Once upon a time, Spain and France kind of had a baby,
and that baby grew up to be one of Europe’s most adorable little taxhavens.
This is Andorra.
It’s time to learn geography, NOW!
I think you’re going to really like this country; it’s pretty confusing.
But first, let’s dissect the flag!
The Andorran flag is a triband color of three different colors: red, yellow, and blue. These colors are actually inspired by the French and Spanish flags, the red and yellow coming from the Spanish side, and the French side being red and blue. Inside of the flag is the Andorran coat of arms; this is where things get a little difficult, so bear with me. The coat of arms is a shield with a motto underneath it, saying: ‘Virtvs Vnita Fortior’, which means ‘United virtue stands stronger.’.And in the shield, it’s separated by four different quadrants, the first one being from La Seu d’Urgell region, and the second one being from the former colony of Foix. The third one representing the crown of Aragon, which is representing of the Catalonian region, and the fourth one being the former Viscount of Béarn. As you’ll see, Spain and France have actually played a very crucial role in Andorra’s history, but first, let’s actually talk about the country.
In terms of its political geography, Andorra is classified as a micronation, because it is an incredibly small nation. In fact, it’s the third-largest micronation in Europe, fourth if you include Cyprus and fifth if you include Iceland, bordered by Spain in the south and France in the north. Andorra is only about 181 square miles, or 468 square kilometers, which is about 2.5 times the size of Washington D.C.The capital is Andorra la Vella, and it has seven provinces. Now, Andorra doesn’t have any airports or seaports, as it is a landlocked country, and it doesn’t have any train stations either. However, the nearest train station can be found at the Latour de Carol, in a town called L’ Hospitalet-pres-Andorra, which literally translates to ‘the hospital close to Andorra.’ It’s literally only about two kilometers next to the Andorran border. The nearest airports to Andorra will be found in Toulouse or Barcelona, which are respectively each about three hours of a drive away from Andorra’s borders. Getting into Andorra is going to be a little difficult because there is only about two main roads to get in. On the north side, there is the N-22 road from the French side, and on the south, there is the N-145 highway. Of course, there are other ways you can get in, like the CG-6 and CG-4 highways on the other side of Spain. And technically, you can sneak into Andorra through a farm close to the N-145 highway in Spain as well. Entering through France is going to be a little bit more difficult, because not only are there more hairpin turns through the mountainside, but also, all people entering through France will have to pay a seven euro fee to go through the Envalira tunnel. The tunnel is about two kilometers and enters into the main parts of the country. Now, why is it so hard to get into Andorra?
Well, we are going to discuss that in Physical Geography! Now, Andorra is almost completely mountainous, as it is a landlocked country in the Pyrenees mountain range in the Iberian peninsula. Of course, Andorra does has a few lakes and rivers, the main one being the Riu Valira, which travels through most of the main towns, and the capital city of Andorra la Vella. Now, only about two percent of Andorra’s land is arable for farming and livestock production. However, with whatever land that they do have, they produce staples like grains and vegetables. However, the most common crops that they grow are hay and tobacco.[The] The majority of their food is actually imported, mostly because their economy is heavily based on tourism and banking. About seven percent [of the economy] is classified as “unclassified” transactions. They are huge on raising sheep, though. And there are a lot of ski resorts as well, especially when you enter on the French side. The people of this region are actually really interesting. So interesting, that we’re going to talk about it in…demographics!DEMOGRAPHICS:-
Now, when it comes to demographics, Andorra is very strange, because…the majority of people in Andorra are actually not even Andorran nationals. Only about a third of the people living in Andorra are actually Andorrans, the others being Spanish, French, and Portuguese. That means about two thirds of the people can’t even vote or hold office as head of state. Or own thirty three or more percent of any stock in Andorra. Nonetheless, Catalan is the main language of Andorra, the official language. However, people do have a choice to send their kids to either Spanish, Catalan or French schools, and surprisingly enough, most people actually choose the French schools, over half of them. Catalan is actually a Romance language related to Spanish and French. However, most people in Andorra are actually trilingual or quadrilingual, using Portuguese or English as their fourth language. These people are actually really smart, believe it or not. The strangest thing about Andorra though, would have to be their governmental system. See, Andorra is what you would call a co-principality – it’s the only one in the world which means they have two princes. However, these princes aren’t really acquired by any kind of royal lineage they’re not even necessarily related to each other. How is this possible? Well, the President of France and the Bishop of La Seu d’Urgell in Spain are the princes. That means whoever is the current President of France, and whoever is the Bishop of La Seu d’Urgell, are considered monarchs. However, Andorra does have its own head of government position that it holds, that the Andorran people vote for -a third of the Andorran people, at least -who oversees most of the executive duties of the country, along with the general counsel of parliament. However, the head of government can also request certain sanctions from the two other monarchs. It’s confusing. Now, if you thought that was kind of confusing, let’s talk about the friend zone.
Now, because Andorra is classified as a tax haven, pretty much everybody loves Andorra. However, Andorra is careful about this. She doesn’t just throw herself out to anybody who says they like her. She is careful with who she goes to and keeping her embassies to a minimum, and investing in the people that she knows she can co-operate with the best. To this day, she only has about six embassies in six other countries: Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and the United States, and Austria. However, technically the embassy in the United States triples as an embassy for Mexico and Canada as well. Spain and France are the only countries that have embassies inside of Andorra. Now, Andorra doesn’t have any international disputes or controversies. However, it did kind of take them a little while to have diplomatic relations with Kosovo. They were a little bit hesitant afterward, but now they have relations and it’s all good. To be frank, Spain and France are not only probably Andorra’s best friends, but they’re pretty much the protective parents who have stood by the nation for nearly all of its history. Spain and France have a huge holding on Andorra’s relationships. In conclusion, Andorra is kind of like the hidden gem, tucked away in the Pyrenees mountains, that is really hard to get to. But if you’re a travel freak, see if you can get to this place.