Context of Andorra

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked country and microstate on the Iberian Peninsula, in the eastern Pyrenees, bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south. Believed to have been created by Charlemagne, Andorra was ruled by the count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell. The present principality was formed by a charter in 1278. It is currently headed by two co-princes: the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain and the president of France. Its capital and largest city is Andorra la Vella.

Andorra is the sixth-smallest state in Europe, with an area of 468 square kilometres (181 sq mi) and a population of approximately 79,034. The Andorran people are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalonian descent. Andorra is the world's 16th-smallest country by land ...Read more

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked country and microstate on the Iberian Peninsula, in the eastern Pyrenees, bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south. Believed to have been created by Charlemagne, Andorra was ruled by the count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell. The present principality was formed by a charter in 1278. It is currently headed by two co-princes: the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain and the president of France. Its capital and largest city is Andorra la Vella.

Andorra is the sixth-smallest state in Europe, with an area of 468 square kilometres (181 sq mi) and a population of approximately 79,034. The Andorran people are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalonian descent. Andorra is the world's 16th-smallest country by land and 11th-smallest by population. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 feet) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, but Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Tourism in Andorra brings an estimated 10.2 million visitors to the country annually. Andorra is not a member state of the European Union. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993.

More about Andorra

Basic information
  • Currency Euro
  • Native name Andorra
  • Calling code +376
  • Internet domain .ad
  • Mains voltage 220V/50Hz
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 85101
  • Area 468
  • Driving side right
History
  • Prehistory  Roc de les Bruixes prehistorical sanctuary in Canillo (detail)

    La Balma de la Margineda, found by archaeologists at Sant Julià de Lòria, was settled in 9,500 BCE as a passing place between the two sides of the Pyrenees. The seasonal camp was perfectly located for hunting and fishing by the groups of hunter-gatherers from Ariege and Segre.[1]

    ...Read more
    Prehistory  Roc de les Bruixes prehistorical sanctuary in Canillo (detail)

    La Balma de la Margineda, found by archaeologists at Sant Julià de Lòria, was settled in 9,500 BCE as a passing place between the two sides of the Pyrenees. The seasonal camp was perfectly located for hunting and fishing by the groups of hunter-gatherers from Ariege and Segre.[1]

    During the Neolithic Age, a group of people moved to the Valley of Madriu (the present-day Natural Park located in Escaldes-Engordany declared UNESCO World Heritage Site) as a permanent camp in 6640 BCE. The population of the valley grew cereals, raised domestic livestock, and developed a commercial trade with people from the Segre and Occitania.[2][3]

    Other archaeological deposits include the Tombs of Segudet (Ordino) and Feixa del Moro (Sant Julià de Lòria), both dated in 4900–4300 BCE as an example of the Urn culture in Andorra.[2][3] The model of small settlements began to evolve to a complex urbanism during the Bronze Age. Metallurgical items of iron, ancient coins, and relicaries can be found in the ancient sanctuaries scattered around the country.

    The sanctuary of Roc de les Bruixes (Stone of the Witches) is perhaps the most important archeological complex of this age in Andorra, located in the parish of Canillo, about the rituals of funerals, ancient scripture and engraved stone murals.[4][3]

    Iberian and Roman Andorra  Hannibal's route (red) during the Second Punic War. The Iberian tribes (green) fought against the Carthaginian army in the Pyrenees.

    The inhabitants of the valleys were traditionally associated with the Iberians and historically located in Andorra as the Iberian tribe Andosins or Andosini (Ἀνδοσίνους) during the 7th and 2nd centuries BC. Influenced by the Aquitanian, Basque and Iberian languages, the locals developed some current toponyms. Early writings and documents relating to this group of people goes back to the second century BC by the Greek writer Polybius in his Histories during the Punic Wars.[5][6][3][7]

    Some of the most significant remains of this era are the Castle of the Roc d'Enclar (part of the early Marca Hispanica),[8] l'Anxiu in Les Escaldes and Roc de L'Oral in Encamp.[3][7]

    The presence of Roman influence is recorded from the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE. The places with the most Roman presence are in Camp Vermell (Red Field) in Sant Julià de Lòria, and in some places in Encamp, as well as in the Roc d'Enclar. People continued trading, mainly with wine and cereals, with the Roman cities of Urgellet (the present-day La Seu d'Urgell) and all across Segre through the via romana Strata Ceretana (also known as Strata Confluetana).[3][9][8]

    Visigoths and Carolingians: the legend of Charlemagne  Charlemagne instructing his son, Louis the Pious

    After the fall of the Roman Empire, Andorra came under the influence of the Visigoths, the Kingdom of Toledo, and the Diocese of Urgell. The Visigoths remained in the valleys for 200 years, during which time Christianity spread. When the Muslim Empire of Al-Andalus replaced the ruling Visigoths in most of the Iberian Peninsula, Andorra was sheltered from these Arab invaders by the Franks.[10]

    Tradition holds that Charles the Great (Charlemagne) granted a charter to the Andorran people for a contingent of 5,000 soldiers under the command of Marc Almugaver, in return for fighting against the Moors near Porté-Puymorens (Cerdanya).[11]

     The six old parishes, each named for their patron saint, as depicted in the Acta de Consagració i Dotació de la Catedral de la Seu d'Urgell (839)

    Andorra remained part of the Frankish Marca Hispanica, the buffer zone between the Frankish Empire and the Muslim territories, Andorra being part of the territory ruled by the Count of Urgell and eventually the bishop of the Diocese of Urgell. Tradition also holds that it was guaranteed by the son of Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, writing the Carta de Poblament or a local municipal charter c. 805.[12]

    In 988, Count Borrell II of Urgell gave the Andorran valleys to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya.[13] Since then, the bishop of Urgell, based in Seu d'Urgell, has been co-prince of Andorra.[14]

    The first document that mentions Andorra as a territory is the Acta de Consagració i Dotació de la Catedral de la Seu d'Urgell (Deed of Consecration and Endowment of the Cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell). The document, dated 839, depicts the six old parishes of the Andorran valleys that made up the country's administrative division.[15]

    Medieval Age: The Paréages and the founding of the Co-Principality  Sant Joan de Caselles church, dating from the 11th century, part of the Andorran Romanesque heritage

    Before 1095, Andorra had no military protection, and the bishop of Urgell, who knew that the count of Urgell wanted to reclaim the Andorran valleys,[14] asked the Lord of Caboet for help and protection. In 1095, the lord of Caboet and the bishop of Urgell signed under oath a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra. Arnalda de Caboet, daughter of Arnau of Caboet, married the viscount of Castellbò. Their daughter, Ermessenda de Castellbò,[16] married the count of Foix, Roger-Bernard II. Roger-Bernard II and Ermessenda shared rule over Andorra with the bishop of Urgell.

    In the 13th century, a military dispute arose between the bishop of Urgell and the count of Foix as aftermath of the Cathar Crusade. The conflict was resolved in 1278 with the mediation of the king of Aragon, Peter III, between the bishop and the count, by the signing of the first paréage, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the count of Foix[14] (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the bishop of Urgell, in Catalonia. This gave the principality its territory and political form.[15][17]


    A second paréage was signed in 1288 after a dispute when the count of Foix ordered the construction of a castle in Roc d'Enclar.[15][17] The document was ratified by the noble notary Jaume Orig of Puigcerdà, and construction of military structures in the country was prohibited.[18][15]

    In 1364, the political organization of the country named the figure of the syndic (now spokesman and president of the parliament) as representative of the Andorrans to their co-princes, making possible the creation of local departments (comuns, quarts and veïnats). After being ratified by Bishop Francesc Tovia and Count John I, the Consell de la Terra or Consell General de les Valls (General Council of the Valleys) was founded in 1419, the second oldest parliament in Europe. The syndic Andreu d'Alàs and the General Council organized the creation of the Justice Courts (La Cort de Justicia) in 1433 with the co-princes and the collection of taxes like foc i lloc (literally "fire and site", a national tax active since then).[19][10]

     Apse fresco of Sant Miquel d'Engolasters church, painted by Mestre de Santa Coloma during the 12th century[20]

    Although there are remains of ecclesiastical works dating before the 9th century (Sant Vicenç d'Enclar or Església de Santa Coloma), Andorra developed exquisite Romanesque Art during the 9th through 14th centuries, particularly in the construction of churches, bridges, religious murals and statues of the Virgin and Child (Our Lady of Meritxell being the most important).[10] Nowadays, the Romanesque buildings that form part of Andorra's cultural heritage stand out in a remarkable way, with an emphasis on Església de Sant Esteve, Sant Joan de Caselles, Església de Sant Miquel d'Engolasters, Sant Martí de la Cortinada and the medieval bridges of Margineda and Escalls among many others.[21][22]

    The Catalan Pyrenees were embryonic of the Catalan language at the end of the 11th century. Andorra was influenced by this language, which was adopted locally decades before it expanded to the rest of the Crown of Aragon.[23]

    The local economy during the Middle Ages was based on livestock, agriculture, furs and weavers. Later, at the end of the 11th century, the first iron foundries began to appear in Northern Parishes like Ordino, much appreciated by the master artisans who developed the art of the forges, an important economic activity in the country from the 15th century.[10]

    16th to 18th centuries  Main hall of Tribunal de Corts (High Court of Justice) inside Casa de la Vall, the central Judiciary Court of Andorra

    In 1601 the Tribunal de Corts (High Court of Justice) was created as a result of Huguenot rebellions in France, Inquisition courts coming from Spain and witchcraft-related beliefs native to the area, in the context of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.[24][25][26]

    With the passage of time, the co-title to Andorra passed to the kings of Navarre. After Henry III of Navarre became king of France, he issued an edict in 1607 that established the head of the French state and the bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra, a political arrangement that still holds.

    During 1617, communal councils form the sometent (popular militia or army) to deal with the rise of bandolerisme (brigandage) and the Consell de la Terra was defined and structured in terms of its composition, organization and competences current today.[27]

    Andorra continued with the same economic system that it had during the 12th–14th centuries with a large production of metallurgy (fargues, a system similar to Farga Catalana) and with the introduction of tobacco circa 1692 and import trade. In 1371 and 1448, the co-princes ratified the fair of Andorra la Vella, the most important annual national festival commercially ever since.[28][29][30]

     Manor house of the Rossell family in Ordino, Casa Rossell, built in 1611. The family also owned the largest ironwork forges in Andorra as Farga Rossell and Farga del Serrat.[31]

    The country had a unique and experienced guild of weavers, Confraria de Paraires i Teixidors, in Escaldes-Engordany. Founded in 1604, it took advantage of the local thermal waters. By this time, the country was characterized by the social system of prohoms (wealthy society) and casalers (rest of the population with smaller economic acquisition), deriving from the tradition of pubilla and hereu.[32][33][34][35]

    Three centuries after its foundation, the Consell de la Terra located its headquarters and the Tribunal de Corts in Casa de la Vall in 1702. The manor house built in 1580 served as a noble fortress of the Busquets family. Inside the parliament was placed the Closet of the six keys (Armari de les sis claus), representative of each Andorran parish, where the Andorran constitution and other documents and laws were later kept.[36][37]

    In both the Reapers' War and the War of the Spanish Succession, the Andorran people (while professing to be a neutral country) supported the Catalans who saw their rights reduced in 1716. The reaction was the promotion of Catalan writings in Andorra, with cultural works such as the Book of Privileges (Llibre de Privilegis de 1674), Manual Digest (1748) by Antoni Fiter i Rossell or the Polità andorrà (1763) by Antoni Puig.[38][39]

    19th century: the New Reform and the Andorran Question  Guillem d'Areny-Plandolit led the New Reform of 1866.

    After the French Revolution, Napoleon I reestablished the Co-Principate in 1809 and removed the French medieval title. In 1812–1813, the First French Empire annexed Catalonia during the Peninsular War (Guerra Peninsular) and divided the region into four départements, with Andorra as a part of the district of Puigcerdà. In 1814, an imperial decree reestablished the independence and economy of Andorra.[40][41][42]

    During this period, Andorra's late medieval institutions and rural culture remained largely unchanged. In 1866, the syndic Guillem d'Areny-Plandolit led the reformist group in a Council General of 24 members elected by suffrage limited to heads of families. The Council General replaced the aristocratic oligarchy that previously ruled the state.[43]

    The New Reform (Nova Reforma) began after ratification by both Co-Princes and established the basis of the constitution[44] and symbols – such as the tricolour flag – of Andorra. A new service economy arose as a demand of the valley inhabitants and began to build infrastructure such as hotels, spa resorts, roads and telegraph lines.[45][46][47]

     Canillo scenery during the Revolution of 1881[48]

    The authorities of the Co-Princes banned casinos and betting houses throughout the country. The ban resulted in an economic conflict and the Revolution of 1881, which began when revolutionaries assaulted the house of the syndic on 8 December 1880, and established the Provisional Revolutionary Council led by Joan Pla i Calvo and Pere Baró i Mas. The Provisional Revolutionary Council allowed for the construction of casinos and spas by foreign companies.[49] From 7 to 9 June 1881, the loyalists of Canillo and Encamp reconquered the parishes of Ordino and La Massana by establishing contact with the revolutionary forces in Escaldes-Engordany.[50] After a day of combat the Treaty of the Bridge of Escalls was signed on 10 June.[51][52][53] The council was replaced and new elections were held. The economic situation worsened, as the populace was divided over the Qüestió d'Andorra – the "Andorran Question" in relation to the Eastern Question.[54] The struggles continued between pro-bishops, pro-French, and nationalists based on the troubles of Canillo in 1882 and 1885.[55][56][57]

    Andorra participated in the cultural movement of the Catalan Renaixença. Between 1882 and 1887, the first academic schools were formed where trilingualism coexisted with the official language, Catalan. Romantic authors from France and Spain reported the awakening of the national consciousness of the country. Jacint Verdaguer lived in Ordino during the 1880s where he wrote and shared works related to the Renaixença with writer and photographer, Joaquim de Riba.

    In 1848, Fromental Halévy had premiered the opera Le Val d'Andorre to great success in Europe, where the national consciousness of the valleys was exposed in the romantic work during the Peninsular War.[58][59][60]

    20th and 21st century: Modernisation of the country and the Constitutional Andorra  Boris Skossyreff, briefly self-proclaimed King of Andorra in 1934

    In 1933 France occupied Andorra following social unrest which occurred before elections due to the Revolution of 1933 and the FHASA strikes (Vagues de FHASA); the revolt led by Joves Andorrans (a labour union group related to the Spanish CNT and FAI) called for political reforms,[61] the universal suffrage vote of all Andorrans and acted in defense of the rights of local and foreign workers during the construction of FHASA's hydroelectric power station in Encamp.[62] On 5 April 1933 Joves Andorrans seized the Andorran Parliament.[63] These actions were preceded by the arrival of Colonel René-Jules Baulard with 50 gendarmes and the mobilization of 200 local militias or sometent led by the Síndic Francesc Cairat.[64]

    On 6 July 1934, adventurer and nobleman Boris Skossyreff, with his promise of freedoms and modernization of the country and wealth through the establishment of a tax haven and foreign investments, received the support of the members of the General Council to proclaim himself the sovereign of Andorra. On 8 July 1934 Boris issued a proclamation in Urgell, declaring himself Boris I, King of Andorra,[65] simultaneously declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell and approving the King's constitution on 10 July.[66] He was arrested by the Co-Prince and Bishop Justí Guitart i Vilardebó and their authorities on 20 July and ultimately expelled from Spain.[67] From 1936 until 1940, a French military detachment of Garde Mobile led by well-known Colonel René-Jules Baulard was garrisoned in Andorra to secure the principality against disruption from the Spanish Civil War[68] and Francoist Spain[69] and also face the rise of Republicanism in the aftermath of the 1933 Revolution.[70] During the Spanish Civil War, the inhabitants of Andorra welcomed refugees from both sides, and many of them settled permanently in the country thus contributing to the subsequent economic boom and the entry into the capitalist era of Andorra.[71][72] Francoist troops reached the Andorran border in the later stages of the war.[73]

     Enthronement as Co-Prince in 1942 of Bishop Ramón Iglesias (centre). The local comite was led by Francesc Cairat (left), the First General Syndic with the longest regencie, from 1936 to 1960.[74]

    During World War II, Andorra remained neutral and was an important smuggling route between Vichy France and Francoist Spain.[75] Many Andorrans criticized the passivity of the General Council for impeding both the entry and expulsion of foreigners and refugees, committing economic crimes,[76] reducing the rights of citizens[77] and sympathy with Francoism.[78][79] General Council members justified the council's political and diplomatic actions as necessary for Andorra's survival and the protection of its sovereignty. Andorra was relatively unscathed by the two world wars and the Spanish Civil War.[79][80] Certain groups formed to help victims of oppression in Nazi-occupied countries, while participating in smuggling to help Andorra survive. Among the most prominent was the Hostal Palanques Evasion Network Command, which, in contact with the British MI6, helped almost 400 fugitives,[81] among whom were Allied military personnel.[82][83] The Command remained active between 1941 and 1944, although there were struggles with pro-Axis informers and Gestapo agents in Andorra.[84]

     Co-Prince Charles de Gaulle in the streets of Sant Julià de Lòria in Andorra, October 1967

    In the capital city there was a smuggling black market of propaganda, culture and cinematic art not favorable to totalitarian regimes, promulgated in such places as the Hotel Mirador or the Casino Hotel,[85] as a meeting place for Free French forces and a route for escorting crashed Allied pilots out of Europe.[86] The network was maintained after the war, when film societies were formed, where movies, music and books censored in Franco's Spain were imported, becoming an anti-censorship attraction for the Catalan or foreign public even within Andorra.[72] Andorran Group (Agrupament Andorrà), an anti-fascist organization linked to the Occitanie's French Resistance, accused the French representative (veguer) of collaboration with Nazism.[87]

    The Andorran opening to the capitalist economy resulted in two axes: mass tourism and the country's tax exemption. The first steps toward the capitalist boom date from the 1930s, with the construction of FHASA[88] and the creation of professional banking[89] with Banc Agrícol (1930) and Crèdit Andorrà (1949), later with Banca Mora (1952), Banca Cassany (1958) and SOBANCA (1960). Shortly after activities such as skiing and shopping become a tourist attraction, with the inauguration of ski resorts and cultural entities in the late 1930s.[88][90] All in all, a renovated hotel industry has developed. In April 1968 a social health insurance system was created (CASS).[91]

     Streets of the city centre of Andorra la Vella in 1986. From the same year until 1989 Andorra normalized the economic treaties with the EEC.[92][93] Foreign Minister of Andorra Gilbert Saboya meeting Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2014

    The Andorran government necessarily involved planning, projection and forecasts for the future: with the official visit of the French co-prince Charles de Gaulle in 1967 and 1969, it was given approval for the economic boom and national demands within the framework of human rights and international openness.[94][95]

    Andorra lived an era commonly known as "Andorran dream"[96] (in relation to the American dream) along with the Trente Glorieuses: the mass culture rooted the country experiencing radical changes in the economy and culture. Proof of this was Ràdio Andorra, the top musical radio station in Europe in this period,[97] with guests and speakers of great importance promoting musical hits of chanson française, swing, rhythm & blues, jazz, rock and roll and American country music.[98] During this period Andorra achieved a GDP per capita and a life expectancy higher than the most standard countries of the current economy.[88][99]

    Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France, Spain and Portugal. But in recent times its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transport and communications have removed the country from its isolation. Since 1976 the country has seen the need to reform Andorran institutions due to anachronisms in sovereignty, human rights and the balance of powers as well as the need to adapt legislation to modern demands. In 1982 a first separation of powers took place when instituting the Govern d'Andorra, under the name of Executive Board (Consell Executiu), chaired by the first prime minister Òscar Ribas Reig with the co-princes' approval.[100] In 1989 the Principality signed an agreement with the European Economic Community to regularize trade relations.[101]

    Its political system was modernized in 1993 after the Andorran constitutional referendum, when the constitution was drafted by the co-princes and the General Council and approved on 14 March[102] by 74.2% of voters, with a 76% turnout.[103] The first elections under the new constitution were held later in the year.[102] The same year, Andorra became a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe.[104]

    Andorra formalized diplomatic relations with the United States in 1996, participating in the 51st UN General Assembly. First General Syndic Marc Forné took part on a speech in Catalan in the General Assembly to defend the reform of the organization, and after three days he took part in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe to defend Andorra's linguistic rights and economy.[105] In 2006 a monetary agreement with the European Union was formalized that allows Andorra to use the Euro in an official way, as well as minting its own Euro coins.[106][107]

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Stay safe
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    Stay safe

    There is not much threat from other people in Andorra, but keep safe on mountains. Don't go too high without knowing what you are doing. See Altitude sickness for more.

    Drivers are warned to avoid crossing back into France if the Spanish side of the Pyrenees has enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine all day and the road temperatures drop considerably towards the evening - there is danger of black ice from ice melt. The weather in the French Pyrenees is frequently vastly different than that of Andorra and the Spanish Pyrenees. Stay overnight if necessary, as cold morning temperatures are more apparent and less treacherous than sudden evening icing. Driving can become dangerous especially in winter if you don't obey the speed limits or traffic signs due to its narrow roads, sharp turns and mountainous terrains. From November 1 to May 15, drivers are legally required to have winter tires or snow chains installed. Otherwise you will be fined €180 by the police.

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