35+ Facts About Andorra You Should Know

Discover 45+ facts about Andorra.

Nestled high in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain lies the microstate of Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra. It is one of the smallest states in Europe and is characterized by open pastures, craggy cliffs, steep wooded valleys, and glacial landscapes. There’s no doubt that this tiny country has an undeniable curiosity factor. Here are some interesting facts about Andorra.

Facts about Andorra

1. Andorra is the 6th smallest country in Europe and the 16th smallest nation in the world.

Andorra has a total land area of 467.63 km² (180.55 sq mi), which makes it 2.5 times the size of the American capital Washington, D.C. Andorra is also the largest of Europe’s so-called six microstates.

2. Andorra is a landlocked country.

It is bordered by France (55 km) to the north and Spain (63 km) to the south.

3. Andorra has an average elevation of 1,996 m.

Andorra consists predominantly of rugged mountains due to its location in the eastern Pyrenees mountain range. The country’s average elevation is one of the highest in the world at 1,996 meters (6549 ft) above sea level.

4. Andorra’s highest point is 2,942 m (9,652 ft) above sea level.

Coma Pedrosa, Andorra’s highest point is situated at the northwestern border with France and Spain. Shaped like a pyramid, the mountain is popular with hikers.

5. The capital of Andorra is Andorra la Vella.

Located in the southwest of the country, Andorra la Vella is Andorra’s largest city. It is also the country’s cultural and commercial center.

6. Catalan is the official language of Andorra.

Andorra is thus the only nation in the world to have Catalan as an official language. Besides Catalan, the most commonly spoken languages in Andorra are French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

7. Andorra is not a member of the European Union (EU) nor the Schengen Area.

However, if you are planning on visiting Andorra, you do not have to obtain a specific visa. If you do not require a Schengen visa to travel to Europe, you can enter Andorra simply with your passport.

8. Andorra does not have its own official army.

Responsibility for defending Andorra rests primarily with France and Spain. However, the country does have a ceremonial army, the primary role of which is the presentation of the Andorran flag during ceremonies.

9. There are no railways in Andorra.

The nearest railway station serving Andorra is in the French town of l’Hospitalet près l’Andorre within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of the Andorran border. The station lies on the line connecting Latour-de-Carol and Toulouse.

10. There are no airports in Andorra.

The closest airport to Andorra is Andorra–La Seu d’Urgell Airport in the Spanish county of Alt Urgell, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of the Andorran-Spanish border. However, most visitors to Andorra fly in through the airports of Toulouse and Barcelona, both three hours’ drive from Andorra.

11. Andorra is the world’s only co-principality.

One of the most unique Andorra facts is that it is the only nation in the world that is a co-principality meaning it two princes who jointly share the title of prince. What’s even more surprising is that the president of France and the Bishop of Urgell in Spain serve as co-princes for the country.

Historically, the co-princes represented Andorra internationally and jointly headed the government through their delegates. This structure changed in 1993 when Andorra transformed into a parliamentary democracy and transferred most of the powers of the co-princes to the General Council, Andorra’s unicameral parliament. 

The position of the co-princes is now a largely ceremonial one and they hold no real power. The real executive power over Andorra lies in the hands of its prime minister. The two co-princes exercise their functions with equal but limited powers and they don’t have the right to exercise their veto against legislation passed by the Andorran parliament.

12. Andorra does not have its own postal service.

Postal services in Andorra are operated by France and Spain, and not the state. Both of these nations issue special stamps that can be used by Andorrans. 

13. Andorra remained neutral during World War II.

In doing so, Andorra became an important smuggling route from Vichy France into neutral Spain.

14. Andorra was technically at war with Germany for 44 years. 

This is definitely one of the more obscure facts about Andorra. In spite of not having a military, Andorra was passively involved in World War I when it declared war on Germany. Andorra was not included in the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I, due to the fact that it had not actively fought in the war. Thus, Andorra remained the longest combatant in World War I, as it officially ended its conflict with Germany in 1958 when they signed a peace treaty.

15. Andorra lacked a currency of its own until it adopted the Euro.

Andorra used both the French franc and the Spanish peseta in banking transactions. When those two currencies were replaced by the euro between 1999 and 2002, the euro became the sole currency in Andorra.

16. Andorra has the 9th highest life expectancy in the world.

With a life expectancy of 83.2 years, Andorra enjoys the 9th highest life expectancy in the world.

17. Andorra has the most tourists per capita in the world. 

With 10-13 million visitors per year and a population of roughly 80,000, Andorra has the most visitors in the world per capita. The vast majority of the visitors to Andorra are Spanish and French citizens.

18. Andorra has very minimal taxes.

Andorrans are subject to little direct taxes. There’s no wealth tax, no gift tax, no inheritance tax, and very little income tax (ranges from 0-10% based on one’s earnings).

19. Approximately 9% of Andorra has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Curiously, it is only one place – the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. Considered the spiritual heart of Andorra, this secluded valley is a haven for rare or endangered wildlife.

20. Andorrans are a minority in their own country.

Andorrans, who are ethnic Catalans, make up less than 50% of the country’s population and are thus a minority in their own nation. The rest of the population is mostly composed of Spanish, Portuguese, and French nationals.

21. The national dish of Andorra is escudella.

Mainly a winter dish, escudella is a hearty stew containing a base of broth with cooked pasta, pulses, and various vegetables. The traditional Escudella also contains a few different kinds of meat – sausages, chicken, meatballs, and pork. veal, chicken, beef, and pork. 

22. Andorra has never been an active combatant in any war for the last 1000 years.

This is one of the more curious facts about Andorra, especially for history buffs. The last war that Andorra was actively involved in was when it was an active combatant was Charlemagne’s wars with the Islamic Moors. Although Andorra was technically involved in World War II, it never engaged in active combat.

23. Andorra was originally created as a buffer state by the French leader Charlemagne during the Middle Ages. 

Andorra is the last independent survivor of the buffer states founded by Emperor Charlemagne, the medieval emperor who ruled over much of Europe from 768 to 814, to thwart an invasion of Christian France by the Islamic Moors.

Many historians consider Charlemagne to be the architect of Andorran independence. Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in the late-8th century in return for helping the Frankish army win the battle against Moorish invaders.

24. Andorra has never won an Olympic medal.

Although Andorra has been taking part in the Olympics since 1976, they have never won a medal in either winter or summer Olympics.

25. Andorra leads the world in cigarette consumption per capita.

Yet another one of the surprising facts about Andorra! Okay, this not-so-glorious distinction may be due to the large number of French and Spanish citizens crossing the border for cheap tobacco.

However, there’s no doubting that Andorra is hooked on tobacco. It’s the number one cash crop in Andorra and has been a staple of the country’s agriculture for the past hundred years. 

26. Andorra’s fortunes have changed over the years.

Once an isolated and rather-poor nation of sheep-breeders and farmers, Andorra has come a long way since the 1950s due to tourism, European integration, and improvements in transport and communications. It is now one of the most prosperous countries in the world thanks to its booming tourism industry and lucrative banking sector. 

27. Andorra’s national flag is very similar to those of Romania, Moldova, and Chad.

It consists of a vertical tricolor of blue, yellow, and red with the coat of arms of Andorra in the center. Interestingly, the three stripes are not of equal width. The central yellow bar is marginally wider than the bars.

The Andorran flag combines aspects of several other flags that have been associated with the people of Andorra. Blue and red come from the colors of France’s flag, and the yellow and red are from Spain’s flag. Together they reflect a show of respect for the foreign powers to which Andorra has been historically linked. 

The central coat of arms displays four symbols, each representative of a historical lord of Andorra. Starting clockwise from the upper left, the symbols represent the Bishop of Urgell, Count of Foix, Catalonia, and the Viscounty of Béarn. 

28. Andorra celebrates its national day on 8 September. 

Andorra celebrates its national day on the founding of its co-principality. After Charlemagne’s death, his grandson Charles II named the Count of Urgell as overlord of Andorra. Andorra eventually passed to the Bishop of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya, a strategically important region bordering many important counties. 

However, tensions eventually escalated between the Church and the French heirs to the Urgell title. On 8 September 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage, making Andorra a co-principality to be shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Urgell of Spain. Eventually, the French part of the title was transferred to the King of France, and many centuries later, to the President of France.

29. Andorra has one of the strangest laws. 

One of the most fascinating Andorran facts is that Andorran law requires the head of each house (usually the oldest non-disabled male) to keep a rifle to be used when needed for national protection.

30. Andorra’s lowest point is still quite high. 

The lowest point in Andorra is the Runer River at 840 m (2,756 ft) above sea level.

31. Andorra boasts the highest capital in Europe. 

At an elevation of 1,023 m (3,356 ft) above sea level, Andorra la Vella is the highest capital city in Europe.

32. Football is the most popular sport in Andorra.

Sadly, the Andorra men’s national football team has enjoyed very little success and has never qualified for the World Cup of the Euro Championships.

33. Women only got the right to vote in Andorra in 1970.

Which is pretty late for a Western nation!

34. Andorra loves Charlemagne.

The Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne is so important to Andorran culture that their national anthem is called “The Great Charlemagne.”

34. Nature is virtually everywhere in Andorra.

More than 90% of Andorra consists of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and meadows.

35. Andorra is a haven for ski lovers.

Due to its topography, Andorra receives plenty of snowfall. Andorra is home to the largest skiable area in Southern Europe with over 180 miles of snow-laden slopes.

36. Andorra has only one university.

The state-funded Universitat d’Andorra (University of Andorra)  was established in 1988 and is based in the town of Sant Julià de Lòria.

37. Christianity is the most popular religion in Andorra.

Approximately 88% of Andorra’s population identifies as Roman Catholic.

38. Andorra takes care of its citizens.

Andorra provides universal health care and free primary and secondary education to its citizens.

39. Andorra drives on the right.