Situated in the middle of Pyrenees Mountains inbetween France and Spain, tiny Andorra measures just 25km north to south and 30km east to west. By road, Andorra is about 180km from Toulouse and 225km from Barcelona.
Pic de Coma Pedrosa on the Spanish border in north-western Andorra is the principality's highest point at 2,942m (9,650ft), while La Farga de Moles on the south-western Spanish frontier is the lowest at 838m (2,750ft).
Andorra enjoys a temperate climate, with snowy winters and warm summers. The country's mountain peaks often remain snowcapped until July.
- Language: Catalan, although Spanish and French are commonly spoken.
- Currency: €uro
- Area: 468 sq km
- Population: 70,000
- Capital city: Andorra la Vella
- People: Andorran (30%), Spanish (61%), French (6%)
- Religion: Roman Catholic
- Government: Parliamentary democracy
- Head of State: Co-Prince Joan Enric Vives Sicília
- Head of Government: Executive Council President Marc Forné Molné
- Major Industries: Tourism, duty-free shopping, sheep, timber, tobacco, banking
- Major Trading Partners: France, Spain, USA
- Member of EU: No
- Time Zone: CET (1 hour ahead of UK)
- International Dialling Code: +376
- Electricity: 125 or 220V at 50Hz
- Weights & measures: Metric
Important Telephone numbers:
- Police: 110
- Ambulance/Fire: 118
- Rescue: 112
Soldeu is one of the highest inhabited villages in the Pyrenees on the east side of Andorra, one mountain before the french border. In winter it's busy with some of the best slopes in the Pyranees mountains for skiing, snowboarding and any other snow-related activity you can think of. In Summer it's much more chilled out but there's just as much to offer with Trekking, climbing, mountain biking and a whole host of other mountain related stuff. However it still retains it's oringal charm - it's not unusual to see the local farmers driving their goat, sheep and cattle herds down the high street.
Soldeu has got a great friendly atmosphere - there's a wide choice of places to eat - everything from take-away to 5 star silver service and a great selection of bars, pubs and clubs to enjoy the apres-ski.
Soldeu is the birthplace of skiing in Andorra - the story goes that in 1924 a postman swapped his snowshoes for a couple of long wooden planks to get down the mountain side like he'd seen locals do in the French village of Porta. It wasn't long before others started to copy him and over time Soldeu became the first ski resort in Andorra. 30 years ago a scotsman who answers to the name of Norrie claims to have built the first ski school with a tea spoon. Buy him a drink and he'll give you the full story!
The Catalan Language
It's not French and it's not Spanish. Catalan is a completely separate language although it shares similarities to both. Andorra is the only country in the world where it's the official language.
Your first Catalan words...
- Bon dia
- Bona tarda
- Bona nit
- Adéu - Fins ara
Goodbye - See ya
I'm sorry/Excuse me
- Si us plau
- Sóc de Anglaterra
I'm from England
- Entén el l'anglès
Do you understand English?
- No ho entenc
I don't understand
- Quant val?
How much is it?
- On és l'hospital / la farmàcia / la policia?
Where is the hospital / the chemist / the police?
- On hi ha un restaurant / un hotel?
Where can I find a restaurant / a hotel?
- Em posa un cafè / un entrepà, si us plau?
May I have a coffee / a sandwich please?
- Dilluns, Dimarts, Dimecres, Dijous, Divendres, Dissabte, Diumenge
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
- Un, Dos, Tres, Quatre, Cinc, Sis, Set, Vuit, Nou, Deu
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting the Moors. Overlordship over the territory was passed to the local count of Urgell and eventually to the bishop of the diocese of Urgell. In the 11th century a dispute arose between the bishop and his northern French neighbour over Andorra.
In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a parage, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the French count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the bishop of La Seu d'Urgell, in Catalonia. This gave the small principality its territory and political form.
Over the years the title passed to the kings of Navarre. After Henry of Navarre became King Henry IV of France, he issued an edict (1607) that established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra.
In the period 1812–13, the French Empire annexed Catalonia and divided it in four departments. Andorra was also annexed and made part of the district of Puigcerdà (département of Sègre).
In 1933 France occupied Andorra as a result of social unrest before elections. On July 12, 1934, an adventurer named Boris Skossyreff issued a proclamation in Urgel, declaring himself Boris I, sovereign prince of Andorra, simultaneously declaring war on the bishop of Urgel. 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 and Franco's Spain.
In 1958 Andorra declared peace with Germany, having been forgotten on the Treaty of Versailles and remaining legally at war.
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 isolation and its political system was thoroughly modernized in 1993, the year in which it finally became a member of the United Nations.
Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts. Andorra's comparative advantage has recently eroded as the economies of adjoining France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs.
The banking sector, with its tax haven 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. The principal livestock activity is domestic sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture.
Andorra is not a full member of the European Union, 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 lacks a currency of its own and uses that of its two surrounding nations. Prior to 1999 these were the French franc and the Spanish peseta, which have since been replaced by a single currency, the euro. Unlike other small European states that use the euro, Andorra does not yet mint its own euro coins; in October 2004, negotiations between Andorra and the EU began on an agreement which would allow Andorra to mint its own coins.
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