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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.