra. In the 11th century, the latter, after several attacks from neighbors, came under the protection of a Spanish nobleman.
Seal Roger-Bernard III AndorraPhoto: Paul Laplagne Barris in the public domain
After alternately under Spanish and French rule, Andorra came under the common sovereignty of the Bishop of Seu d’ Urgell, Pere d’ Urg, and the Earl of Foix, Roger Bernard III in 1278. The property of the House of Foix later passed on to the House of Bourbon and thus to the French crown. In 1419 the ‘Consell de la Terra’ was established, a simple parliament in which the heads of the main Andorran families sat. From the 16th to the 18th century, Andorra's political structure took shape and the aforementioned families strengthened their economic and political power.
In the 18th century, the economic and social conditions of the Andorran people improve and the population increases due to immigration. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Andorra became involved in a number of European conflicts that negatively affect the social and economic development of the country. For example, the governmental position of Andorra was not recognized by the revolutionary regime during the French Revolution.
In 1806, however, the status quo was restored by Napoleon himself. And from that time on, the role of French co-prince was played by the supreme authority of France. Since the second half of the 19th century, the episcopal co-princes have viewed developments with suspicion. They actually opposed any reform in Andorra and this often led to conflicts between the Andorrans and the bishop.
Boris Skossyreff AndorraPhoto: Public domain
In the 20th century a lot changed in Andorra, especially due to the accessibility via connecting roads with Spain (1913) and France (1933) and through modern communication techniques.
In 1933 France occupied Andorra because of social unrest before the elections. The unrest had to do with a popular movement that wanted to expand the electoral concession. On July 12, 1934, the adventurer Boris Skossyreff proclaimed himself Boris I, sovereign prince of Andorra in Urgell, and at the same time declared war on the bishop of Urgell. He was arrested again by the Spanish authorities on July 20 and eventually expelled from Spain. Between 1936 and 1940, a French detachment was stationed in Andorra to keep out influences from the Spanish Civil War and Franco's Spain.
This worked and during the Spanish Civil War and World War II Andorra remained neutral and was not affected by the war. In 1958 Andorra made peace with Germany. Andorra was on the side of the Entente during World War I but forgotten by the Treaty of Versailles and thus, legally speaking, was still at war with Germany.
Mainly due to tourism, an unparalleled economic boom has taken place since the 1960s, making Andorra one of the richest countries in the world.
The position of head of state was until 1993 in ’cohabitation’ shared by the Bishop of Seu d’ Urgell and the French President. In May of that year, Andorra received its first written constitution and the post of the bishop and president became primarily ceremonial in nature.
The parliamentary election1997 and 2001 were won by the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Marc Fornéi Molnè.
At the end of 2004, the government of Andorra agreed with the European Union to introduce a tax on interest on foreign savings in 2005. As a result, nothing stood in the way of further monetary cooperation with the EU and, as a non-member, Andorra is also strongly linked to the EU in political terms.
Albert Pintat of the center-right Liberal Party was elected prime minister in the 2005 general election. On June 5, 2009, the socialist Jaume Bartumeu Cassany becomes the new head of government as a result of the electoral victory of the Social Democrats. In November 2009, part of the 'Dos Valires' tunnel, which was due to open in 2010, broke down. The accident claimed the lives of five Portuguese employees.
Andorra Antoni MartiPhoto: Public domain
In the 2011 elections, the Democrats win for Andorra and Antoni Marti becomes the new prime minister. In June 2013 he introduced income tax for the first time in history under pressure from the European Union. In December 2016, parliament decided to ban the secret bank accounts of EU residents as of January 2018. In May 2019, Xavia Espot Zamora will become Andorra's new Prime Minister.
Andorra Street scenePhoto: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
After the Second World War, the small mountain republic had only 6,000 inhabitants, almost all descendants of Catalan families and predominantly speaking Catalan. At present, the population has increased more than tenfold, mainly due to foreign immigration.
Andorra is home to approximately 85,000 people (2017) and the population density is approximately 180 inhabitants per km2.
Natural population growth is 0.03% (2017)
Birth rate per 1000 inhabitants is 7.5 (2017)
Death rate per 1000 inhabitants is 7.3 (2017)
Life expectancy is 82.9 years, for men 80.7 and 85.2 years for women (2017)
The infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world at 3.6 per 1000 live births.
0-14 years: 14.4%
15-64 years: 70%
The Andorran people are a minority in their own country, as only 46% of the inhabitants hold the Andorran nationality. Spaniards, Portuguese and Franden are the most important other nationalities.
Manuscript In CatalanPhoto: Ferbr1 in the public domain
Besides the great cultural connection with the neighboring Spanish autonomous province of Catalonia, Catalan, a Romance language, is the only official national language in Andorra.
In addition to Catalan, Spanish and French are also spoken in the mini-state. English is becoming more and more common in trade.
Church AndorraPhoto: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
About 92% of Andorra's residents are Roman Catholic. There are also a small number of followers of Protestantism, Islam and Judaism. Andorra belongs to the Diocese of La Seu de Urgell. The patron saint of Andorra is Our Lady of Meritxell.
Andorra New Parliament BuildingPhoto: Enfo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Andorra has been feudally ruled over the centuries;political parties and trade unions were not allowed and until 1993 political parties were therefore not represented in parliament, which consisted only of individuals and groups.
Andorra is a co-principal under the common sovereignty of the French President and the Spanish Bishop of Seu d’ Urgell. However, after the creation of a new constitution in 1993, their functions have become primarily ceremonial in nature and the Andorrans have acquired their own sovereignty.
The day-to-day government of Andorra was established in 1982 and is made up of six ministers headed by a prime minister, who is elected by the parliament, the’ General Council’ . After several changes to the electoral system, Andorran indigenous residents aged 18 and over have been entitled to vote since December 1985.
The ‘General Council of the Valleys’ of Consell General de les Valls has 28 members who are elected for a term of four years. Each of the seven parishes provides two members for this main legislative body. The other fourteen members are elected through a district system. The MPs elect their president, the ‘Síndic’ , and the vice-president of parliament, the ‘Sub-Síndic’ . The Government or ‘Executive Council’ consists of a prime minister and six ministers. The Prime Minister is elected and appointed by the Consell General and is, in effect, the head of state. The government directs Andorra's national and international policies, governs the state and exercises regulatory authority.
With the 1993 constitutional reform, an independent judiciary was established. A number of fundamental rights were also included, including allowing trade unions, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the possibility of holding a referendum. The last time this was in 1993 on the draft constitution and on membership of the Council of Europe.
For the current political situation see chapter history.
Andorra administrative divisionPhoto: Aotearoa CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Since 1978 Andorra has been divided into seven administrative units, ‘parròquies’ or ‘comúns called: Andorra la Vella (also the capital), Canillo, Elcaldes-Engordany, Encamp, La Massana, Ordino and Sant Juliàthe Lòria.
There are also a few dozen villages and hamlets.
Andorra has several educational structures, including an Andorran system, a Spanish system, a French system and an English private system. All systems are free and compulsory education is compulsory up to the age of 16. Education is divided into three levels: kindergarten, primary and secondary education.
There are also a number of vocational training courses and an adult training course, including Catalan. The higher courses are a training school for nurses, a computer science school and the Open University.
Andorra Wine StorePhoto: Julo in the public domain
Economically, Andorra has always been strongly oriented towards Spain and under the Franco-régime the mountain state flourished as a tax haven or smuggling nest between the EU members France and Spain. At present, most of the trade in goods and services is still settled with Spain and, to a lesser extent, France. A trade agreement was signed with the European Union in June 1990 and a customs union was introduced for industrial products as well as special arrangements for agricultural products. This framework agreement with the EU was amended and expanded in 1991 and 1995.
After the political upheaval in Spain and accession to the EU, Andorra lost part of its special economic position. What remained was the significance of the country as the seat of commercial banks, as a tax haven and tourist (winter) attraction. Tourism (especially winter sports) and related sectors- retail, services- remain the main pillars of the economy, accounting for about 80% of GDP. About thirteen million tourists visit the principality every year. The GNP per inhabitant is $ 49,900 per year (2017).
Andorra Banking SectorPhoto: Kippelboy CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
After tourism, the banking sector is the most important economic sector due to Andorra's attractive tax environment. The 1993 constitution shifted from an economy based primarily on tax-free shopping to one based on the international banking sector and the financial offshore. The government, in the absence of income tax and other direct taxes, imposes duties on imports and financial transactions in order to generate state revenue.
Andorra ExportPhoto: R Haussman, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al. CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
There are hardly any other economic sources: neither agriculture nor industrial industry (tobacco processing, furniture production) are of any relevant size. Tobacco is mainly grown in the valley of Sant Juliàthe Lòria, up to 1600 meters altitude. The government is therefore struggling with financial shortages and a backlog of investments in insufficient infrastructure. Infrastructure, especially a missing airport, is therefore a major priority given the millions of tourists every year.
Due to declining economic activities, the government receives less income from import tax, which should account for 3/4 of the total income. Due to the narrow economic base and the fact that Andorra cannot meet its own domestic needs for industrial and agricultural products, economic growth is very small. The capital Andorra la Vella is the trading center of Andorra where many shopping tourists also make their trade. Andorra does not know airports or railways;most places can be reached via a bus connection.
Unemployment is still virtually nil: because Andorra cannot provide for its own labor needs, many French and Spaniards work there.
Holidays and Sightseeing
Situated in the heart of the Pyrenees and the highest state of Europe, small Andorra is a land of contrasts. Besides a beautiful nature, it is also a paradise for bargain hunters of mainly duty-free drinks, perfumery and cigarettes. The many billboards promoting their offers mar the landscape, but the approximately 9 million visitors a year, the shopkeepers and the hoteliers will often be a concern. This situation is not only characteristic of the capital Andorra la Vella, but also many villages no longer escape the negative excesses of mass tourism.
Madria-Perafita-Clalor Valley AndorraPhoto: Ferran Llorens CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
But Andorra remains a beautiful holiday destination with densely wooded valleys, alpine meadows, glacial landscapes and rugged mountains. Since 2004, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For sports enthusiasts, Andorra is a snow-sure ski destination from December to mid-May (including Pas de la Casa and Soldeu), but hikers and mountaineers also get their money's worth.
Villages like Ransol and Ordino are also very worthwhile to visit and you wouldn't expect a matrioshka (Russian dolls) and a pin museum here high in the Pyrenees. The Rossell Forge shows how iron was forged in Andorra in centuries past. Andorra also has hot springs, Caldea is the largest European hot water amusement park in the mountains.
Andorra la VellaPhoto: Gertjan R. CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
Andorra la Vella means Andorra the Old. It is the capital of the mini-state of Andorra. The old picturesque center of Andorra, Barri Antic’ is worth visiting. You will find many old stone streets and authentic houses. The icing on the cake is the historic Casa de la Vall parliament building, which means home of the valley. The building dates from 1580 and was initially the home of a prominent family. From 1702 the parliament of Andorra is housed in the building. The building houses a courtroom, among other things, and the Sala del Consell is widely regarded as the cosiest parliamentary chamber in the world. Winter sports enthusiasts will soon fall in love with Andorra la Vella, because from the Andorran capital you can be on the slopes in no time. Nice to alternate with a day in the city. The Grandvalira ski area has a total of 193 kilometers of slopes. By taking the bus and then the gondola, the area can be reached within 15 minutes from Andorra la Vella. Read more on the Andorra la Vella page of Landenweb.
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