Do you know the Principality of Andorra? What are the advantages of living in Andorra?

12 curiosities about the Principality

Andorra is a unique country located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain.

Its territory is divided in seven Parishes, spread over 468 square kilometers, and has 77.000 inhabitants. Andorra la Vella is the capital, being the highest in Europe.

Specially known for its competitive taxes, Andorra offers an incomparable quality of life in an enviable natural environment.

We present hereby 12 curious and fascinating facts about Andorra that you may not know.

1 – Andorra is the largest microstate in Europe and the only co-principality in the world.

The principality officially became a parliamentary democracy on March 14th of 1993, following the adoption of a Constitution by popular referendum.

Andorra has two co-princes and Heads of State, the President of the French Republic, and the Bishop of Urgell, in Spain. As established in the Constitution, both must exercise their authority jointly and undividedly.

The election of the Heads of State is not carried out by the Andorran people, but through the Pope in the case of the bishop of Urgell, and by the French people in the case of the President of France.

2 – Andorra has the smallest parliament in Europe.

It is named “Consell General” and was created in 1419 under the name of “Consell de la Terra” or “Council of the Earth” in English, being one of the oldest and most continuous in Europe. It is made up of 28 parliamentarians, who are elected in a mixed election: half by Parish constituency and the other half by national constituency.

About half of Andorran parliamentarians are women, compared to less than a quarter worldwide. Almost 47% of parliamentarians, including the “Sindic General” and the “Subsindic General”, are women.

3 – Andorra is the only country that has Catalan as its official language.

Andorra is the only country in the world that has Catalan as its official language. The common language of most of the population is Spanish, spoke by a third of the population.

The entry of Andorra into the United Nations, celebrated on July 28th of 1993, allowed for the first time in history the use of Catalan in an Assembly of this Organization.

Moreover, the proximity with France and Spain allowed the Andorran inhabitants to become naturally trilingual, speaking fluently Catalan, Spanish and French.

4 – The Euro is the official currency of Andorra, but the country is not part of the Euro area or the EU.

The country has no currency of its own or a central bank. Prior to the introduction of the Euro, Andorra used the Spanish peseta and the French franc. Although not a member of the European Union, Andorra has a customs agreement with the EU since 1990 and is currently negotiating an association agreement with it to access its internal market.

5 – Andorra, a collaborating State in the field of information exchange.

Since 2009, Andorra has been committed to automatically exchanging banking information with all countries through the “Common Reporting Standard” developed by the G20 and approved by the OECD Council in 2014.

There is no longer bank secrecy and Andorra has ceased to be considered a “tax haven”, forming part of the list of collaborating and approved countries.

6 – Andorra has never been at war and has no army.

There is no Ministry of Defense. The Principality has always been a territory of peace, even when the rest of the countries were embroiled in long conflicts. In terms of crime, Andorra is one of the safest countries in the world and its crime rate is one of the lowest.

7 – Andorra has one of the best health systems in the EU and in the world.

The country’s health service is among the top ten in the world. The best in the world in 2020 according to The Lancet magazine. Public health is of high quality and is accessible to all residents. In addition, everyone can benefit from health care abroad, thanks to Andorra’s international agreements with neighboring countries.

The country is sixth in the world ranking for life expectancy with an average of 83 years old.

8 – Andorra has high quality education systems.

In Andorra there is a plural educational structure where three educational systems coexist (Andorran, Spanish, and French) as public education.

The Spanish and French education systems are governed by the standard rules of their country of origin, having established agreements with the Principality of Andorra in the field of education.

Students can continue their higher studies at the University of Andorra or abroad.

There is the option of private education, also in English or other specialties at both the Àgora International School and the British College of Andorra.

9 – Andorra is a pioneering country in telecommunications.

In 2016, there was an analog shutdown and UMTS coverage. The country has a network of 79,000 kilometers of fiber optics for a State of 468 square kilometers and guarantees the internet connection in 100% of the territory.

Andorra has become an example of access to fiber optics for the rest of Europe.

10 – 90% of the territory of Andorra is nature.

Most of the Andorran territory is made up of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and meadows. It has a protected environment and an incomparable natural environment.

It has three large natural parks:

The Sorteny Valley with a very rich biodiversity with more than 700 species of flowers and plants.

The Comapedrosa Valley, which stands out for its imposing high mountain landscape with the highest peak in the Principality (2.942 meters), which gives the park its name.

The Madriu Valley, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a unique natural and cultural space. It occupies an area of ​​more than 4.000 hectares, which represents 10% of the surface of Andorra.

You can walk around the country without stepping on asphalt. Andorra has more than 60 hiking routes that allow you to travel around the country following the GR trail.

11 – Andorra, known for being the largest ski area in southern Europe.

It has 300 km of ski slopes spread over two large areas, Grandvalira and Vallnord.

Visited by many elite athletes, Andorra has many high-level facilities for the practice of sports and technology in both winter and summer.

The country has hosted all kinds of events and sports competitions related to snow and mountains, such as the final of the Alpine Ski Cup and the Total Fight Masters of Freestyle in 2019, the Freeride World Tour held this year and many more competitions such as mountain biking and motorcycles in recent years.

12 – Andorra is committed to guaranteeing environmental sustainability.

Since 2016, the country has quadrupled its renewable energy production.

The country is willing to be increasingly sustainable in all areas by encouraging the entire population to participate in some of the following initiatives:

– The green school that aims to integrate sustainability into the day-to-day of students;

– The management of waste that raises awareness among the population through the selective collection;

– The international agreements with which Andorra is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions;

– The recovery of wildlife to preserve native species and their natural habitats;

– The first country cogeneration plant.

In addition to other long-term goals to reduce energy dependence and increase the production of renewable energy.

Pamela Douangdara

Augé Legal & Fiscal