TOP-30 interesting facts about Andorra and Andorrans
Andorra is a tiny Western European country, greatly influenced by its neighbours, Spain and France. But at the same time it is a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. In this article, we’ve compiled 30 fun facts about the country and its people to help you create a first impression and plan your holiday in Andorra in a fun way.
The 30 most interesting facts about Andorran people and Andorra
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. The first people appeared in the territory of modern Andorra 25 thousand years ago. The numerous sites of ancient sites and petroglyphs remind us of them.
2. Independence of the principality was promised by Charlemagne in 805, when the local population helped the Frankish army to reach the rear of the Arabs.
3. The year 1278 is said to be the date of Andorra’s founding, when power was shared between the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix. Now, the second co-Prince of Andorra is considered to be the President of France.
4. The Principality became a kingdom for a few days in 1934. The country’s first and last monarch was the Russian emigrant Boris Skosyrev. His reign was ended by his arrest, following a conflict with the Bishop of Urgell.
5. The power of the Co-Princes in Andorra is now purely nominal. Legislative power is exercised by the Council of State of the Valleys and executive power by the government headed by the Prime Minister.
6. Andorra la Vella is considered to be the highest altitude capital in Europe, being 1,100 metres above sea level.
7. Andorra has no armed forces of its own; the Spanish and French police provide law and order here. But every Andorran is bound by law to serve in the army and has to go to the conscription office in case of natural or man-made disasters.
8. Almost 30% of the country is covered by the National Park, which is protected by UNESCO.
9. The Principality is the only country in the world to have Catalan as its official language. French and Spanish are also recognized as official languages.
10. More than 58% of the population are immigrants and their descendants. In addition to the Spanish and French, there is a large English diaspora. Emigrants to Andorra are attracted by the high standard of living, lack of crime, and reliable banks. By the way, each Andorran bank has employees who speak Russian.
11. The Virgin of Meritxell is considered the patron saint of the country. Her images are installed in all the churches of the Principality. September 8th is a bank holiday.
12. 10 million tourists visit the country every year, which is more than 100 times the population of the country itself.
13. Andorra is a mountainous country. Its highest point is Mount Coma Pedrosa (2,946 metres) and its lowest is in the Riu-Runner valley (840 meters).
14. In the central square of Andorra la Vella is the famous sculpture by Salvador Dali, The Nobility of Time. This five-metre-high composition was donated to the Principality by Enrico Sabater, the artist’s secretary, and was installed in 2010.
15. Not far from the capital, in the village of Santa Coloma, there is the oldest church in the country. It dates back to the twelfth century. The height of the belfry made of stones is 18 metres.
16. In the town of Escaldes-Engordany there is a museum of Russian matryoshka. The museum has several hundred exhibits, and visitors are shown an informative film about the history and manufacturing process of this souvenir.
17. The town is also home to Europe’s largest thermal spa, Caldea, which opened in 1994. Its 80-metre-high mirrored spire is the tallest building in the Principality and reflects the surrounding mountainous landscape.
18. Another iconic landmark is the Joubert Gardens, situated on a mountainside above a multi-metre abyss. There are artificial waterfalls, perfectly shaped hedges and bushes, as well as many unique and unusual sculptures that are very popular with selfies.
19. The Rock del Cuère observation deck is a constant attraction. It offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, with the Spanish sculptor Miguel González’s The Thinker perched above the void.
20. There are more than 70 picturesque lakes in the mountains of Andorra, but Lake Juclar, occupying an area of 21 hectares, is considered the largest. This deep and very blue lake is located 500 metres uphill from the village of Inkles.
The character and customs of the Andorrans
21. Nature preservation and ecology have a cult status in the country. Here there are no polluting industries, and every Andorran considers it a sin to cut down a tree without absolute necessity.
22. Andorrans can choose their children’s preferred school system: Spanish, French or the Andorran national system. Primary education is free and compulsory, and the literacy rate reaches 100%.
23. There are no public toilets in the Principality’s towns, all located in shopping centres or other social and tourist facilities.
24. Andorrans are for the most part zealous Catholics. For this reason, striptease, prostitution and pornography are forbidden in the country, and sexual minorities do not advertise their activities. The activity of lawyers is also forbidden in the Principality.
25. One of the main traditions of the small state is the annual troubadours’ contest. It is a colourful costumed event with knights and armour, where ancient songs are recited and sung. Every self-respecting Andorran man is well-versed in medieval Provençal poetry, which made the troubadours famous.
26. The Principality has a great reverence for debt. Town criers are still posted in the streets and call for debt repayment on time. Defaulters face heavy fines and daily interest charges.
27. The Andorrans love noisy celebrations and are never without dancing. One of the most popular dances in the country is the Contrapas, a merry round dance to which all the locals and many tourists join in.
28. The cuisine of Andorra has absorbed the traditions of neighbouring countries, but has remained distinctive and unique. Trinchat, mashed potato and cabbage in meat broth with boiled brisket, is considered the national dish of the Principality. Fish dishes are also popular, such as baked freshwater trout stuffed with berries and mushrooms.
29. The Pyrenean chamois, an alpine ibex, is considered the national symbol of the Principality. In recent years, it has become increasingly common in the foothill forests.
30. The country is also famous for its countless flocks of sheep. Andorra does not have its own breed of these animals, so the flocks consist almost exclusively of the Spanish Ojinegra de Teruel breed.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Andorran people and Andorra, please share them in the comments. It is a country full of experiences, culture and traditions and many people would enjoy learning more. We would be very grateful!