Principality of Andorra
LOCATION AND SIZE.
Andorra, a tiny landlocked principality in southwestern Europe, is situated in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains, bordered on the north and east by France and on the south and west by Spain. It comprises a region of 7 narrow valleys and the adjacent peaks reaching heights of more than 2,700 meters (about 8,860 feet) above sea level. Also named the Valleys of Andorra, the country has an area of only 468 square kilometers (181 square miles), about 2.5 times the size of Washington, D.C., or about half the size of New York City. The capital is Andorra la Vella (Andorra of the Valley), with a population of 21,985 in 1996.
The population of Andorra was estimated at 66,824 in July 2000, up from 64,716 in 1998. Although mountainous, the country is densely populated, with an overall density of 138 persons per square kilometer (358 per square mile). The population, however, is unevenly distributed, and is concentrated in the 7 urbanized valleys that form the country's parishes (political districts): Andorra la Vella, Canillo, Encamp, La Massana, Escaldes-Engordany, Ordino, and Sant Julia de Loria. Andorra has a slow population growth rate of 1.22 percent, fueled by a birth rate of 10.58 births per 1,000 population, a death rate of 5.27 deaths per 1,000 population, and a high net immigration rate of 6.9 migrants per 1,000 population
Native Andorrans, curiously enough, represent a minority (only about 33 percent of the population) in their own country; they are Catalan in their culture and language. The official language of the principality is also Catalan, a romance language, spoken also by more than 6 million people in the regions of French and Spanish Catalonia (in southwestern France and northeastern and eastern Spain and the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean). More people of Andorran descent live outside the country (particularly in France) than in their home country, because historically, as in many similar societies with very limited land supply, land ownership has been strictly passed on to the oldest heirs while the rest often have had to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Spanish, French, and Portuguese immigrants (both working people and entrepreneurs) make up the majority of the population of the principality, and the Spanish, French, and Portuguese languages are widely spoken. Spaniards (Catalan-speaking or not) form the largest single ethnic group in the country with 43 percent; Portuguese constitute 11 percent and French 7 percent. Roman Catholicism is not only the predominant religion but also the religion of the state, unlike most European countries that strictly separate the church from the state. For example, only Roman Catholics are permitted to marry in the country, and all public records pertaining to issues such as birth, death, and family status are still kept by the church. Pilgrimages to the shrine of the Andorran patron saint, the Lady of Meritxell, are very popular among believers. The education law requires school attendance for children up to age 16 and a system of French, Spanish, and Andorran lay (secular) schools provides education up to the secondary level. Schools are built and maintained by the Andorran government but salaries for teachers are paid for the most part by France or Spain. About half of the Andorran children attend the French primary schools, and the rest attend Spanish or Andorran ones, which suggests that the role of the French language in the country's culture, communication, and business life will grow in the future.
Andorra has no territories or colonies.
Andorra la Vella.
No local currency; French and Spanish currencies are both used in the country. Both Spain and France, along with 9 other members of the European Union (EU), are in the process of changing over from their national currencies to the single currency of the EU, the euro, for all transactions. This transition will be completed with the introduction of euro coins and bills in January 2002.
Tobacco products, furniture.
Consumer goods, food, electricity.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
US$1.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 1996 est.).
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$58 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.). Imports: US$1.077 billion (c.i.f., 1998 est.).