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Geography of Andorra

Learn Information about the Small European Country of Andorra

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Andorra Flag

The Andorra flag has three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), yellow, and red with the national coat of arms centered in the yellow band; the coat of arms features a quartered shield.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated June 21, 2011

Population: 84,825 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Andorra la Vella
Bordering Countries: France and Spain
Area: 180 square miles (468 sq km)
Highest Point: Pic de Coma Pedrosa at 9,665 feet (2,946 m)
Lowest Point: Riu Runer at 2,756 feet (840 m)

Andorra is an independent principality that is co-governed by Spain and France. It is located in southwestern Europe between France and Spain and it is entirely landlocked. Much of Andorra's topography is dominated by the Pyrenees Mountains. Andorra's capital city is Andorra la Vella and its elevation of 3,356 feet (1,023 m) makes it the highest capital city in Europe. The country is known for its history, interesting and isolated location and high life expectancy.

History of Andorra

Andorra has a long history that dates back to the time of Charlemagne. According to the U.S. Department of State, most historical accounts claim that Charlemagne grated a charter to the region of Andorra in return for fighting against the Muslim Moors advancing from Spain. By the 800s the Count of Urgell became the leader of Andorra. Later a descendent of the Count of Urgell gave control of Andorra to the diocese of Urgell led by the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell.

By the 11th century the head of the diocese of Urgell put Andorra under the protection of the Spanish, under the Lord of Caboet, because of growing conflicts from neighboring regions (U.S. Department of State). Shortly thereafter a French noble became the heir to the Lord of Caboet. This led to conflict between the French and Spanish over who would control Andorra. As a result of this conflict in 1278 a treaty was signed and Andorra was to be shared between France's Count of Foix and Spain's Bishop of Seu d'Urgell. This led to a joint sovereignty.

From this time until the 1600s Andorra gained some independence but control often shifted back and forth between France and Spain. In 1607 France's King Henry IV made France's head of government and the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell co-princes of Andorra. The region has been ruled as a co-principality between the two countries ever since.

During its modern history, Andorra remained isolated from much of Europe and the rest of the world outside of Spain and France due to its small size and the difficulty involved with traveling there because of its rugged topography. Recently however, Andorra has begun to grow into a tourist European center as a result of improved communications and transportation development. In addition, Andorra still has very close ties to France and Spain, but it is more closely tied to Spain. The official language of Andorra is Catalán.

Government of Andorra

Today Andorra, officially called the Principality of Andorra, is a parliamentary democracy that is governed as a co-principality. The two princes of Andorra are the president of France and the Bishop Seu d'Urgell of Spain. These princes are represented in Andorra via representatives from each and make up the country's executive branch of government. The legislative branch in Andorra consists of a unicameral General Council of the Valleys, whose members are elected via popular election. Its judicial branch is made up of the Tribunal of Judges, Tribunal of the Courts, the Supreme Court of Justice of Andorra, the Supreme Council of Justice and the Constitutional Tribunal. Andorra is divided into seven different parishes for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Andorra

Andorra has a relatively small, well-developed economy that is based mainly on tourism, commerce and the financial industry. The main industries in Andorra are cattle, timber, banking, tobacco and furniture manufacturing. Tourism is also a major part of Andorra's economy and it is estimated that around nine million people visit the tiny country each year. Agriculture is also practiced in Andorra but it is limited because of its rugged topography. The main agricultural products of the country are rye, wheat, barley, vegetables and sheep.

Geography and Climate of Andorra

Andorra is located in southwestern Europe on the border between France and Spain (map). It is one of the world's smallest countries with an area of just 180 square miles (468 sq km). Most of Andorra's topography consists of rugged mountains (the Pyrenees Mountains) and very small, narrow valleys between the peaks. The highest point in the country is Pic de Coma Pedrosa at 9,665 feet (2,946 m), while the lowest is Riu Runer at 2,756 feet (840 m).

The climate of Andorra is considered temperate and it generally has cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers. Andorra la Vella, the capital and largest city of Andorra, has an average annual temperature range of 30.2˚F (-1˚C) in January to 68˚F (20˚C) in July.

To learn more about Andorra, visit the Geography and Maps section on Andorra on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (26 May 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Andorra. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/an.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Andorra: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107276.html

United States Department of State. (8 February 2011). Andorra. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3164.htm

Wikipedia.org. (2 June 2011). Andorra - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andorra

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