Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Principality of Andorra

The Principality of Andorra is a tiny landlocked country in the Pyrenees.  It is nestled between Spain and France.  It is Europe's 6th smallest country; about 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC.  Andorra's population is around 84,000.

The capital city is Andorra la Vella and, at an elevation of 1,023 meters (3,356 feet), it is the highest capital city in Europe.

The country is a parliamentary co-principality ruled by the Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia, Spain) and the President of France.  It's kind of odd to me that Andorrans don't vote in French elections but the French President gets to be one of its two princes.

The Principality of Andorra was formed in 1278.  In 1993, the political system was modified and it joined the United Nations.  Andorra is not part of the EU but it is a member of the customs union.  While it is not part of the Schengen zone it might as well be since, both Spain and France are members and, you can't get to Andorra without first traveling through either Spain or France.  Catalan is the official language but most everyone also speaks either Castilian Spanish or French.

Andorra did not have its own currency and used both Spanish Pesetas and French Francs until the Euro was introduced.  So while the country is not part of the Eurozone it still uses the Euro as its official currency.

Here's a Rick Steves video about Andorra that I found on YouTube.
©Rick Steves

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