Principality of Andorra
Area: 468 sq. km. (180 sq. mi.); about
half the size of New York City.
Cities: Capital–Andorra la Vella.
Climate: Temperate, cool, dry.
Nationality: Noun and adjective–Andorran(s).
Population (December 2005): 78,549.
Annual growth rate: 2.4%.
Ethnic groups: Catalan, Spanish, French,
Religion: Roman Catholic.
Languages: Catalan (official), Spanish, French.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16.
Health: Infant mortality rate--3/1,000.
Life expectancy--76 yrs. male, 81 yrs.
Type: Parliamentary democracy that
retains as its heads of state two co-princes.
Constitution: Ratified in March 1993.
Branches: Heads of State--Two co-princes
(President of France, Bishop of Seu d’Urgell in
Spain). Executive--Head of Government
(Cap de Govern) and eleven ministers.
1419) consisting of 28 members. Judicial--Civil
cases heard in first instance by four judges
(batlles) and in appeals by the one-judge
Court of Appeals. The highest body is the
five-member Superior Council of Justice.
Criminal cases are heard by the Tribunal of
Courts in Andorra la Vella.
Subdivisions: Seven parishes (parroquies)--Andorra
la Vella, Canillo, Encamp, La Massana, Ordino,
Sant Julia de L˛ria, and Escaldes make up the
districts represented in the General Council.
Political parties/groups: Andorran Liberal Party
(PLA), CDA (Democratic Center of Andorra), and
the Social Democratic Party (PS).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (2004): $1.84 billion.
Natural resources: Hydroelectric power, mineral
water, timber, iron ore, lead.
Agriculture: Products--tobacco, sheep.
Industry: Types--tourism, (mainstay of
the economy), tobacco products, furniture.
Trade: Major activities are commerce and
banking; no official figures are available.
Official currency: Euro.
Andorrans live in seven valleys that form
Andorra’s political districts. Andorrans are a
minority in their own country; Spanish, French,
and Portuguese residents make up 64% of the
The national language is Catalan, a romance
language related to the Provenšal groups. French
and Spanish are also spoken.
Education law requires school attendance for
children up to age 16. A system of French,
Spanish, and Andorran public schools provides
education up to the secondary level. Schools are
built and maintained by Andorran authorities,
who pay also for Andorran teachers. French and
Spanish schools pay for their own teachers.
About 35% of Andorran children attend the French
primary schools, 35% attend Spanish, and 29 %
attend Andorran schools. Andorran schools follow
the Spanish curriculum, and their diplomas are
recognized by the Spanish education system. In
July 1997, the University of Andorra was
established. The number of students makes it
impossible for the University of Andorra to
develop a full academic program, and it serves
principally as a center for virtual studies,
connected to Spanish and French universities.
The only two graduate schools in Andorra are the
Nursing School and the School of Computer
Andorra is the last independent survivor of
the March states, a number of buffer states
created by Charlemagne to keep the Muslim Moors
from advancing into Christian France. Tradition
holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the
Andorran people in return for their fighting the
Moors. In the 800s, Charlemagne’s grandson,
Charles the Bald, made Count of Urgell overlord
of Andorra. A descendant of the count later gave
the lands to the diocese of Urgell, headed by
Bishop of Seu d’Urgell.
In the 11th century, fearing
military action by neighboring lords, the bishop
placed himself under the protection of the Lord
of Caboet, a Spanish nobleman. Later, the Count
of Foix, a French noble, became heir to Lord
Caboet through marriage, and a dispute arose
between the French Count and the Spanish bishop
In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the
signing of a pareage, which provided that
Andorra’s sovereignty be shared between the
Count of Foix and the Bishop of Seu d’Urgell of
Spain. The pareage, a feudal institution
recognizing the principle of equality of rights
shared by two rulers, gave the small state its
territory and political form.
Over the years, the title was passed between
French and Spanish rule until, in the reign of
the French King Henry IV, an edict in 1607
established the head of the French state and the
Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra.
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 transportation and
communications have removed the country from its
Until recently, Andorra’s political system
had no clear division of powers into executive,
legislative, and judicial branches. A
constitution was ratified and approved in 1993.
The constitution establishes Andorra as a
sovereign parliamentary democracy that retains
as its heads of state two co-princes.
The fundamental impetus for this political
transformation was a recommendation by the
Council of Europe in 1990 that, if Andorra
wished to attain full integration into the
European Union (EU), it should adopt a modern
constitution, which guarantees the rights of
those living and working there. A Tripartite
Commission--made up of representatives of the
Co-princes, the General Council, and the
Executive Council--was formed in 1990 and
finalized the draft constitution in April 1991.
Under the 1993 constitution, the co-princes
continue as heads of state, but the head of
government retains executive power. The two
co-princes serve co-equally with limited powers
that do not include veto over government acts.
They are represented in Andorra by a delegate.
As co-princes of Andorra, the President of
France and the Bishop of Seu d’Urgell maintain
supreme authority in approval of all
international treaties with France and Spain, as
well as all those, which deal with internal
security, defense, Andorran territory,
diplomatic representation, and judicial or penal
cooperation. Although the institution of the
co-princes is viewed by some as an anachronism,
the majority sees them as both a link with
Andorra’s traditions and a way to balance the
power of Andorra’s two much larger neighbors.
Andorra’s main legislative body is the
28-member General Council (Parliament). The
sindic (president), the subsindic,
and the members of the Council are elected in
the general elections held every four years. The
Council meets throughout the year on certain
dates set by tradition or as required. The most
recent general elections took place on April 24,
At least one representative from each parish
must be present for the General Council to meet.
Historically, within the General Council, four
deputies from each of the seven individual
parishes provided representation. This system
allowed the smaller parishes, which have as few
as 562 voters, the same number of
representatives as larger parishes, which have
up to 4,014 voters. To correct this imbalance, a
provision in the 1993 constitution introduced a
modification of the structure and format for
electing the members of the Council; under this
format, half of the representatives are chosen
by the traditional system, while the other half
are selected from nationwide lists.
A sindic and a subsindic are
chosen by the General Council to implement its
decisions. They serve four-year terms and may be
reappointed once. They receive an annual salary.
Sindics have virtually no discretionary
powers, and all policy decisions must be
approved by the Council as a whole. Every four
years, after the general elections, the General
Council elects the head of government, who, in
turn, chooses the other members of the Executive
Council. The current council has eleven
The judicial system is independent. Courts
apply the customary laws of Andorra,
supplemented with Roman law and customary
Catalan law. Civil cases are first heard by the
batlles court –a group of four judges,
two chosen by each co-prince. Appeals are heard
in the Court of Appeals. The highest body is the
five-member Superior Council of Justice.
Andorra has no defense forces and only a
small internal police force. All able-bodied men
who own firearms must serve, without
remuneration, in the small army, which is unique
in that all of its men are treated as officers.
The army has not fought for more than 700 years,
and its main responsibility is to present the
Andorran flag at official ceremonies.
Andorra held national elections on April 24,
2005. The ruling Andorran Liberal Party (PLA)
won the elections but lost the absolute majority
it had attained in the 2001 elections. After 10
years in power, Cap de Govern and PLA leader
Marc FornÚ stepped down as Cap de Govern. His
replacement is Former Foreign Minister Albert
Pintat, who comes from the same party. The
center-right PLA went from 15 to 14 seats in the
28-seat Parliament, while the center-left Social
Democratic Party (PS) doubled its representation
from 6 to 12 seats. The remaining 2 seats are
held by CDA-Segle-21, a union of two
center-right parties which are likely to join in
a coalition with PLA. Since the ratification of
the constitution in 1993, four coalition
governments have been formed. The Pintat
government’s principal goals are to address
housing scarcity, modernize the country’s
taxation system, and press forward with reforms
required to remove Andorra from the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development's
(OECD) list of tax haven countries.
There has been a redefinition of the
qualifications for Andorran citizenship, a major
issue in a country where only 35.7% of 78,549
are legal citizens. In 1995, a law to broaden
citizenship was passed but citizenship remains
hard to acquire, with only Andorran nationals
being able to transmit citizenship automatically
to their children. Lawful residents in Andorra
may obtain citizenship after 25 years of
residence. Children of residents may opt for
Andorran citizenship after 18 if they have
resided virtually all of their lives in Andorra.
Mere birth on Andorran soil does not confer
citizenship. Dual nationality is not permitted.
Non-citizens are allowed to own only a 33% share
of a company. Only after they have resided in
the country for 20 years, will they be entitled
to own 100% of a company. A proposed law to
reduce the necessary years from 20 to 10 is
pending approval in Parliament.
By creating a modern legal framework for the
country, the 1993 constitution has allowed
Andorra to begin a shift from an economy based
largely on tax-free shopping to one based on
tourism and international banking and finance.
Despite promising new changes, it is likely that
Andorra will, at least for the short term,
continue to confront a number of difficult
issues arising from the large influx of foreign
residents and the need to develop modern social
and political institutions. In addition to
questions of Andorran nationality and
immigration policy, other priority issues will
include dealing with housing scarcities and
speculation in real state, developing the
tourist industry, defining its relationship with
the European Union, and reforming the investment
law to allow up to 100% foreign ownership in
activities and sectors considered strategic.
Principal Government Officials
Co-Prince--Jacques Chirac, President of
Co-Prince--Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia, Bishop of
Seu d'Urgell, Spain
Head of Government--Albert Pintat
Sindic General--Joan Gabriel
Charge d’Affaires to the United Nations--Jelena
Pia-Comella (also accredited as representative
to the U.S. Government)
Andorra’s national income in 2004 was
approximately $1.84 billion, with tourism as its
principal component. Attractive for shoppers
from France and Spain because of low taxes, the
country also has developed active summer and
winter tourist resorts. With some 270 hotels and
400 restaurants, as well as many shops, the
tourist trade employs a growing portion of the
domestic labor force.
There is a fairly active trade in consumer
goods, including imported manufactured items,
which, because they are taxed at lower rates,
are less expensive in Andorra than in
neighboring countries. Andorra’s tax-free status
has also had a significant effect on its
relationship with the European Union. Its
negotiations with the Union began in 1987. An
agreement that went into effect in July 1991
sets duty-free quotas and places limits on
certain items--mainly milk products, tobacco,
and alcoholic beverages. Andorra is permitted to
maintain price differences from other EU
countries, and visitors enjoy limited duty-free
allowances. In June 2004 Andorra signed a series
of accords with the EU in the fields of
economic, social, and cultural cooperation. Tax
legislation was also approved that taxes
interest from monetary products and
fixed-interest investments belonging to
non-residents while maintaining bank secrecy.
The results of Andorra’s elections thus far
indicate that many support the government’s
reform initiatives and believe Andorra must, to
some degree, integrate into the European Union
in order to continue to enjoy its prosperity.
Although less than 2% of the land is arable,
agriculture was the mainstay of the Andorran
economy until the upsurge in tourism. Sheep
rising has been the principal agricultural
activity, but tobacco growing is lucrative. Most
of Andorra’s food is imported.
In addition to handicrafts, manufacturing
includes cigars, cigarettes, and furniture for
domestic and export markets. A hydroelectric
plant at Les Escaldes, with a capacity of 26.5
megawatts, provides 40% of Andorra’s
electricity; Spain provides the rest.
Since the establishment of sovereignty with
the ratification of the constitution in 1993,
Andorra has moved to become an active member of
the international community. In July 1993,
Andorra established its first diplomatic mission
in the world, to the United Nations. In early
1995, the United States and Andorra established
formal diplomatic relations. Andorra has also
expanded relations with other nations.
Andorra is a full member of the United
Nations (UN), United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),
United Nations Conference for Commerce and
Development (UNCCD), International Center of
Studies for Preservation and Restoration of
Cultural Heritage (ICCROM), Telecommunications
International Union (UIT), International Red
Cross, Universal Copyright Convention, European
Council, EUTELSAT, World Tourism Organization,
Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE), Customs Cooperation Council (CCC),
Interpol, and International Monetary Fund among
others. Since 1991, Andorra has had a special
agreement with the European Union.
As noted, the United States established
diplomatic relations with Andorra in February
21, 1995. The two countries are on excellent
terms. The U.S. Ambassador to Spain is also
accredited as Ambassador to Andorra. United
States Consulate General officials based in
Barcelona are responsible for the day-to-day
conduct of relations with Andorra.
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http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
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for International Travel (HHS publication number
CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
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