Andorra

Andorra

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Andorra officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, located in the eastern Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 mountains and bordered by Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe
European microstates
The European microstates or ministates are a set of very small states in Europe. While Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are usually included, Luxembourg and Cyprus share certain features as well...

 having an area of 468 km² (181 sq mi) and an estimated population of 84,082 in 2009. Its capital, Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella is the capital of the Co-principality of Andorra, and is located high in the east Pyrenees between France and Spain. It is also the name of the parish that surrounds the capital....

, is the highest capital city in Europe, being at an elevation of 1023 metres. The official language is Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

The Principality was formed in 1278. The role of monarch is exercised jointly by the two co-princes, the President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

.

Andorra is a prosperous country mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and also because of its status as a tax haven
Tax haven
A tax haven is a state or a country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all while offering due process, good governance and a low corruption rate....

. It is not a member of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, but the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 is the de facto currency. The people of Andorra have the 4th highest human life expectancy in the world — 82 years at birth.

History



Tradition holds that Charles the Great (Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

) granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for fighting against the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

. Overlordship
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 of the territory was by the Count of Urgell and eventually by the bishop of the Diocese of Urgell
Diocese of Urgell
The Diocese of Urgell is a Roman Catholic diocese in Catalonia, Spain, with origins in the fifth century AD or possibly earlier. It is based in the region of the historical Catalan county of Urgell, though it has different borders...

. In 988, Borrell II, Count of Urgell, gave the Andorran valleys to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya
Cerdanya
Cerdanya is a natural comarca and historical region of the eastern Pyrenees divided between France and Spain. Historically it has been one of the counties of Catalonia....

. Since then the Bishop of Urgell, based in Seu d'Urgell
La Seu d'Urgell
La Seu d'Urgell is a town located in the Catalan Pyrenees in Spain. La Seu d'Urgell is also the capital of the comarca Alt Urgell, head of the judicial district of la Seu d'Urgell and the seat of Bishop of Urgell, one of the Andorra co-princes...

, has owned Andorra.

Before 1095, Andorra did not have any type of military protection and the Bishop of Urgell, who knew that the Count of Urgell wanted to reclaim the Andorran valleys, asked for help and protection from the Lord of Caboet. In 1095, the Lord of Caboet and the Bishop of Urgell signed under oath a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra. Arnalda, daughter of Arnau of Caboet, married the Viscount of Castellbò and both became Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya. Years later their daughter, Ermessenda, married Roger Bernat II, the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Count of Foix. They became Roger Bernat II and Ermessenda I, Counts of Foix, Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya, and also co-sovereigns of Andorra (shared with the Bishop of Urgell).

In the 11th century, a dispute arose between the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix. The conflict was resolved in 1278 with the mediation of Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

 by the signing of the first paréage
Paréage of Andorra 1278
The first Paréage of Andorra was a feudal charter signed in Lleida on 8 September 1278. It codified a lay and ecclesiastical agreement between the Count of Foix, Roger-Bernard III, and the Bishop of Urgell, Pere d'Urtx, establishing their joint-sovereignty over the territory of Andorra...

 which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the Bishop of Urgell, in Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

. This gave the principality
Principality
A principality is a monarchical feudatory or sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or princess, or by a monarch with another title within the generic use of the term prince....

 its territory and political form.

Over the years, the French co-title to Andorra passed to the kings of Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre
The Kingdom of Navarre , originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a European kingdom which occupied lands on either side of the Pyrenees alongside the Atlantic Ocean....

. After Henry of Navarre became King Henry IV of France
Henry IV of France
Henry IV , Henri-Quatre, was King of France from 1589 to 1610 and King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610. He was the first monarch of the Bourbon branch of the Capetian dynasty in 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. In 1812–13, the First French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

 annexed Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 and divided it in four départements, with Andorra being made part of the district of Puigcerdà
Puigcerdà
Puigcerdà is the capital of the Catalan comarca of Cerdanya, in the province of Girona, Catalonia, northern Spain, near the river Segre and the border with France .- History :...

 (département of Sègre
Segre
Segre may be* Beniamino Segre , Italian geometer* Corrado Segre , Italian geometer distantly related to Beniamino* Emilio Segrè , Italian American physicist* Segre River, a river in Catalonia...

).

20th century


Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, but did not actually take part in the fighting. It remained in an official state of belligerency until 1957 as it was not included in the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

.

In 1933, France occupied Andorra as a result of social unrest before elections. On July 12, 1934, adventurer Boris Skossyreff
Boris Skossyreff
Boris Skossyreff was an adventurer who attempted to seize power in the European state of Andorra during the early 1930s...

 issued a proclamation in Urgell, declaring himself "Boris I, King of Andorra", simultaneously declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell. He was arrested by Spanish authorities on July 20 and ultimately expelled from Spain. From 1936 to 1940, a French detachment was garrisoned in Andorra to prevent influences of the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 and Franco's Spain. Francoist troops reached the Andorran border in the later stages of the war. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Andorra remained neutral and was an important smuggling route between Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 and Spain.

Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transport and communications have removed the country from its isolation. Its political system was modernised in 1993, when it became a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

.

Politics


Andorra is a parliamentary co-principality with the President of France
President of the French Republic
The President of the French Republic colloquially referred to in English as the President of France, is France's elected Head of State....

 and the Bishop of Urgell (Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, Spain), as co-princes. This peculiarity makes the President of France, in his capacity as Prince of Andorra, an elected reigning monarch, even though he is not elected by a popular vote of the Andorran people. The politics of Andorra take place in a framework of a parliamentary
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

, whereby the Prime Minister of Andorra is the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, and of a pluriform multi-party system.

The current Prime Minister is Antoni Martí
Antoni Martí
Antoni Martí Petit is an Andorran architect and politician who is the country's head of government since 11 May 2011, following a parliamentary election in 2011...

 of the Democrats for Andorra
Democrats for Andorra
Democrats for Andorra is the governing political party in Andorra.They stood as the main opposition party in the 2011 Andorran General Election, being the direct successor of the Reformist Coalition who ran in the 2009 election, and won 20 of the General Council's 28 seats, the largest majority...

 (DA). Executive power
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

 is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both government and parliament.

The Parliament of Andorra is known as the General Council. The General Council consists of between 28 and 42 Councilors, as the members of the legislative branch are called. The Councilors serve for four-year terms and elections are held between the thirtieth and fortieth days following the dissolution of the previous Council. The Councilors can be elected on two equal constituencies.

Half are elected in equal number from each of the seven administrative parishes and the other half of the Councilors are elected from a single national constituency. 15 days after the election, the Councilors hold their inauguration. During this session, the Syndic General, who is the head of the General Council, and the Subsyndic General, his assistant, are elected. Eight days later, the Council convenes once more. During this session the Head of Government, the Prime Minister of Andorra, is chosen from among the Councilors.
Candidates for the prime-ministerial nomination can be proposed by a minimum of one-fifth of the Councilors. The Council then elects the candidate with the absolute majority of votes to be Head of Government. The Syndic General then notifies the Co-princes who in turn appoint the elected candidate as the Prime Minister of Andorra. The General Council is also responsible for proposing and passing laws. Bills may be presented to the Council as Private Members' Bills by three of the Local Parish Councils jointly or by at least one tenth of the citizens of Andorra.

The Council also approves the annual budget of the principality. The government must submit the proposed budget for parliamentary approval at least two months before the previous budget expires. If the budget is not approved by the first day of the next year, the previous budget is extended until a new one is approved. Once any bill is approved, the Syndic General is responsible for presenting it to the Co-princes so that they may sign and enact it.

If the Head of Government is not satisfied with the Council, he may request that the Co-princes dissolve the Council and order new elections. In turn, the Councilors have the power to remove the Head of Government from office. After a motion of censure is approved by at least one-fifth of the Councilors, the Council will vote and if it receives the absolute majority of votes, the Prime Minister is removed.

Law and criminal justice


The judiciary is composed of the Magistrates Court, the Criminal Law Court, the High Court of Andorra, and the Constitutional Court. The High Court of Justice is composed of five judges: one appointed by the Head of Government, one each by the Coprinces, one by the Syndic General, and one by the Judges and Magistrates. It is presided over by the member appointed by the Syndic General and the judges hold office for six-year terms.

The Magistrates and Judges are appointed by the High Court, and so is the President of the Criminal Law Court. The High Court also appoints members of the Office of the Attorney General. The Constitutional Court is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and reviewing all appeals of unconstitutionality against laws and treaties. It is composed of four judges, one appointed by each of the Coprinces and two by the General Council. They serve eight-year terms. The Court is presided over by one of the Judges on a two-year rotation so that each judge at one point will be the leader of the Court.

Foreign relations and defence



Andorra maintains a small Army, and all able-bodied men who own firearms must serve. The Army is unique in that all men are treated as officers. The Army's main responsibility is to present the national flag at ceremonies. The country also has an internal police force. Responsibility for defending Andorra rests primarily with France and Spain. Andorra is a full member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the OSCE, and has a special agreement with the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

Geography




Parishes



Andorra consists of seven parishes:
  • Andorra la Vella
    Andorra la Vella
    Andorra la Vella is the capital of the Co-principality of Andorra, and is located high in the east Pyrenees between France and Spain. It is also the name of the parish that surrounds the capital....

  • Canillo
    Canillo
    Canillo is one of the parishes of Andorra. Canillo is also the name of the main town of the parish. Canillo has a gondola link to the main ski resort of Grandvalira.-Geography:...

  • Encamp
    Encamp
    Encamp is one of the parishes of Andorra, located on the Valira d'Orient river, and connected by a cable car to Lake Engolasters. It is also the name of the main town in the parish. Other settlements include Vila, El Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, el Tremat, la Mosquera, and Les Bons. As of 2004, it...

  • Escaldes-Engordany
    Escaldes-Engordany
    Escaldes-Engordany is one of the parishes of Andorra. The parish is composed of the areas of les Escaldes, Engordany, Els Vilars d'Engordany, Engolasters, and El Fener. As of 2005 it has a population of 16,918. Notable events include the town's annual jazz festival....

  • La Massana
    La Massana
    La Massana is one of the seven parishes of the Principality of Andorra. It is located in the northwest of the country. . La Massana is also the name of the main town of the parish. The name Massana derives from the Latin name mattianam for a variety of apple.The parish is extremely mountainous and...

  • Ordino
  • Sant Julià de Lòria
    Sant Julià de Lòria
    Sant Julià de Lòria is one of the parishes of Andorra, in the far south of that country. It is also the name of the main town of the parish, which at 908 m is the lowest settlement in Andorra...


Physical geography



Due to its location in the eastern Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 mountain range, Andorra consists predominantly of rugged mountains, the highest being the Coma Pedrosa
Coma Pedrosa
Coma Pedrosa is the highest mountain in the principality of Andorra. It is popular with mountain climbers, its ascent being technically straightforward, although strenuous. Several mountain lakes and tarns are found on the slopes, notably Estanys de Baiau, which lies on the western slopes, across...

 at 2942 metres (9,652 ft), and the average elevation of Andorra is 1996 metres (6,549 ft). These are dissected by three narrow valleys in a Y shape that combine into one as the main stream, the Gran Valira river, leaves the country for Spain (at Andorra's lowest point of 840 m (2,756 ft)). Andorra's land area is 468 km² (181 sq mi).

Phytogeographically
Phytogeography
Phytogeography , also called geobotany, is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species...

, Andorra belongs to the Atlantic European province of the Circumboreal Region
Circumboreal Region
The Circumboreal Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in Eurasia and North America, as delineated by such geobotanists as Josias Braun-Blanquet and Armen Takhtajan....

 within the Boreal Kingdom
Boreal Kingdom
The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good , which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia...

. According to the WWF
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

, the territory of Andorra belongs to the ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 of Pyrenees conifer and mixed forests.

Climate


Andorra has an alpine climate
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 and continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

. Its higher elevation means there is, on average, more snow in winter, lower humidity, and it is slightly cooler in summer. There are, on average, 300 days per year of sunshine.

Economy


Tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

. An estimated 10.2 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts. Andorra's relative advantage has recently eroded as the economies of adjoining France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

s.

The banking sector, with its tax haven
Tax haven
A tax haven is a state or a country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all while offering due process, good governance and a low corruption rate....

 status, also contributes substantially to the economy. Agricultural production is limited—only 2% of the land is arable—and most food has to be imported. Some tobacco is grown locally. The principal livestock activity is domestic sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra's natural resources include hydroelectric power, mineral water, timber, iron ore, and lead.

Andorra is not a member of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, but enjoys a special relationship with it, such as being treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods (no tariffs) and as a non-EU member for agricultural products. Andorra lacked a currency
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 of its own and used both the French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

 and the Spanish peseta
Spanish peseta
The peseta was the currency of Spain between 1869 and 2002. Along with the French franc, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra .- Etymology :...

 in banking transactions until 31 December 1999, when both currencies were replaced by the EU's single currency, the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

. Coins and notes of both the franc and the peseta remained legal tender in Andorra until 31 December 2002. Andorra is negotiating to issue its own euro coins.

Andorra has one of the world's lowest unemployment rates, with the statistics on June 2009 showing almost 0% unemployment within the country.

Demography


Population


The population of Andorra is estimated to be 83,890 (July 2009). The population has grown from 5,000 in 1900.

Andorran nationals are a plurality in the country (31,363); other nationalities include Spaniards (27,300), Portuguese (13,794), French (5,213), Britons (1,085) and Italians.

Languages



The historic and official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 is Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

, a Romance language. The Andorran government is keen to encourage the use of Catalan. It funds a commission for Catalan toponymy
Toponymy
Toponymy is the scientific study of place names , their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word "toponymy" is derived from the Greek words tópos and ónoma . Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds...

 in Andorra (Catalan: la Comissió de Toponímia d'Andorra), and provides free Catalan classes to assist immigrants. Andorran television and radio stations use Catalan.

Because of immigration, historical links, and close geographic proximity, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 are also commonly spoken. Most Andorran residents can speak one or more of these, in addition to Catalan. English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is less commonly spoken among the general population, though it is understood to varying degrees in the major tourist resorts. Andorra is one of only three European countries (together with France and Monaco) that have never signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities was signed on February 1995 by 22 member States of the Council of Europe ....

.

Religion


The population of Andorra is predominantly (90%) Roman Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. Their patron saint is Our Lady of Meritxell
Our Lady of Meritxell
Our Lady of Meritxell is an Andorran Roman Catholic statue depicting an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Our Lady of Meritxell is the patron saint of Andorra. The original statue dates from the late 12th century. However, the chapel in which it was housed burned down on September 8 and 9, 1972, and...

. Though it is not an official state religion, the constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Catholic Church, offering some special privileges to that group. The Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 community is primarily made up of North African immigrants. Other Christian denominations include the Anglican Church, the Reunification Church, the New Apostolic Church
New Apostolic Church
The New Apostolic Church is a chiliastic church, converted to Protestantism as a free church from the Catholic Apostolic Church. The church has existed since 1879 in Germany and since 1897 in the Netherlands...

, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is a small community of Hindus
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith in Andorra
The Bahá'í Faith in Andorra begins with the first mention of Andorra in Bahá'í literature when `Abdu'l-Bahá listed it as a place to take the religion to in 1916. The first Bahá'í to pioneer to Andorra was William Danjon Dieudonne in 1953. By 1979 a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in...

. Andorra also hosts a population of roughly 100 Jews (see: Andorran Jews).

Schools


Children between the ages of 6 and 16 are required by law to have full-time education. Education up to secondary level is provided free of charge by the government.

There are three systems of schools – Andorran, French and Spanish – which use Catalan, French and Spanish, respectively, as the main language of instruction. Parents may choose which system their children attend. All schools are built and maintained by Andorran authorities, but teachers in the French and Spanish schools are paid for the most part by France and Spain. About 50% of Andorran children attend the French primary schools, and the rest attend Spanish or Andorran schools.

University of Andorra


The University of Andorra (UdA) is the state public university and is the only university in Andorra. It was established in 1997. The University provides first-level degrees in nursing, computer science, business administration, and educational sciences, in addition to higher professional education courses. The only two graduate schools in Andorra are the Nursing School and the School of Computer Science, the latter having a PhD program.

Virtual Studies Centre


The geographical complexity of the country as well as the small number of students prevents the University of Andorra from developing a full academic program, and it serves principally as a centre for virtual studies, connected to Spanish and French universities. The Virtual Studies Centre (Centre d’Estudis Virtuals) at the University runs in the region of twenty degrees at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in fields including tourism, law, Catalan philology, humanities, psychology, political sciences, audiovisual communication, telecommunications engineering, and East Asia studies. The Centre also runs various postgraduate programs and continuing-education courses for professionals.

Healthcare


Healthcare in Andorra is provided to all employed persons and their families by the government-run social security system, CASS (Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat Social), which is funded by employer and employee contributions in respect of salaries. The cost of healthcare is covered by CASS at rates of 75% for out-patient expenses such as medicines and hospital visits, 90% for hospitalisation, and 100% for work-related accidents. The remainder of the costs may be covered by private health insurance. Other residents and tourists require full private health insurance.

The main hospital, Meritxell, is in Escaldes-Engordany
Escaldes-Engordany
Escaldes-Engordany is one of the parishes of Andorra. The parish is composed of the areas of les Escaldes, Engordany, Els Vilars d'Engordany, Engolasters, and El Fener. As of 2005 it has a population of 16,918. Notable events include the town's annual jazz festival....

. There are also 12 primary health care centres in various locations around the Principality.

Transport



Until the 20th century, Andorra had very limited transport links to the outside world, and development of the country was affected by its physical isolation. Even now, the nearest major airports at Toulouse and Barcelona are both three hours' drive from Andorra.

Andorra has a road network of 279 km (173 mi), of which 76 km (47 mi) is unpaved. The two main roads out of Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella is the capital of the Co-principality of Andorra, and is located high in the east Pyrenees between France and Spain. It is also the name of the parish that surrounds the capital....

 are the CG-1 to the Spanish border, and the CG-2 to the French border via the Envalira Tunnel near Pas de la Casa
Pas de la Casa
El Pas de la Casa is a ski resort , town, and mountain pass in the Encamp parish of Andorra, lying on the border with France. Its name literally translates as "the pass of the house" and refers to the fact that until the early twentieth century there was only a single shepherd's hut overlooking...

. Bus services cover all metropolitan areas and many rural communities, with services on most major routes running half-hourly or more frequently during peak travel times. There are frequent long-distance bus services from Andorra to Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 and Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

. Bus services are mostly run by private companies, but some local ones are operated by the government.

There are no railways, ports, or airports for fixed-wing aircraft in Andorra. There are, however, heliports in La Massana
La Massana
La Massana is one of the seven parishes of the Principality of Andorra. It is located in the northwest of the country. . La Massana is also the name of the main town of the parish. The name Massana derives from the Latin name mattianam for a variety of apple.The parish is extremely mountainous and...

, Arinsal
Arinsal
Arinsal is a village in Andorra, set at an altitude of between 1550 and 2560 metres, close to the border with Spain at Tor, Pallars. In the summer Arinsal is home to walkers and bikers, as well as those who just want to relax in the mountain scenery...

 and Escaldes-Engordany
Escaldes-Engordany
Escaldes-Engordany is one of the parishes of Andorra. The parish is composed of the areas of les Escaldes, Engordany, Els Vilars d'Engordany, Engolasters, and El Fener. As of 2005 it has a population of 16,918. Notable events include the town's annual jazz festival....

 with commercial helicopter services. Nearby airports are located in Barcelona, Toulouse, Perpignan, Reus, and Girona. The closest public airport is Perpignan - Rivesaltes Airport, which is 160 km (99 mi) away and has short-haul services to several destinations in the United Kingdom and France. La Seu d'Urgell Airport, a small airfield 12 km (7 mi) south of Andorra currently used only by private aeroplanes, is being studied by the Catalan government as a possible future airport for public aviation services.

The nearest railway station is L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre
L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre
L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre is a commune in the Ariège department in southwestern France.The commune has a history of vulnerability to avalanches in winter. Avalanches hit the commune in 1895 killing 12, and again in 1906 and 1929. Avalanches have also closed the RN-20 road.-Population:-References:*...

 10 km (6 mi) east of Andorra which is on the -gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

 line from Latour-de-Carol
Latour-de-Carol
Latour-de-Carol is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.-Transport:The village's main claim to fame is as the site of the international railway station, Gare de Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg...

, (25 km (16 mi)) southeast of Andorra, to Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

 and on to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 by the French high-speed trains
TGV
The TGV is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by SNCF Voyages, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator....

. This line is operated by the SNCF
SNCF
The SNCF , is France's national state-owned railway company. SNCF operates the country's national rail services, including the TGV, France's high-speed rail network...

. Latour-de-Carol has a scenic metre gauge
Metre gauge
Metre gauge refers to narrow gauge railways and tramways with a track gauge of . In some African, American and Asian countries it is the main gauge. In Europe it has been used for local railways in France, Germany, and Belgium, most of which were closed down in mid 20th century. Only in Switzerland...

 trainline
Yellow train
The Ligne de Cerdagne, often called the Yellow Train , is a metre gauge railway that runs from Villefranche-de-Conflent through to Mont-Louis in France. It was started in 1903 and the section to Mont-Louis was completed in 1910, followed by an extension to Latour-de-Carol in 1927.It is long and...

 to Villefranche-de-Conflent
Villefranche-de-Conflent
Villefranche-de-Conflent is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in south of France.-The Capital of Conflent:The original town dates from 1098 and is fortified because of its strategic position in lands that changed hands between French and Spanish occupation.* 1374, Villefranche...

, as well as the SNCF's -gauge line connecting to Perpignan
Perpignan
-Sport:Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the Top 14 , while their rugby league side plays in the engage Super League under the name Catalans Dragons.-Culture:Since 2004, every year in the...

, and the RENFE's
RENFE
Renfe Operadora is the state-owned company which operates freight and passenger trains on the 1668-mm "Iberian gauge" and 1435-mm "European gauge" networks of the Spanish national railway infrastructure company ADIF .- History :The name RENFE is derived from that of the former Spanish National...

  -gauge
Iberian gauge
Iberian gauge is the name given to the track gauge most extensively used by the railways of Spain and Portugal: namely ....

 line to Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

.

Media and telecommunications


In Andorra, mobile and fixed telephone and internet services are operated exclusively by the Andorran national telecommunications company, SOM, also known as Servei de Telecomunicacions d'Andorra (STA). The same company also manages the technical infrastructure for national broadcasting of digital television and radio.

By the end of 2010, it is planned that every home in the country will have fibre-optic to the home for internet access at a minimum speed of 100 Mbit/s.

There is only one Andorran television station, Ràdio i Televisió d'Andorra
Ràdio i Televisió d'Andorra
Ràdio i Televisió d'Andorra, S.A. , is the public service television and radio broadcaster in the Principality of Andorra. It operates a television channel, ATV, and a radio station, RNA; both of which broadcast in Catalan.-History:...

(RTVA). Radio Nacional d’Andorra operates two radio stations, Radio Andorra
Radio Andorra
Radio Andorra is the name of one of the oldest French private radios, which from 1939 until 1981 had a broadcast license in Andorra.-History:...

and Andorra Música. There are three national newspapers, Diari d'Andorra
Diari d'Andorra
Diari d'Andorra is a newspaper of the Principality of Andorra. It is headquartered in Andorra la Vella and is published by Premsa Andorrana SA since 1991. Its daily distribution is 19,000 copies with 30,000 in the week-end edition 7dies distributed in homes and businesses.-External links:*...

, El Periòdic d'Andorra
El Periòdic d'Andorra
El Periòdic d'Andorra is a newspaper of the Principality of Andorra. It has its headquarters in Escaldes-Engordany.-External links:*...

, and Bondia
Bondia (newspaper)
Bondia is a newspaper published in Catalan. It is published in two editions:*Principality of Andorra*Lleida, Catalonia, SpainThe publisher is Group Bondia. It launched the newspaper in a free Andorran edition in Catalan. In 2006 it started publishing another edition in Lleida, Catalonia with a run...

as well as several local newspapers.

Culture




The official and historic language is Catalan. Thus the culture is Catalan, with its own specificity.

Andorra is home to folk dances like the contrapàs and marratxa, which survive in Sant Julià de Lòria
Sant Julià de Lòria
Sant Julià de Lòria is one of the parishes of Andorra, in the far south of that country. It is also the name of the main town of the parish, which at 908 m is the lowest settlement in Andorra...

 especially. Andorran folk music has similarities to the music of its neighbours, but is especially Catalan
Music of Catalonia
The music of Catalonia comprises one of the oldest documented musical traditions in Europe, and has displayed a rich musical culture continuously for at least two thousand years.-History:...

 in character, especially in the presence of dances such as the sardana
Sardana
The sardana is a type of circle dance typical of Catalonia, Spain. The dance was originally from the Empordà region, but started gaining popularity throughout Catalonia during the 20th century....

. Other Andorran folk dances include contrapàs in Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella is the capital of the Co-principality of Andorra, and is located high in the east Pyrenees between France and Spain. It is also the name of the parish that surrounds the capital....

 and Saint Anne's dance in Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra's national holiday is Our Lady of Meritxell
Our Lady of Meritxell
Our Lady of Meritxell is an Andorran Roman Catholic statue depicting an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Our Lady of Meritxell is the patron saint of Andorra. The original statue dates from the late 12th century. However, the chapel in which it was housed burned down on September 8 and 9, 1972, and...

 Day, September 8. American Folk Artist Malvina Reynolds, intrigued by its defense budget of $4.90, wrote a song "Andorra". Pete Seeger added verses, and sang "Andorra" on his 1962 album "The Bitter and the Sweet.".

Sports


Andorra is famous by the practice of Winter Sports and also by Roller Hockey
Roller hockey (Quad)
Roller Hockey is a team sport that enjoys significant popularity in a number of Latin countries. Depending on territories, it is also known as Hóquei em Patins, International Style Ball hockey, Rink Hockey or Hardball Hockey. Roller Hockey was a demonstration rollersport in the 1992 Summer...

. Andorra usually plays in CERH Euro Cup and in FIRS Roller Hockey World Cup.
In 2011, Andorra will be the host country to the 2011 European League Final Eight
2011 European League Final Eight
The 2011 CERH European League Final Eight was the 46th edition of the CERH European League organized by CERH. It was held in May 2011 in Andorra la Vella, Andorra.-Arena:...

.
The country is represented in association football by the Andorra national football team
Andorra national football team
The Andorra national football team represents Andorra in association football and is controlled by the Andorran Football Federation, the governing body for football in Andorra. The team has enjoyed very little success due to the Principality's tiny population, the fourth smallest of any UEFA...

. However, the team has had little success internationally due to Andorra's small population.

See also


External links