26 interesting facts about Andorra

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The most interesting facts about Andorra, from the heaviest smokers in the world to the highest country and capital city in Europe.

A historic church in Andorra surrounded by flowers, mountains and trees
Interesting facts about Andorra include its co-principality status (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Principality of Andorra
Population: 85,645
Area: 468 sq km
Capital city: Andorra la Vella
Major languages: Catalan, French, Castilian, Portuguese
Major religions: Christian
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Andorra

1. Andorra is a landlocked country in Southwestern Europe bordering France and Spain. Landlocked countries are completely surrounded by land and do not have access to the open sea.
– Source: CIA World Fact BookThe Telegraph

2. Andorra is the world’s 16th-smallest sovereign country by area and 11th-smallest by population.
– Source: World Bank

3. Andorra dates back to 803 when Emperor Charlemagne regained the region from the Moors. After Charlemagne’s death, Andorra was given to Spain’s Count of Urgell by Charles II, Charlemagne’s grandson.
– Source: BBC News

A map of Andorra
Andorra is located between France and Spain (Shutterstock)

4. Andorrans are the heaviest smokers in the world with the average person smoking 6,398 cigarettes a year.
– Source: The Tobacco Atlas

5. Andorra is the world’s only co-principality. The co-princes of the French president and the Spanish Bishop of Urgel are Andorra’s heads of state, but the roles are largely ceremonial.
– Source: BBC News, US News

6. Andorra’s flag is vertically striped with the colours blue, yellow and red, with a coat of arms in the centre which features the motto “Virtus unita fortior” (“Strength united is stronger”). The flag is a blend of the Spanish and French national flags.
– Source: Britannica

Andorra's flag flying against a blue sky
Andorra’s flag (Shutterstock)

7.  Andorra’s flag is very similar to several other national flags. Chad, Romania and Moldova all have the same colour scheme (although the shades differ slightly) while Moldova’s is identical other than a different coat of arms in the centre.
– Source: Lonely Planet Kids (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Global Limited: London

8. At 83.23 years, Andorra has the world’s seventh-highest life expectancy among sovereign nations (ninth overall).
– Source: CIA World Fact Book, Britannica

9. Located at an elevation of 1,023m (3,356ft), Andorra’s capital city, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital in Europe.
– Source: Lonely Planet

A bridge illuminated at night in Andorra la Vella
Andorra la Vella is the highest capital in Europe (Shutterstock)

10. Andorra is the world’s only country with Catalan as its sole official language. Some countries, such as Spain, have autonomous regions where Catalan is a co-official language.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

11. Even though Andorra is not a member of the European Union, the country enjoys a special relationship with the union and uses the Euro as its currency.
– Source: BBC News

12. Andorra does not have its own currency and does not have a central bank. Before the Euro was introduced, Andorra used the Spanish Peseta and the French Franc.
– Source: International Monetary Fund

13. Andorra has one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. Inscribed in 2004, the site is an example of how people have lived in the mountainous high Pyrenees for thousands of years.
– Source: UNESCO

Santa Coloma Church
The Santa Coloma Church in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley (Shutterstock)

14. Even though Andorra is tiny, it is the largest of the six European microstates. It is followed by Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.
– Source: International Monetary Fund

15. The origin of Andorra’s names is unconfirmed but it is believed to originate from the Arabic “ad-darra” meaning “the forest,” a reference to when it was part of the Spanish March (defensive buffer zone) against the invading Moors in the 8th century.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

16. Andorra is Europe’s highest country. Its average elevation is 1,996m (6,548ft), which is Europe’s highest and the world’s seventh-highest.
– Source: The Telegraph

Green mountains in Andorra
Andorra is a mountainous country (Shutterstock)

17. Around 10 million people visit Andorra every year, often for outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.
– Source: BBC News, Lonely Planet

18. This means Andorra has the highest number of tourists per capita in the world: 32.4.
– Source: Traveller Magazine

19. Today, tourism is the pillar of the Andorran economy, but historically, tobacco was the country’s leading industry.
– Source: BBC News, Visit Andorra

Cable cars and skiers on a snowy mountain
Andorra is a popular ski destination (Shutterstock)

20. Andorra did not officially participate in either of the world wars of the 20th century although it was reported to be still at war with Germany until 1958 after failing to sign a peace treaty following a declaration of war in 1914.
– Source: BBC News, New York Times

21. However, Andorra was occupied by French forces from 1936 to 1939 to protect the country from spillover from the Spanish Civil War.
– Source: BBC News

22. Russian Boris Skossyreff attempted to seize the monarchy of Andorra in 1934, announcing himself as Boris I of Andorra. His coup ultimately failed and he was arrested after declaring war on the Bishop of Urgel and he was transferred to Spain.
– Source: Eccardt, Thomas M. (2005). Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. Hippocrene Books: New York

A shopping mall in the capital city
Andorra was considered a tax haven (Shutterstock)

23. In 1993, Andorra finally became a parliamentary democracy when it held its first general elections under a new constitution. It joined the United Nations shortly afterwards.
– Source: BBC News, Britannica

24. For years, Andorra was considered a tax haven. However, in 2016, lawmakers agreed to end banking secrecy in the country as part of a crackdown on tax evasion following the 2008 global financial crisis.
– Source: The Guardian

25. Andorra is one of just 21 countries that do not have an army or regularly military force. Instead, the country’s defence is the responsibility of France and Spain.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

26. Finally, Andorra does not have any airports. All travellers visiting Andorra by public transport will arrive by bus.
– Source: The Telegraph, Lonely Planet2,


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