Andorra (officially Catalan Principat d'Andorra, German Principality
of Andorra) is a democratic state in the eastern Pyrenees between Spain
and France in the form of a parliamentary monarchy.
The communities of Andorra were first mentioned in a document in 839 as a fiefdom of the Counts of Urgell. The Pareatges Treaty of September 8, 1278 determined the division of dominion over the territory of Andorra between Bishop Pere d'Urtx of Urgell and Count Roger Bernard III. von Foix and is considered the founding document of the Andorran Co-Principate that still exists today. With 468 square kilometers, the principality is the largest of the six European mini-states. It is the only country in the world where two foreign officials share the function of head of state. The Bishop of Urgell and the President of France (succeeding the Counts of Foix) reign as co-princes in a symbolic dual power. In addition, an Andorran head of government will be elected. Andorra is counted among the so-called tax havens. A significant number of day visitors come for cheap alcohol and tobacco products. Andorra's name was also famous in the region because of the two competing radio stations based in Andorra, Radio Andorra and Sud Radio, which were operated by foreign licensees until 1981 and broadcast advertising-financed, mostly French-language entertainment programmes. Tourism, especially winter sports, is the most important economic factor today.
If you disregard the more theoretical possibility of chartering a
helicopter for around € 2500, you can only enter by car, bus or as a
Otherwise, an arrival is only possible via the nearest international airports of Barcelona or Toulouse with a subsequent three-hour drive to Andorra.
Arrival from Spain
The only passage of importance is the Duana de Sant Julià de Lòria (42° 26′ 7″ N 1° 28′ 22″ E). After the first roundabout there is a tourist info after 50m on the right hand side. From here to the capital is 14 km. From the Centro Comercial River, bus line 1 connects the village to Andorra city every 20 minutes from 6am to 10pm on weekdays and every half hour on Saturdays.
There are still two small road crossings:
Near the Spanish mountain village of Os de Civís on the CG-6 (42° 29′ 42″ N 1° 26′ 38″ E). This hamlet is in turn connected to the CG-1 near La Farga de Moles by a significantly longer serpentine road, so most locals drive the route through Andorra.
The same goes for the village of Tor. The CG-4 crosses the border here at the Coll de Cabús Pass (42° 29′ 42″ N 1° 26′ 38″ E).
From Barcelona-Sants there are three ways to travel the 200km by bus:
The most expensive variant is with Directbus. The company has a trip to Sant Julià de Lòria every two hours from 6.15 a.m. to 10.15 p.m., where you are unloaded at the end of the tunnel. The advantage is that there is direct service not only from Barcelona-Sants, but also from the Barcelona Airport terminals. Andbus also runs this route to the bus station.
Alsa buses with connections from all over Spain. First departure from Barcelona-Nord is around 7am. You drive via La Seu. It should be noted that there are buses with few stops that take 3¼ hours and those that go to a number of Catalonian villages. The price is the same for both. Grupo Julia also serves this route, but only as far as Julià de Lòria.
With the city bus from La Seu. From the Andorran-Spanish border it is 8km to La Seu d'Urgell. It may make sense to stay here, cheap accommodation is rare in Andorra. For the 17km to the capital you need half an hour. Departures are 7.45am-9pm every hour, with five departures on Sundays and public holidays. Camino Bus and Montmartell (formerly Hispano-Andorrana) share operations. The latter company also organizes trips to the airport and directly to Lerida and from Holy Week to October to the Costa Dorada.
From Reus (from 7.00 a.m.) via Tarragona there is a line for day trippers that returns at 5.00 p.m.
Lazara drives directly from Portugal via Galicia.
Aeroport de La Seu d'Urgell (Aeropuerto de Pirineos-Andorra, IATA: LEU; in Montferrer i Castellbò) wikipediacommons. Two weekly flights from Madrid with Aeronostrum, an Iberia subsidiary. On flight days there are airport buses (€10 one way/€18 return) that leave Andorra at 4pm. The return trip is 18:30 or 20 minutes after the plane has landed. Otherwise the landing field is used by general aviation, e.g. B. Board members of hedge funds with second Cessnas.
Arrival from France
On the border between Andorra and France there is the Túnel d'Envalira, which you can use to shorten the last stretch of the Port d'Envalira mountain pass (peak 1408 m).
The border crossing on the outskirts of Pas de la Casa. A tourist info is here next to the police station at the roundabout. French Customs Control is 2km further on the N22.
Pas de la Casa is connected to Andorra city by bus 4. Weekdays from 6.20 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. every 30-40 minutes, on Sundays and public holidays every 60-70 minutes.
Andbus runs three times a day from Toulouse-Gare Matabiau via Toulouse Airport and Ax-les-Thermes 189km to Andorra bus station and back. The prices are hefty at €36 one way/€64 return. (as of Nov 2022)
If you want to travel as close to Andorra as possible by train instead, there is the Gare d'Andorre-L'Hospitalet Andorre - L'Hospitalet. The stop is without any service, there is no longer a shuttle to Andorra. It is 13 km to Pas de la Casa. Here every two hours TER runs to Toulouse or Enveitg. There is also an Intercité daily to Paris-Austerlitz.
The Gare de Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg Latour-de-Carol - Enveitg can also be reached as the end point of the Cercanias line 3 from L'hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona) via the Spanish border station Puigcerda. It is 30 kilometers to Pas de Casa. Train buffs may also be interested in the stop for Le Petit Train Jaune, a narrow-gauge railway that runs to Villefranche de Conflent, halfway to Perpignan. The Intercités de Nuit Paris-Barcelona passes through here; from the highest point of a standard gauge railway in Europe you have a breathtaking view at 1562m.
Entry is permitted for EU citizens with a valid ID card or passport and a temporary ID card or passport, but the documents should be valid for up to three months after the planned departure. A stay of more than three months requires a residence permit.
Andorra is not a member of the European Union or the Schengen Agreement, but since it can only be reached via Spain or France, comparable entry regulations apply. Important: Non-EU citizens coming from countries that require a visa require a Schengen multi-entry visa.
EU rules apply to pets.
When shopping in Andorra, the customs regulations for entry into the
EU from non-EU countries must be observed when leaving the country. The
1.5 liters of alcohol with more than 22% or 3 liters for liqueurs under 22% or 5 liters of table wine.
300 cigarettes or 150 cigarillos or 75 cigars or 400g of tobacco.
75 g perfume and 375 ml cologne.
Non-agricultural goods for €900.
Agricultural products up to €300 but not more than 2.5kg powdered milk, 3kg condensed milk, 6kg fresh milk, 1kg butter, 4kg cheese, 5kg sugar and sweets, 5kg meat.
The hub of long-distance bus transport is the station in Andorra
City, which was newly built in 2017.
Six regular bus lines run between the villages in the country (current info nu katalan). On weekdays it operates from approx. 6.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., with a frequency of 30-40 minutes. On Sundays the buses only run half as often.
Tickets can be bought at the bus station or from the driver. There is a system of 3 zones. A single journey costs €1.90 / €3.45 / €4.80. Round trip (within 15 days) €3.55 / €5.00 / €7.30. A monthly ticket requires a chip card and generally costs €30 (without zones), the annual ticket €360. (Status: Sep 2022)
Three night lines run hourly on Fridays, Saturdays and before public holidays.
Winter tires are needed from November to April.
The speed limit for all privately usable vehicles (cars, motorcycles (motorcycles, scooters and mopeds), mobile homes and Quards/Trikes is 40 km/h within built-up areas and 90 km/h outside of built-up areas. There are no motorways in Andorra.
The blood alcohol limit is 0.5. Carrying high-visibility vests, a warning triangle and a first-aid kit is mandatory. If there is no right of way through traffic lights or signs, right before left generally applies, with the exception of field and forest paths which lead to paved roads, here road traffic has the right of way. On narrow mountain roads, oncoming traffic generally has the right of way. The driver is only allowed to make phone calls using the hands-free system.
Catalan(ish) is the official language, but Spanish is also often spoken. Since about 20% of the population primarily speaks French, this is also understood by many residents.
In the summer season, Andorra is good for hiking or mountaineering in the Pyrenees. There are 26 hikers' huts in the country, the huts are simple but functional and free of charge.
Climbers can also try the via ferratas in Andorra.
In the winter
Due to the high altitude of the country, winter sports are usually possible from November to May.
Alpine skiing: The numerous ski resorts in Andorra have merged into two large ski areas: Vallnord (Arcalis and Arinsal-Pal) and Grandvalira (Soldeu and Pas de la Casa)
Nordic skiing: Here you will find the transnational La Rabassa ski area.
From the start, Andorra used the euro of its neighboring countries.
Andorran euro coins have only been around since 2014, and because of
their small mintage, they mainly go to collectors.
Andorra has VAT due to tax law. (IGI) is 4.5%, some significantly cheaper prices than surrounding countries. Therefore, all big and small brands are represented. Especially in Andorra la Vella. The import and export restrictions for tobacco products, coffee products, fuel and alcoholic beverages must be observed.
Since 2019, the minimum cigarette price has been set at 65% of the price in neighboring countries, which is intended to reduce smuggling.
Retail opening times
Most retail shops in Andorra are open at the following times:
Monday to Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m
Sunday: 09:30 a.m. to 07:00 p.m
Since July 2022, an accommodation tax will be charged. This depends
on the quality of the accommodation and is €1.05-3.14 per night for the
first 7 days of a stay. Children under 16 are exempt.
There are no simple hotels. The mid-range is available from €60 (2022).
Campsites are plentiful along the main itinerary and very easy to find. If you want to spend the night away from the busy roads, you have to search a little. Some of these mostly smaller campsites are not recommended with a mobile home. A list of the main campsites can be found on the Andorran Tourist Board website (link below).
Long term stays
Just over half of Andorra's resident population are foreigners. Anyone coming to the country to take up work requires a work and residence permit (residencia). The employer provides the relevant documents. A certificate of good conduct from your home country and proof of residence are also required. Residence permits are valid longer after each extension: 1st permit: 6 months, 2nd 1 year, 3rd and 4th 2 years each, 5th 5 years, from 6th 10 years. After 20 years at the earliest, you can apply for naturalization. In France and Spain, non-EU citizens with valid Andorran residence permits are treated on an equal footing with foreigners who have residence permits from those countries.
Those who invest a lot of money, at least €350,000 depending on the program, receive a similarly staggered right of residence and must be in the country 90 days a year.
Statutory non-working holidays are: New Year's Day, Constitution Day,
National Day and Christmas Day.
Non-working public holidays are: Epiphany, Carnival, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday (April 10, 2023), May 1st, Labor Day, Whit Sunday (May 28th, 2023), Whit Monday, Assumption Day, All Saints' Day, Conception of Mary, May 2nd . Christmas Day.
Fire department: 118
Ambulance service / emergency doctor: 116
The only hospital in Andorra is the Hospital de Nostra Senyora de
Meritxell on Avinguda Fiter i Rossell in Escaldes-Engordany. The
European health insurance card is not valid.
Smoking is prohibited in publicly accessible indoor areas.
Due to its geographical location, Andorra has a relatively cool mountain climate. The mean temperatures in January are around -7 °C and in summer around 26 °C.
The post within Andorra is free of charge, only special services such as registered mail have to be franked. Shipping abroad can be done with both the Spanish and French post. Both institutions have branches in Andorra and issue their Andorran stamps. In general, the Spanish post is cheaper, the French more expensive.
Be careful when sending postcards. On the one hand it is often difficult to find a post office and on the other hand you have to make sure that you have the right stamps if you don't hand in the cards at a post office. The stamps are therefore only allowed for one postal system at a time, so there can be problems if you put an incorrectly stamped postcard in a mailbox. Furthermore, some mailboxes are only narrow openings in a house wall and are therefore difficult to identify as official mailboxes.
If you want to know something about the historical background, visit the Postal Museum in Ordino, for which there are combined tickets with the Casa d'Areny-Plandolit. Open Tue-Sat 10am-2pm and 3pm-6pm.
Mobile phone coverage is good, but due to the mountainous location there can be dead spots. Telecommunications are handled by the state-owned Andorra Telecom, the mobile network is called mobiland. Andorra is not part of the EU and therefore not part of the EU roaming zone - making calls with your local SIM card can therefore be very expensive. However, there is free WiFi on every corner, especially in the cities.
The origin of the name Andorra is unknown. However, there are
According to one theory, the country's name derives from the Navarro-Basque word andurrial, meaning "land covered with bushes".
Others connect it with a word anorra, which is said to contain the Basque word ur for "water".
The explanation that Charlemagne named the region in reference to the biblical valley of En Dor or Andor in Canaan, where the Midianites were defeated, is to be regarded as a legend.
The earliest evidence of human life in Andorra dates back to the last
Ice Age. The first Neolithic buildings can be found in the necropolis of
Feixa del Moro and at the Abri Balma de la Margineda. Pieces of pottery,
necklaces and other items are evidence of settlement before the Bronze
Age. Other archaeological finds are the stone engravings of Ordino, cave
drawings of La Roca de les Bruixes.
The inhabitants of the valleys of Andorra were probably first mentioned in a text by the Greek historian Polybius (2nd century BC). Polybius describes how Hannibal crossed the Pyrenees and mentions the Andosine tribes in this connection. Under Augustus, the Pyrenees and the north of the Iberian Peninsula finally became part of the Roman Empire. It is considered certain that in late antiquity the remains of retreating Basque groups mixed with Romans, Visigothic conquerors and the Celtic-Iberian aborigines in the Andorran valleys. The valleys of Andorra were successively and partly indirectly influenced by the Roman Empire, the Visigoths, the Moors and the Franks. Under the Frankish domination, the Hispanic border was established, the "Ularea", which delimited the Andorran territory.
According to legend, Charlemagne founded Andorra in 788 in gratitude
for the help of its inhabitants in fighting the Moors. He is said to
have granted the people of Andorra independence. In fact, however, the
country belonged to the Spanish March founded by Charlemagne, an area
that he had wrested from the Moors.
The municipalities of Andorra were first mentioned in 839 in the document sanctioning Urgell as a fief of the Count of Urgell. A letter from Charles the Bald to Sunifred I of Barcelona in 843 defines Andorran territory as belonging to the Count of Urgell, and the Act of Dedication of La Seu d'Urgell Cathedral, signed in 860, mentions that the territory Andorra is ecclesiastically subordinate to the Diocese of Urgell.
On January 27, 1133, Count Ermengol VI renounced. of Urgell after receiving a payment of 1200 sous (solidi) on his dominion rights in the valleys of Andorra in favor of the bishop of Urgell. The bishops of Urgell entrusted the defense and jurisdiction of Andorra to the noble family of Caboet, who came from Cabó, south of Urgell. The Caboet received their own fiefs in the valley of Andorra and Sant Joan from the bishop, which they managed as vassals of the bishops.
The last Caboet heiress, Arnaua, married Arnau, Viscount of Castelbon, in 1185. He was an ardent Cathar and, in alliance with Count Raimund Roger von Foix, who lived on the northern slope of the Pyrenees, tried to shed his vassal status to the Bishop of Urgell. To this end, Arnau de Castelbon married his heiress, Ermesende, to the future Count of Foix, Roger Bernard II, in 1202, passing the Caboet estates in Andorra to this influential family. Since the Counts of Foix refused to enter into a vassal relationship with the bishops of Urgell, a conflict smoldered between the two parties in the 13th century, which was often fought out in warlike terms.
The conflict could not be settled until 1278. At a meeting on September 8th in Lleida, Bishop Pere d'Urtx and Count Roger Bernard III. the so-called Pareatges Treaty, which provided for a division of rule over the disputed area. The two parties recognized each other as equal masters of Andorra. This contract marks the beginning of the condominium that existed until 1993 and thus also the actual foundation of the Co-Principality of Andorra; In 1288 it was expanded to include several articles. While the Bishop of Urgell retained his contractual rights, those of the Counts of Foix passed to the French crown in 1594 with the appointment of the last Count of Foix, Henry of Bourbon, as King of France.
In 1419 the Consell de la Terra was created, a kind of primary
parliament and the most important representative body of the
Andorran population. It was the forerunner of today's Consell
General de les Valls (General Council of the Valleys) and brought
together the heads of the most important Andorran families. The
political structure that had emerged in the Middle Ages stabilized
in the 16th to 18th centuries. The political and economic power of
the country's most important families also consolidated.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Andorra found itself in a difficult economic and institutional situation, which was partly due to internal Spanish conflicts. In the course of a forced centralization policy, Spain, which had emerged in the 15th century from a union of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, destroyed all Catalan institutions and threatened to apply the Decretos de Nueva Planta of 1714 to all third countries that imported goods to Spain. The decree provided for a tax to be levied on all products imported into Spain; it corresponded to 10% of the product value. The Andorrans had to negotiate for years before they obtained a special agreement, the Sentència Manutenció of 1738. This text laid down a tax exemption for Andorran products. At the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, Andorra was rife with conflicts and disputes, and the situation was unstable, both economically, socially and institutionally.
The French Revolution led to the French not recognizing the status of co-principality, a state of affairs that paralyzed the development of Andorra in the years that followed. The country lost all its privileges in relation to France, including tax exemption, the neutrality of its judiciary, and control over internal affairs and trade. In 1806, at the request of the Andorrans, Napoleon Bonaparte restored the status quo ante and renewed all the privileges and institutions that had linked Andorra to the French king. Since then, the office of French co-prince has been held by the respective head of state of France.
The establishment of traffic and communication routes in the 20th
century fundamentally changed the face of the country, which had been
largely isolated until then. The construction of a first paved road to
Spain in 1913 and another road to France and the interior of the
Andorran valleys in 1933, electrification, connection to the Spanish and
French post offices, the introduction of radio from 1935 and the opening
of a ski station in 1934 crucial factors. Institutionally, Andorran
democracy made significant progress in 1933 with the introduction of
suffrage for all adult males. However, adulthood was not until the age
of 27. Active women's suffrage was only introduced on April 14, 1970,
passive women's suffrage on September 5, 1973.
A curiosity in the history of Andorra happened in 1934. It was then that a Russian nobleman, Boris Skosyrev, gained influence in Andorra and had himself proclaimed King Boris I by the General Council on July 7th. His reign lasted until July 21, when, through the intervention of the Bishop of Urgell, he was arrested and expelled from the country.
Andorra maintained neutrality during World War II.
On August 25, 1973, the Bishop of Urgell, Joan Martí Alanís, and the French President, Georges Pompidou, met in Cahors, France. This was the first meeting of the Andorran co-princes since 1278.
Greater co-determination rights were denied to the population for a long time. Although Andorra had a representative body in the form of the General Council of the Valleys, it did not have direct legislative power. The institutional arrangement only changed in the 1990s. Planning for a reform of the Andorran institutions had already been initiated in the late 1970s, which culminated in the creation of an executive body, the government, in 1981. At the same time, the General Council was created as a legislative body. The rights of the two coprinces were exercised in the early 20th century by two non-Andorran resident delegates. They sent a bailiff to Andorra, who oversaw the legislation and administration and annually collected a symbolic tribute, mostly in kind, for the co-princes. On January 25, 1981, the General Council of the Valleys passed the first constitution after 703 years of independence. This provided for the formation of an executive council and an administrative reform.
Until 1993 there was no clear separation of legislative, executive
and judiciary powers in Andorra. Only the constitution of May 4, 1993
established Andorra as a sovereign state with a parliamentary-democratic
system in the modern sense. The two foreign patrons and co-princes
remained head of state, but they now only have a purely representative
function. Executive power was vested in a Prime Minister responsible to
Today Andorra is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and the European Monetary Union, but not the European Union.
Andorra is located in a high valley in the Pyrenees. The formation of
the valley dates back to the Ice Age, when glaciers widened the
originally narrow valleys and deposited the debris that they carried
with them as moraines. More than a third of Andorra lies above the tree
line. In the layers below, predominantly pine forests alternate with
meadows and pastures. The country is very mountainous. 65 mountain peaks
exceed the 2000 meter mark. The highest mountain is the Coma Pedrosa
with 2942 meters. The lowest point is 840 meters high and is at Sant
Julià de Lòria on the Spanish border. The border with France is 56.6 km
long and that with Spain 63.7 km.
Two arms of the Valira river, the Valira del Nord and the Valira d'Orient, unite roughly in the middle of the country to form the Valira, which flows on to Spain. The Valira supplies part of the country's energy through hydroelectric power stations on the river. Other important rivers are the Arinsal and the Riu Madríu.
Andorra has a high mountain climate with Mediterranean influences. Mean monthly average temperatures range from 0.7°C in January to 16.6°C in July. The average monthly amount of precipitation is between 41.6 millimeters in February and 97.4 millimeters in May.
The lowest layers are influenced by the Mediterranean, they are
characterized by evergreen stands of oak and alternating wasteland and
heathland. This is followed by a zone of oak and pine forests, with fir
trees thriving in shady areas. In the subalpine zone between 1600 and
2000 meters, pine and spruce forests predominate, with birch, ash,
boxwood, juniper, rhododendron and heather also growing here and there.
Alpine meadows spread out above the tree line. Andorra has a rich flora
with over 1150 proven species. In the past, the vegetation was mostly
kept low by grazing animals and the south-facing valley sides were used
for terraced agriculture.
The animal world is essentially the same as that of Central Europe - hedgehogs, moles, squirrels and numerous species of birds, foxes, badgers, pine martens, wild boars and rabbits are at home here and are hunted. A relative of the mole, the Pyrenean desman, can be found on the banks of streams, where it forages in the clear water. In the higher mountains there are chamois, mouflon, marmots and capercaillie, but golden eagles, griffon, Egyptian and bearded vultures also have their habitat here.
The Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror was included in the UNESCO World
Heritage list in 2004 as a cultural landscape. According to UNESCO, it
gives an impression of how people have used the scarce resources of the
High Pyrenees over the past millennia to create a sustainable living
environment that is in harmony with the mountainous landscape. The
protected area covers an area of 4247 hectares in the municipalities of
Encamp, Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra la Vella and Sant Julià de Lòria.
There are two natural parks in Andorra. The Parc Natural de la Vall de Sorteny has an area of 1080 hectares and is located in the municipality of Ordino. The Parc Natural Comunal de les Valls del Comapedrosa, belonging to the municipality of La Massana, includes the Comapedrosa mountain range and has an area of 1542 hectares.
The official language of Andorra is the mother tongue of the native
Andorrans, Catalan. According to a 2005 survey by the Andorran Center
for Social Research (Centre de Recerca Sociològica), 38.8% of Andorra's
residents speak Catalan, 35.4% Spanish, 15.0% Portuguese and 5.4% French
as their mother tongue. When asked which language they use most often to
communicate, 58.3% of respondents said Catalan, 37.3% Spanish, 3.5%
Portuguese and 2.2% French. Multiple answers were possible for the last
question. 902 people were interviewed.
Although Catalan is officially the official language of Andorra, it is under pressure from the Spanish and French school systems, immigration from Spain and France and the presence of foreign media in Andorra. The founding of an official language council, the Servei de Política Lingüística, and the strengthening of Catalan in Andorran schools and in adult education are intended to counteract the displacement. Catalan classes are now also offered in the Spanish and French school systems in Andorra.
Article 11 of the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, there
is no official religion or state church. Point 3 of the article
recognizes the traditional role of the Roman Catholic Church, its right
to public celebrations, and the legal status of its institutions and
their internal rules. The Catholic Church in Andorra is part of the
Diocese of Urgell. The Bishop, who is also Coprince of Andorra, is based
in the town of La Seu d'Urgell, in north-western Catalonia.
The majority of Andorrans (approx. 90 percent) belong to the Roman Catholic Church, in addition one percent of the population are Jehovah's Witnesses, there is also a Jewish and a few Protestant communities.