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Definition: Andorra from Philip's Encyclopedia

Small, independent state situated high in the E Pyrenees between France and Spain. Andorra consists mainly of six valleys that drain to the River Valira. These deep glaciated valleys lie at altitudes of 1000-2900m (3300-9500ft). In the N, a lofty watershed forms the frontier with France, and to the S the land falls away to the Segre Valley in Spain. It is a rare surviving example of a medieval principality. In 1993 a new democratic constitution was adopted. The main sources of income include livestock rearing and agriculture, especially tobacco; the sale of water and hydroelectricity to Catalonia; tourism, particularly skiing; and the sale of duty-free goods. Area: 468sq km (181sq mi). Pop. (1999) 69,000.


Summary Article: Andorra
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Landlocked country in the east Pyrenees, bounded north by France and south by Spain.

Government Under the 1993 constitution, Andorra is an independent, democratic, multiparty ‘parliamentary’ co-principality, with full sovereignty in the hands of the people, but with Spanish and French co-princes (the bishop of Urgel in Spain and the president of France respectively) as joint heads of state with limited, constitutionally defined, powers. The co-princes are represented by permanent delegates, the vicar general of the Urgel diocese, and the prefect of the French département of Pyrénées–Orientales. There is a 28-member, single-chamber assembly, the General Council of the Valleys, to which 14 members are elected, using proportional representation, on a national list and 14 in seven two-member constituencies (parishes) for four-year terms. There is an Executive Council headed by a president (Cap de Govern), who is prime minister on the basis of support in the assembly. Andorra has no army and depends on France and Spain for its defence.

History According tradition, in the late 8th century, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, gave a charter to the people of Andorra as a reward for fighting against the Moors. Overlordship of the mountainous territory later passed to the Roman Catholic bishop of Urgel, in northern Spain (Catalonia). But a territorial dispute arose with its northern neighbour, France, and this was resolved in 1278 in a treaty under which sovereignty was shared between the bishop of Urgel and the French count of Foix, whose share passed in the 17th century to France's head of state.

During Word War II, Andorra remained neutral. After the war, its economy developed, based on tourism (notably skiing), trade, and banking, but, until the 1990s, it had an antiquated political system. Until 1970 only third-generation Andorran males had the vote, but in that year the vote was extended to women over the age of 25. The voting age for both sexes was lowered to 21 in 1971. Now the franchise extends to all first-generation Andorrans of foreign parentage aged 28 or over. But the electorate is small, at less than one-quarter of the total population, up to 70% of which consists of foreign residents, who are demanding political and nationality rights. Immigration, controlled by a quota system, is restricted to French and Spanish nationals intending to work in Andorra.

Prior to 1993 the country had no formal constitution and all motions and proposals had to be submitted to the permanent delegates (representatives of the joint heads of state) for approval.

Emergence of democracy A technically illegal political organization, the Democratic Party of Andorra (PDA), was founded in 1976, providing the basis for a future democratic system. Oscar Ribas Reig became the country's first prime minister in 1981, and in 1982 an Executive Council, headed by the prime minister, was appointed. This introduced a separation between legislative and executive powers.

The impetus for political reform in Andorra has been the Council of Europe, which, in 1990, advised it to adopt a modern constitution if it wished to become more fully integrated with the European Union (EU), with whom formal links were established in 1991. Andorra adopted a new constitution in 1993, which reduced the powers of the co-princes, legalized political parties, and gave those living and working in the country greater rights.

Democratic elections The first direct elections were held in 1993 and a coalition government formed under the prime minister, Oscar Ribas Reig. Andorra became a full member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe during 1994. Reig's National Democratic Grouping coalition lost the support of independents in 1994 and Marc Forné Molné of the Liberal Party of Andorra (PLA) replaced him, continuing in the post after the 1997 and 2001 general elections. In the 2005 elections, the PLA lost its overall majority, but held onto power, with Albert Pintat Santolaria at its head.

Jaume Bartumeu Cassany, the Social Democratic Party (PS) leader, became prime minister after the PS won half the assembly seats in the April 2009 general election. However, financial and economic crisis in Spain led to a sharp slowdown in Andorra's economy. The government sought to attract inward investment in new technologies and proposed new taxes, but a budget defeat led to an early general election in April 2011. This was won by a landslide margin by the centrist Democrats for Andorra (DA), a new party formed from the PLA, New Centre, and elements of the PS.

Led by Antoni Martí, the DA had campaigned against PS proposals to introduce a personal income tax. But in June 2013, prime minister Martí yielded to EU pressure to clamp down on tax evasion and introduced income tax to Andorra for the first time. In the March 2015 general election, support for the DA fell, but with 39% of the vote (down 16%) and 15 (down five) of the 28 assembly seats, it continued in power. The PLA finished second, with eight seats.

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Principality of Andorra

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Andorra-la-Vella

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