Andorra is small independent country situated in the Pyrenees Mountains (486 km²) and bounded by France, to the north and east, and by Spain, to the south and west. The capital and largest town is Andorra la Vella.
The citizens of Andorra account for about 1/4 of the entire population. French and Spanish immigrants, allowed residence in Andorra under a strict quota system, make up the majority of the remaining population. Most native Andorrans trace their ancestry to Catalonia.
Andorra’s official language is Catalan, which is spoken by about 30% of the population as a first language. Spanish is spoken by more than half the population and a small percentage of residents speak French as a mother tongue.
Roman Catholicism, the religion of 89% of Andorrans, exerts a great influence on social and cultural life.
Most of the people of Andorra live in seven small towns, including the capital. Other towns include Escaldes-Engordany, Encamp, Saint Julià de Lòria, and La Massana.
For 715 years Andorra was ruled jointly by Spanish and French co-princes, respectively the Bishop of Urgel and, in modern times, the president of France. Under this arrangement, which granted Andorra a limited form of autonomy, responsibility for domestic affairs was delegated to an elected general counsel (Consell General de las Valls). Judicial matters, foreign affairs, and defense remained under the control of the co-princes.
In March 1993 Andorrans voted in a referendum establishing Andorra as an independent democracy. Under the constitution approved by the referendum, Andorra’s first-ever executive, judicial, and legislative bodies were set up. The Andorran legislature is the General Council. The council’s 28 members are popularly elected to four-year terms. The executive organ of government is the Executive Council, which is headed by a president who is elected by the General Council. The president appoints the other members of the Executive Council.
Andorra’s constitution permits it to pursue its own foreign relations and to join international organizations of its own choosing. In 1993 Andorra was admitted to the United Nations. The co-princes formally remain Andorra’s heads of state but retain little real authority; they hold veto power only over legislation affecting Andorra’s borders or security. France and Spain share responsibility for Andorra’s defense.
More: Map of Andorra ►
Vall Incles, in Andorra.
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