Andorra is a small independent European coprincipality situated among the southern peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains and bounded by France to the north and east and by Spain to the south and west. It is one of the smallest states in Europe. The capital is Andorra la Vella.
The mainstay of the highly-prosperous economy is tourism, accounting for about 80% of GDP. An estimated 10 million people visit each year, drawn by winter sports, a warm summer climate and duty-free goods. The country’s banking sector enjoys partial tax-haven status. It is not a member of the EU, but enjoys a special relationship with it and uses the euro.
The Valira River
The country consists of a cluster of mountain valleys whose streams unite to form the Valira River. Two of these streams, the Madriu and the Perafita, flow into the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley, which occupies about one-tenth of the land area and is characterised by glacial landscapes, steep valleys, and open pastures. The valley was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
For more than 700 years Andorra was ruled jointly by the leader of France and the Spanish Bishop of Urgell. The first Andorran Constitution was passed in 1993, establishing parliamentary government. It then joined the United Nations and Council of Europe. The co-princes remain the heads of state, but the roles are honorary.
Andorra has traditionally had a strong affinity with the region of Catalonia in northern Spain and it’s official language is Catalan (Spanish and French are also spoken); its institutions are based in Catalonian law, and a large proportion of the Spanish immigrants (or their descendants) are Catalan. Almost nine-tenths of the population is classified as urban, and half of residents are foreign nationals, mainly from Spain, France and Portugal.