History of Andorra

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History of Andorra

The history of Andorra is relatively young. Because of its altitude and location, the majority of its domains were impregnable zones for centuries. In spite of this, they say that Carlomargo founded the city in the year 805.

The first indications of settlements, although not established, are in Engordany, in the first or second century before Christ.

In the Middle Ages, Andorra and its valleys pertained to the Earldom of Urgell, and shortly after, passed to the hands of the Viscount of Castelbó after the Counts exchanged them for other lands in Cerdaya.

Later on, these lands passed to the Count of Foix, and after that was converted into a feudal estate, of which the land was shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Urgell in a contract signed in 1176. This situation was maintained until the 13th Century, when both sides decided to divide the land after years and years of dispute.

After this point in history, the Bishop of Urgell and the King of France governed Andorra. It is still governed as such today with the small difference that in France there is now a Republic, and its president is reponsible for Andorra. From the 13th Century onward, the Principality of Andorra established its political situation that we see today, with the small exception of a short annexion period in which Napoleon governed France.

During the 15th Century, the Counts of Foix converted themselves into the Kings of Navarra. A century later, in 1589, Enric, King of Navarra, Count of Foix, Viscount of Bearn, and Lord of the lands of Andorra, revolted against the French throne.

In 1419, the first form of Andorra´s self-government came about with the Consejo de la Tierra (Council of the Land).

In the 19th Century, the politics of Andorra solidified with the establishment of a democracy in which the heads of family could vote to decide their representatives.

Andorra Today

Nowadays, Andorra is a Constitutional Parlamentary Principality. Its constitution dates only back to the 14th of March, 1993, and just as it was in the 13th Century, the power of government falls split between the Bishop of Seu d’Urgell and the president of the Republic of France.

Its territory is divided in to parishes, something similar to that of which we know as districts in large cities. Its capital is Andorra la Bella (Andorra the Beautiful).

In reference to the economy, today Andorra has a strong dependency on tourism that makes up 80% of its interior gross product and nine million people visiting anually.

Andorra´s two main tourist seasons are in winter (ski season) and in summer (high mountain hiking). This is why the hotels in the cities are open almost all year round.

Currently, Andorra isn´t a member of the European Union, but has direct contacts and agreements with it. For example, the euro is the official currency of Andorra.

Today, Andorra has a population of about 80.000 people, divided between Andorreans (about 35%) Spaniards (around 38%), French and Portuguese (20%) and other nacionalities at about 5%. The religion of Andorra is catholic.

Andorra is now a principality that lives on sports such as ski, and outdoor activities. In the cities, people come to ski, to shop, or to spend their vacation in the breathtaking surroundings of the Pyrenees.

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