Andorra is a small country but an extremely interesting one. This tiny country has one of the most unique histories and cultures in Europe, and there’s a surprising amount of interesting tidbits that you’d never assume from a first glance. Let’s dive into a new installment of Facts You Might Not Have Known: Andorra facts edition to learn a few things you should know if you’re booking a trip there, or if you just want to more deeply explore the country’s culture and history.
1. Andorra is a country.
OK, you probably know this already, but a lot of people out there have no clue that Andorra is actually a country. One woman I spoke with on my trip to Andorra had visited the U.S., and people didn’t believe she could be from a country called Andorra. Yes, it does exist and it’s been around in some form for almost 1,000 years. It has a seat in the United Nations, an Olympic team, and diplomatic relations with other countries. Get the memo out: Andorra is a real country.
2. Andorra is small.
It’s the 16th smallest country in the world by land, and the 11th smallest by population. It is only about a 40km drive from one side of the country to the other. The total population of Andorra is about 85,000, which includes citizens and residents. What’s even more shocking is that despite its small size, the vast majority of the buildings are located at the bottom of the valleys because so much of the land is mountainous.
3. Andorra produces a lot of tobacco.
One fact that surprised me here is how much tobacco Andorra produces. It takes up a lot of what little farming space exists there. There used to be a cigarette factory in Andorra, and because of its status as a tax haven, you can purchase cigarettes there much cheaper than you can in Spain or France. Cigarette smuggling has been a long problem (tradition) in Andorra—people would head to the mountaintops to take smokes into Spain or France. Andorra is also one of the few places in Europe where you can still smoke indoors in public places.
4. Andorra is the world’s only co-principality.
A principality is a place ruled by a prince. Monaco is an example of a principality. Andorra, however, is a co-principality. They have two princes who jointly share the title of prince. Surprisingly, neither of the two princes are from Andorra. One prince is the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. The other co-prince is the Bishop of Urgell, who is currently Joan Enric Vives Sicília. The position is a constitutional one similar to the British Monarchy and holds no real power. Except for limited things, the two princes must exercise their authority together, not separately. This is the only country where one of their heads of state (the President of France) is democratically elected by another country. The other prince, the bishop, is appointed by the head of state of another country (the Pope).
5. Andorra is the only country in the world with Catalan as its official language.
Catalan is spoken in regions of Spain, bits of France, and an even smaller chunk of Sardinia. However, Andorra is the only country using Catalan as the official language. I’m sure there are many people in Catalonia, however, who would like there to be at least one more country with that designation. :)
6. Andorra has never been in a war in almost 1,000 years
Given its non-strategic location in the Pyrenees Mountains and lack of natural resources, Andorra has been without conflict almost since Charlemagne came through to fight the Moors. Technically, Andorra did declare war on Germany in WWI, but it never sent anyone into the conflict. Given Andorra’s lack of participation in WWI, they were forgotten about in the Treaty of Versailles and didn’t officially declare peace with Germany until 1957!
7. Andorra has no national bank and has never had its own currency.
Andorra currently uses the Euro as its currency. Before that, it primarily used the Spanish Peseta and sometimes the French Franc. There is no national bank in Andorra, so it has to use private banks if the country wants to incur debt.
8. Andorra is not part of the EU, EFTA, or the Eurozone.
Andorra is not a member of most of the major European associations. Even though it uses the Euro, the country is not technically part of the Eurozone. It has a special relationship with the EU in which it follows the trade rules for industry, but not for agriculture. It’s also not a party to the Schengen Treaty, however, you can only access Andorra via Spain and France, which are party to the treaty. And since Andorra doesn’t have an airport, it’s de facto subject to the agreement.
9. Andorra la Vella is the highest capital city in Europe.
At an elevation of 1,023 meters (3356 feet), there is no higher elevation capital in all of Europe. In fact, it’s the 10th highest city of any kind in Europe, and boasts a population over 10,000.
10. The flag of Andorra is strikingly similar to the flags of Chad, Romania, and Moldova.
All four of the flags have the same color combination. They have three vertical strips of blue, yellow, and red. The flags of Andorra and Moldova have their national crest on the flag, which is really the only way you can tell the flags apart if you see them flying.
11. Andorra has the 8th highest life expectancy in the world.
With a life expectancy of 82.9 years, Andorra has the 8th highest life expectancy in the world. With the exception of Japan, every other country with a higher life expectancy is also a small country or a small territory: Monaco, Singapore, Macau, San Marino, Iceland, and Hong Kong.
12. Andorra has the most tourists per capita in the world.
With over 10,000,000 visitors per year and a population of only 77,000, Andorra has the most visitors in the world per capita. The vast majority of the visitors to Andorra are Spanish and French citizens who go there to shop and purchase fuel at cheaper prices.
13. Andorra was late in joining the United Nations.
Even though the United Nations was founded soon after the end of WWII, Andorra didn’t join the UN until 1993. Andorra waited 48 years to join the UN. In particular, they waited until the end of the Cold War so as to not violate their neutrality. They also joined the Council of Europe in 1993, the same year they adopted a new constitution and formally became a parliamentary democracy.
14. France occupied Andorra in the 1930’s.
In order to prevent the Spanish Civil War from spreading into Andorra, France sent a force to occupy the country in 1936. That force remained in place until 1940, when the Vichy government came to power in France.
15. Andorra was neutral in WWII.
Andorra took no sides in WWII. After the German invasion of France, the Germans had an outpost on the French side of the Andorran border but never had troops inside the country. Andorra was often used for smuggling during the war, and French partisan forces often took downed allied pilots there to safety.
16. Andorra has never won an Olympic medal.
Despite having been represented at every Olympic games since 1976, Andorra has never won an Olympic medal. Despite being a major area for downhill skiing, they have never won a medal, even though Liechtenstein, an even smaller country, has won 10 in Alpine skiing.
17. A Russian adventurer once claimed ownership of Andorra.
On July 6, 1934, Boris Skossyreff claimed to be the sovereign of Andorra and got the support of Andorra’s General Council. On July 8th, he proclaimed himself Boris I, King of Andorra and declared war on the Bishop of Urgell, one of the co-princes of Andorra. On July 20th, he was arrested by the Bishop of Urgell and expelled from Spain. A fitting end to that saga, and to our list of facts about Andorra!
Recommended Resources and Readings:
Best Books About Andorra:
- Andorra: History, Art, Culture and Tourism: From the country’s origins to its place in the modern European political landscape, this book includes an overview of just about anything you might need to know.
- Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. The micro-countries in Europe offer a fascinating history and this book covers everything could want to know about Andorra and a few other small European states.
- Pyrenees and Andorra (National Geographic Adventure Map). This detailed National Geographic Adventure map is a handy travel companion for exploring Andorra.
- Andorra la Vella: Travel Photography. Take a visual tour of the main city of Andorra with this guide.
- Andorra Revealed. Looking for more facts and stories? This covers it, while also acting as a practical guide to things you should know when heading to Andorra.
Book Your Trip to Andorra
Where to Stay in Andorra
We’re partial to Andorra Park Hotel on a mid-range budget, the Secret Spot Hostel for a beautiful splurge, and Acta Arthotel offers a fantastic ratio of amenities-to-price for those on a budget.
Find Interesting Things to Do
Andorra is tiny, so your best bet is to rent a car and drive in from nearby countries and cities (it’s popular as a day trip from Barcelona). Or join one of the many a fantastic tours in the region of everything from trekking and gastronomy to heliskiing. Viator, a TripAdvisor property, offers tours all over the world. I also love GetYourGuide, a scrappy booking engine with great prices and a wide selection of tours on every corner of the earth.
Andorra Travel Guide
Our free guide covers everything you should know about booking travel to Andorra, what you should do once you’re there, as well as where to stay and more. And if you’re after a visual tour of the country, check out our Andorra Photo Essay.
Protect Yourself With Travel Insurance
Although completely safe, Andorra is situated a bit away from major hospitals in the region, and if you need medical care you’ll be glad for travel insurance. Travel insurance is the single best way to protect yourself and your trip from unforeseen complications, illness, theft, and more. World Nomads is the best for international travelers, adventurous trips, and budget travelers. International Medical Group (IMG) offers affordable prices for families and seniors traveling the world. The EE team has used both for more than a decade and highly recommends choosing the one that best fits your next trip.
Pack the Necessities
I carry a lot of travel gear, but I never leave without my travel adapters. This Glamfield one is my favorite: It features three USB chargers, USB-C, and adapts to most plugs anywhere in the world! If you’re looking for a lower profile adapter, however, you can’t go wrong with this one (I carry both!).
44 thoughts on “17 Interesting Facts About Andorra”
I love these quirky random facts about Andorra – especially the Treaty of Versailles – oops!
It’s been told to me that the tobacco grown here is mostly burnt locally or exported to the Canary Islands for low grade-cigarettes. Seems wasteful, but I’m sure it makes sense to someone!
Loved it there. Would I go back? Probably not…It’s a big world!
Thanks for the information. Do you have links to photos of your country
I never knew Andorra is a country,now that I know I want to know their culture,way of life and what They love to do,the best way of conversation and greeting and some commonly used terms
Quite a long time i’ve heard about Andorra but all along my thinking was that it is a country in Carribea. so having visited France, spain and italy in the past, how do i get there without touching down in any other part of europe? Do they have embassies in any Africa country? Would i be the first black african to visit there? Thanks!
We are doing school project and we need some more info if you know more please contact
Andorra has no post offices of its own. These are run by the French Post Office (La Poste) and Spanish Post office (Correos espanyol) independently. The Capital Andorra La Vella, (Andorra the City – not Andorra the Old as is often misquoted) has a Spanish and French Post Office which are only about 200 metres apart.
Stumbled upon this researching for my first ever trip to Andorra next weekend. What a fascinating little country eh?
Another fact to add to the list is that the country is also the base for the biggest sex webcam site (Imlive) to avoid taxes and prosecutions
ENJOYED YOUR 10 THINGS BUT YOU MISSED OUT THAT THEY HAVE NO POST OFFICES OF THEIR OWN EITHER. Postal requirements are looked after by the Spanish and French Postal Administrations. Andorra La Vella has both a French and a Spanish Post Office. The Spanish Post Office opened in Andorra on 1st January 1928 and French Post offices opened on the 16th June 1931. Most large towns have both post offices but not all. Both countries use the Catalan term of Principat D’ Andorra and the French Andorra Stamps normally have La Poste inscribed on the Stamp. Spanish Andorra stamps currently have Correus Espanyol.
In Davinci Code, Brown describes Andorra as as a nasty, dreary place and home of the villain. Obviously, he has never been there.Actually it is a charming place with lots of intermediate skiing but just a bit icy at times and five hours by coach from Toulouse.
I am an EU citizen. Can I just go live there without a Visa?
lovely country. Andorra remains one of the best places I have been to on earth. A trial will convince you.. Quite hilly. cute people. if I wasn’t married yet I would have settled there as the first black person.
My 4 year old was 2 when we went there. His memories remains very fresh
Actually we did have our own currency a long ago. The were called “diners” but they didn’t last long. And before the euro we accepted al!most any currency like dollars, pesetas, francs…
I understand that there is a good size Mexican community.
all I want to know is the history of Andorra’s language
Our language’s history, is that we speak catalan, the same as Catalonia (in Spain).
Seen the abbreviation on a picture. Didn’t know what it stood for. Typed in the town name on google earth. Couldn’t tell if it was a country or not so went to the web and found your site. Glad you are there. Sounds like it’s a nice country. The picture I was looking at was beautiful.
Truly a hidden gem. Spent 2 weeks there teaching skiing, had never heard of it prior & it was an exceptional experience. Everyone’s so laid back, kind & approachable
Thank you for this very interesting information, looked it up as my brother has just gone there skiing and I didn’t know much about it. This is very informative would love to visit one day. Thank you.
They produce of a lot of tobacco? Really?
I hear the population of Andorra is growing due to migration – because they have very high life standards, high salaries.
Not now :( now, the one who migrates are the andorrans :s
I’ll be around that area in Novenber, do I need a Visa to get into the Country?
I wish i can visit you natural Andorra. A Sierra Leonean by the above name. My only problem is that i did not see English language as one of their official laguage.
I’m so interesting about andorra… A country that I never know before.
I saw this beautiful country on a recent International House Hunters episode. Didn’t even know about this country so happy to see your website. We are going to France to visit the Bordeaux region and wanted to find out the best route to take to get here. We would have a rental car. Trying to squeeze in a visit. Thank you.
this is crazy. who’d have thought a civilization could endure almost a thousand years of peace? sadly, it seems as though it’s virtually impossible. good for them. i’d very much like to go to andorra, especially since my birthplace is spain. i’d like to go back to spain and take a trip to andorra while there.
Because we are the 8th smalles country in Europa (16th in the world i think), and we have no army at all. We’re a very peacefull people too :)
very interesting info. thanks, Gary.
I visited Andorra in the fall of 2008 when I was studying in southern Spain. I took a long weekend trip to Barcelona and – on a whim – decided to take a bus to Andorra for a day. Hadn’t even heard of the country before then, but it was one of the best things I did! Spent the day in a beautiful park in Andorra la Vella.
Amazing that a place this old has no national bank or currency of its own… I guess it doesn’t pay to reinvent the wheel.
Great post Gary. We loved this little country when we were there last year. Another little known fact is that there is no income tax in Andorra. It is a European tax haven. Who knew??
Interesting facts about a little know country. So what did you do in Andorra?
I went hiking in the World Heritage zone (which is really beautiful) and visited many of the villages scattered around the country.
Thanks for the facts. I knew Andorra existed as a country and where it is located geographically, but I knew absolutely nothing else about it.
We are heading there in a few months, thanks sharing Gary.
Hoping to find my way through her for the first time during the train challenge — would be fun to knock it out doing that.
There are no trains that go through Andorra, so you will have a problem doing that :) The closest train is about 10k from the border in France.
Very well informed, as always! The Andorra tourism eslogan is “The country of the pyrenees” and has some really nice sky stations
Ski station, sorry! heheh
Very cool fact. I knew about the first two, but I didn’t know about the others.
That would be the first eight things I have learned about Andorra… Well, I guess if I had to wager a guess, I would have guessed small!
Very odd place but in a nice way. I’ve never been to Andorra and loved to learn more about it. Thanks.
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