Andorra Country Profile: The Pleasant Co-Principality of the Pyrenees

Updated: Jun 13

Andorra is a microstate located in the Pyrenees between its neighbours France and Spain. It is just 468 km² in size and has a population of 77,000. The country is the world's only parliamentary co-principality consisting of the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia. Andorra was officially founded in 1278 but existed as early as 803 AD when King Charlemagne of the Franks, initially created it as a buffer state to keep Muslim Moors out of Francia.


The country is a popular skiing destination due to its access to the Pyrenees mountain range, in which it lies, as well as its duty free shopping. While there is no airport in Andorra, it is accessible by flying to nearby Barcelona and Toulouse with a couple of hours drive required afterwards.


Andorra Pyrenees

Key Information


  • Capital City: Andorra la Vella

  • Language(s) Spoken: Catalan

  • Currency: Euro

  • Head of State: President of France: Emmanuel Macron; Bishop of Urgell, Spain: Joan Enric Vives Sicília

  • Head of Government: Xavier Espot Zamora


Andorran Landmarks you cannot miss


1. The Nobility of Time by Salvador Dalí


Created by Salvador Dalí (arguably the greatest Surrealist artist of all time), the Nobility of Time is a bronze sculpture located in the centre of Andorra la Vella on the La Valira river. It was unveiled in 1984 and has since been one of the country’s most popular landmarks. The outlandish sculpture is believed to represent the value of time and how it can gently fall away, when you’re lost in thoughts and not living in the present. The Dali Universe states that the art symbolises time as a memory of the past, preserved by its roots.



2. Grandvalira


The largest ski resort in the Pyrenees mountain range is Grandvalira, which is one of the main reasons tourists choose Andorra as their skiing destination. What’s great about skiing in Andorra, is that there are plenty of high quality English-speaking skiing schools. It is also a great location to take the family, as the resorts produce world-leading schools to teach children the art of skiing. Grandvalira itself has seen a huge growth over the last few decades and is now one of the top 30 biggest resorts in the world.



3. Casa de la Vall


Casa de la Vall, which translates to house of the valley in Spanish, is a 16th century historical building and the headquarters of the General Council of Andorra. Between 1701 and 2011 it was used as Andorra’s primary location for the government. It is absolutely worth a visit as it holds such significant historical and political importance for the country.


Casa De La Vall Andorra La Vella Andorra

Andorra Country Timeline


803 AD- Charlemagne recovers what is now present-day Andorra from the Muslim Moors, this buffer state helps to ensure they don’t travel any further into his Frank Kingdom. Charlemagne or Charles the Great, as he was also known, granted charter to its residents.


814 AD- Death of King Charlemagne. Upon his death, his son Louis the Pious became King of the Franks until 840. Charlemagne’s grandson Charles II later, in 843, grants rule of Andorra to the Count of Urgell in Catalonia.


King Charlemagne Statue

1133- Count of Urgell, who had taken over Andorra after Charlemagne’s death ceded the country to Bishop of Urgell.


1278- The country first adopts a co-principality following the first Paréage of Andorra. The charter was signed on the 8th September in the Catalan city of Lleida and declared that the country would become a joint-sovereignty by both the Bishop of Urgel, Pere d'Urtx and the Count of Foix, Roger-Bernard III.


1288- To correct some of the clauses that had initially been drawn up in the first Paréage, a second one was created 10 years later on the 6th November 1288. Both of these paréages created, which up until 1993, was the first basic law of Andorra.


1589- Rule of Andorra is passed from French princes to the King of France.


1793- The people of Andorra are left without protection from the French government as the monarchy is overthrown by Napoleon during the French Revolution. In 1806, Napoleon then re-establishes control over Andorra.

Napoleon Bonaparte Statue

1870- The President of France assumes control over Andorra alongside the Bishop of Urgell. The co-principality as we know it, begins from this day onwards.


1993- The first constitution is adopted after an election which lessens the power of the princes and creates a parliamentary co-principality . Òscar Ribas Reig becomes the first president of Andorra. In the same year it officially becomes the 184th member of the United Nations.


2011- Andorra adopts the Euro after signing an agreement on 30 June. The new currency comes into effect on 1 April 2012.