Monday, February 16, 2015

Andorra - About

Andorra is a tiny spec of country nestled in the Pyrenees between France and Spain.  It's only 37% of the size of NYC.  It is suppose to have some of the best skiing in Europe.  As one might assume, the ski resorts have brought with them some great money and a lot of tourists.  About 10.2 million people visit annually.  Which is pretty impressive when you consider that only 85,000 people hail from Andorra.

I had never head of Andorra before, but when I mentioned it to my French au pair, her face lit up and she told me about the great, cheap shopping in Andorra.

Andorra belives itself to be the last autonomous member of the Marca Hispanica, the region created by Charlemagne to protect France from Moorish Spain, thus tracing their kingdom back to the 9th century.

Since 1278 Andorra has been ruled by the guy in charge of France (once the king and now the French president) and the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain.  It's considered a co-principality where the Catalonian bishop and French president are co-princes.  Andorra remained neutral in both the Napoleonic Wars and WWII.  They did declare against Germany in WWI, but they never actually sent any forces.  They were forgotten from the Treaty of Versailles so even though they were neutral in WWII, they were still technically at war with Germany from WWI until 1958 when a peace treaty was signed.

In 1993 a parliamentary representative democracy was formed.  Now the co-princes have very reduced and specific powers.

The official language is Catalan and the culture is basically Catalan with a twist.

As little as a generation ago, before the skiing and hiking brought all the tourism, Andorra was a smuggler's haven.  It still has very user friendly tax and bank secrecy laws.

Oddly enough, seafood is very popular, but since Andorra so mountainous nothing grows very well.  Thus they import almost all of their food.  So I guess if you are importing anyways, you might as well make it seafood.  They make some good wines and cheeses, as you might expect since it's sandwiched between France and Spain.

So, most of the videos are serious in nature, but this one from the Onion is too funny.  I just had to share it.

Additional Reading:

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