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What's Up With The Country Of Andorra?  
User currently offlineHartsfieldboy From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 552 posts, RR: 1
Posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 3139 times:

I've always wondered how a country like Andorra exists. It sits between two historical superpowers (Spain and France), yet it is its own country. Looking up info about it, I found out that it has been in existence since the year 843. The country was formed by a compromise over an argument of who controlled the land. I was also surprised to learn that they have their own language, Catalan. I'm very amazed that a language spoken by only 60,000 people could survive this long, especially when many of them also speak French or Spanish.

My questions are, why have a millennia long compromise over a tiny piece of land? Why didn't in some point in history Spain or France just simply take it over when they were the most powerful country? There has to be more to the story than just a simple compromise.

Has anyone here been to that country? What is it like? That sounds like a place I'd like to visit one day. What kind of jobs do people have over there?

Do they fianace their own infrastructure? They have enough money generated by 60,000 people to build roads, sewers and other stuff? Thier GDP is 1.2 Billion, or US$18,000 per person

[Edited 2003-05-08 18:30:16]

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMarcus From Mexico, joined Apr 2001, 1808 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 3118 times:

Catalan is also spoken in........Catalunya


Kids!....we are going to the happiest place on earth...TIJUANA! signed: Krusty the Clown
User currently offlineSonic From Lithuania, joined Jan 2000, 1670 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3113 times:

It was not a country, but condominium before. Condominium means territory/colony ruled by two (or more) countries. As you could easily guess, Andora was ruled by both France and Spain. Probably because these two countries had some dispute over the territory, so they decided to solve it this way. Andorra since then was supposed to be ruled by bishop of certain Spain city and representative of French ruler. It gained total freedom only in 1993 actually.

User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3108 times:

There are a few really small countries in Europe, Andorra, Vatican state, San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Malta are the smallest. The reason they
survive is as a transit place and a place with low tax.
Read more about Andorra on www.cia.gov


User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3100 times:

I was also surprised to learn that they have their own language, Catalan. I'm very amazed that a language spoken by only 6000 people could survive this long, especially when many of them also speak French or Spanish.

Catalan is also a minority language in surrounding areas. It's being eroded by mass media, etc. but historically languages could get by quite happily without millions of speakers.


The country was formed by a compromise over an argument of who controlled the land

If I remember correctly, Andorra was originally part of the Seo of Urgel. The compromise was that it would be ruled alternately by the (Spanish) Bishop of Urgel and by a French count whose claim eventually passed to the French head of state. Both of these have local representatives (like governors) in Andorra.

However, they don't actually control Andorra any more than the Queen controls Britain! Actual government is a fairly conventional parliamentary democracy, although there are a few oddities because some of the constituencies are so small.


Do they fianace their own infrastructure? They have enough money generated by 6000 people to build roads, sewers and other stuff?

Smaller budget, but fewer people to serve!
Andorra also acts as a tax haven in some respects, so that brings revenue, as does tourism. Andorra certainly isn't poor, and I don't think it gets any foreign aid.


What kind of jobs do people have over there?

Same as anywhere, really. Service jobs dominate the economy. Again, there's a little distortion due to tax differences tempting people and companies across borders ISTR tobacco-growing used to be a big industry but not any more. Tourism dominates the economy.

Andorra has one foot in the EU and one foot out. Take Euros. If you're going, you should have no trouble finding deals outside the peak season.

It's a very pretty little country, and I loved it (unfortunately a brief visit)... it's definitely on the shortlist when I look for a new job.



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3087 times:

It was not a country, but condominium before. Condominium means territory/colony ruled by two (or more) countries. As you could easily guess, Andora was ruled by both France and Spain. Probably because these two countries had some dispute over the territory, so they decided to solve it this way.

We tend to assume that each country is a block of (mostly) contiguous land, with a single government and fixed borders; such that each piece of land is a part of one country (no more and no less); that people tend to speak the same language; that there are no internal constitutional differences or trade barriers; that the government has the same powers everywhere in the country; and so on.

This was not the case when Andorra was formed. Countries were ruled personally; borders moved according to warfare and inheritance and deals between rulers; a person might rule two unrelated regions - contiguous or not - with different powers in each; there might be marcher lands of very dubious status on the border between two competing states; one person could owe homage (or just cash  Smile ) to another person in return for economic control of a "country"; and so on.

Therefore the term "country" as we understand it now is very misleading if applied to Andorra back then, but if we're cautious we can say that Andorra was no less a country in 1200 than were England or France.



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3086 times:

(yeah, I'm a history geek too. Sorry.)



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineHartsfieldboy From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 552 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3077 times:

Bobrayner: I'm a history geek, too. Why do you think I bothered looking up info about Andorra?  Smile

About the infrastructure, Andorra is in mountainous terrain, so road building/repair is going to be really expensive. The cost of a basic two land road isn't going to vary significantly with a population of 60,000 or a population of 200,000


User currently offlineSonic From Lithuania, joined Jan 2000, 1670 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3074 times:

Hartsfieldboy, i was in Andorra. There are no 4 lane highways there, just typical two lane mountain roads. They are of quite a good quality, but you must remember that distances are very short. You can see signs like for example "Encamp 0,7", etc. 20 kilometers is quite a big distance in Andorra for example.

User currently offlineEverettWA From Turkey, joined Sep 1999, 330 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3058 times:

Andorra has some really good skiing, so winter tourism brings in cash... Think of it as one big ski resort in fact, it's not that much bigger...

User currently offlineF-WWKH From Taiwan, joined Jun 1999, 322 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3044 times:

Andorra is basically a too large-scale supermarket  Wink/being sarcastic

User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 33
Reply 11, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3038 times:

Ah, Andorra. On my quest to set foot in every European country, I spent a day there in 1998.

It´s an agglomeration of a few Pyrenean villages which happens to be a sovereign state. Yes, The French President and the archbishop of La Seo de Urgel are co-rulers, but:

Bobrayner says:
>>>However, they don't actually control Andorra any more than the Queen controls Britain!

Substitute "Britain" with "Australia" and you get the idea  Smile/happy/getting dizzy .

Their money stems from tourism and being a tax haven. Bus loads of tourists pour into the country to do tax free shopping.

The main access route is from Spain; the only border crossing to France is not more than a side road. There were plans to build an Andorra airport near Seo de Urgel; the land needed was to be traded from Spain in exchange for an identically sized Andorran chunk. But somehow I haven´t heard anything about that proposal for quite some time now.

Official languages are French, Spanish and Catalan. Currency used to be Franc and Peseta, now it´s the Euro. However, since Andorra never bothered to formalize this currency union with France and Spain, they are not allowed to mint Euros of their own (unlike Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican that have such bilateral agreements with France and Italy, respectively).
The Andorran government is currently in negotiations with the EU to change that, but the EU uses the minting rights as a bargaining chip: they want Andorra to stop being an off-shore tax haven which drains money from EU states with (higher) taxes. Since both sides don´t budge a milimetre, I don´t really see Andorran Euros in the foreseeable future.

So "Andorra has one foot in the EU and one foot out." is not really correct.

Postal services: both La Poste from France and the Spanish Correos have set up postal administrations in Andorra. This leads to the interesting situation that there are Andorran stamps issued by both La Poste and Correos. It was even more interesting when these stamps were in different currencies.

Oh, and finally an interesting trivium: the country with the highest limit for coming of age is Andorra: 25 years!

That´s all I can come up with from top of my head.

Daniel Smile


User currently offlineSonic From Lithuania, joined Jan 2000, 1670 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3033 times:

Airsicknessbag, why doesn't Andorra introduces it's own currency than? Many small countries, like Malta for example, has their own currency. Currency could be pegged to Euro if they want so...

User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 33
Reply 13, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3019 times:


Don´t know, have to ask the Andorrans there  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

There´s not really a point in having a currency of one´s own and pegging it permanently to another currency. That´s just window-dressing, designed to appeal to underlying irrational patriotic feelings. In fact all European mini countries except Malta don´t have currencies of their own.

Btw, the 1993 figure you mention is just the introduction of the current constitution, the first written one. Nothing to do with independence or sovereignty.

Daniel Smile


User currently offlineSonic From Lithuania, joined Jan 2000, 1670 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2988 times:

Airsicknessbag, currency could also be unpegged obviously and also it will be easier to have currency pegged to Euro than to get permition to print Euros probably. WHile the outcome would be exacly the same. BTW, even with pegged currency you can repeg it anytime - like we did with our Litas by repegging it from US Dollar to Euro just a few days before Dollar started falling.

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