Andorra, parliamentary principality, southwestern Europe, situated in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains, bordered on the north and east by France, and on the south and west by Spain. Also called Valleys of Andorra, the country has an area of 468 sq km (181 sq mi) and a population (2001 estimate) of 67,627. The overall population density is 145 persons per sq km (374 per sq mi). The capital is Andorra la Vella (population, 1998 estimate, 21,513).
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Andorra is a region of narrow valleys and mountain peaks that reach heights of more than 2,700 m (8,860 ft). The principal stream is the Valira River. The land has iron and lead deposits and marble quarries; forests of pine and birch are found on the mountains, and low-lying areas have pastureland where sheep are grazed. Andorra has no railroad or airport but possesses an excellent road system.
Deforestation is an issue in Andorra, and overgrazing has caused soil erosion in the mountain meadows.
The native-born inhabitants of Andorra (only about one-fourth of the entire population) are Catalan in ancestry and language; Spanish and French immigrants make up the majority of the remainder. The main religion is Roman Catholicism.
Andorra’s economy was formerly based on pastoral farming and the processing of tobacco and timber. Tourism has boomed since the 1950s and now dominates the principality’s economic life. Tourists are drawn by the winter ski facilities, the cool summer climate, and the availability of duty-free goods. The Andorran government collects revenue through a small number of taxes and the sale of postage stamps. Immigration and investment have been encouraged by low tax rates.
For 715 years Andorra was ruled jointly by the leader of France and Spain’s Bishop of Urgel, who were acknowledged as coprinces. In March 1993 Andorran voters approved their first constitution, which transferred power to the “parliamentary coprincipality” of Andorra. The constitution defined the fundamental rights and obligations of Andorran citizens and delineated the separate functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The coprinces remained Andorra’s heads of state but were given very little power. The Andorran legislature is the General Council, which has 28 members, 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 and formally appointed by the coprinces. The president appoints the other members of the Executive Council.
Andorra is traditionally held to have been declared a free state by Charlemagne in the 9th century ad. In 1278 it came under the joint control of the Catalan bishop of Urgel and of the count of Foix of France; through the latter, French rights passed successively to the kings and chiefs of state of France. Andorra pays a nominal biennial tribute to France and to the bishop of Urgel. In 1970 women received the right to vote. Andorra was admitted to the United Nations in 1993.