10 Things You Didn't Know About Andorra

Andorra de la Vella | © Cserlajos/Wikimedia Commons
Andorra de la Vella | © Cserlajos/Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Esme Fox
23 August 2017

Andorra is a unique country, which lies squashed in between the two giants France and Spain, right in the middle of the Pyrenees. Despite its size, there are many fascinating facets to this pint-sized country. Here are 10 of the most interesting facts.

1. The country of Andorra can fit into the City of London more than three times

The whole country of Andorra is only 467.6 kilometres squared (46,760 hectares). In comparison, just the city of London is 1,572 kilometres squared (157,200 hectares), meaning that the whole of Andorra could fit inside the city of London just over three times. Andorra is in fact the 17th-smallest country in the world.

Size of Andorra | ©Mutxamel / Wikimedia Commons

2. It’s the only country in the world that has Catalan as its only official language

Catalan is also an official language in Catalonia, but Andorra is the only place in the world where it is the only official language of the whole country. Most people speak French and Spanish as well as Catalan, though.

Catalan is the official language of Andorra | ©Keepscases / Wikimedia Commons

3. It’s home to miles and miles of ski slopes

Skiing and winter sports attract millions of tourists to Andorra every year. One of the main reasons is that it offers excellent conditions, some excellent ski resorts and over 290 kilometres (18o miles) of pisted slopes.

Vallnord Ski Area | © Arnaucc / Wikimedia Commons

4. 9% of Andorra has UNESCO World Heritage status

Andorra’s largest natural park, the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, and takes up 9% of the country. It is made up of glaciers, wooded valleys, wide green pastures and rocky mountains.

The mountains of Andorra | Pixabay

5. Andorra de la Vella is the highest capital in Europe

The capital of Andorra is Andorra de la Vella, which is the highest capital city in Europe at around 1,023 metres (3,356 feet) above sea level.

Andorra de la Vella | © Cserlajos/Wikimedia Commons

6. Only a third of people that live in Andorra are Andorran

Two-thirds of the population of Andorra do not actually have Andorran nationality; most are Spanish, French or Portuguese. One of the largest groups is the Spanish, who make up around 43% of the population.

Andorran passport | ©Boigandorra / Wikimedia Commons

7. Andorra is not part of the EU or the Euro zone

Andorra is not part of the European Union or the Euro zone, even though it uses the Euro. In fact, Andorra has never had its own currency. Before the Euro was introduced, it used the Spanish peseta or the French franc.

Euro Notes | © Images Money/Flickr

8. Andorra’s main economic activity used to be producing tobacco

Today, Andorra earns most of its money from tourism, particularly in the winter sports industry, but it was not always like this. Before ski resorts became popular, it was tobacco that drove the country’s economy. You can visit the Tobacco Museum in Sant Julià de Lòria to learn more.

Museu del Tabac, Andorra | ©Kippelboy / Wikimedia Commons

9. Andorra has no airport

Andorra is one of the few countries in the world with no airport. It can be reached only by land, via France or Spain. Two of the main international airports nearby are Toulouse in France and Barcelona in Spain.

Andorran border crossing | ©luxpim / Flickr

10. People of Andorra have one of the world’s highest life expectancies

The people of Andorra live to a very old age. For males the life expectancy is around 80, while for females it is around 84.

old couple in the park | ©Marina Shemesh / PublicDomainPictures.net

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