Andorra: country barely visible on the map, no army, airports, prisons

Andorra is hardly noticeable but an amazing country on the world map. The local life expectancy ranks second after Japan.

Life in Andorra indicates that there are no reasons for concern among residents, but there are plenty of joys. The one who reigns there surpasses the world order of the largest and most successful states. And all this against the background of the absence of the army, prisons, and even lawyers. The life of the locals is measured and calm, and there is no end to tourists and immigrants. Let’s put aside intrigues – we are talking about tiny Andorra.

Andorra principality with a long history

Unremarkable on the world map, the Principality of Andorra is a pair of narrow, elongated squares divided by high valley cliffs between France and Spain. The name in Catalan means “wasteland”.

There are seven cities practically fused together within the country. The highest European capital – the city of Andorra la Vella, stands in the Pyrenees at 1029 meters. In total, in Andorra, there are about 80 thousand citizens, mostly Catholics. The country gained its independence in the 13th century when the French count and the Spanish bishop signed an agreement.

Andorrans have existed closed for centuries, fearing for the preservation of cultural heritage and traditions. The state border from 1278 has not changed to this day, being the oldest extant in the world.

Politically, Andorra is a constitutional monarchy, governed jointly by France and the Bishop of Urgell. The main landscape of the country is the mountains, so fertile land is limited and very expensive. Many houses are built right in the mountains. Andorrans make the most efficient use of every meter. To get the latest stories, install our app here.

A small but extremely successful country manages to balance between influential neighbors for centuries, maintaining its independence in all European storms. Andorra, by its very existence, proved to the world that even within such narrow borders, it is possible to create a highly developed state with a solid standard of living.

As for the indigenous population, it is in the minority in Andorra. The reason is that the Principality attracts immigrants, of whom there are at least 58%. Wealthy visitors are attracted by the modest tax burden, the reliability of bank deposits, and the highest financial privacy.

For 10 consecutive centuries, Andorra has not been involved in any significant military clashes, deservedly being considered one of the safest states in Europe. Therefore, the army has become obsolete as a mandatory element of statehood. The 200-strong police force is quite capable of handling rare civil conflicts or pacifying rampant tourists.

The Bar has been outlawed in the Principality since 1864. Andorrans associate this profession with the protection of criminals. To quote a local law, “the appearance of learned lawyers who make black white in our courts is forbidden”. The situation in the country is calm, but if, theoretically, a crime happens here, the offender will go to court to serve his sentence in France or Spain.

People do not leave Andorra in search of a better life. There is no unemployment, and the average life expectancy is almost 85 years. The average civilian age is 40. Despite the lack of social security and all sorts of benefits, the standard of living in Andorra is high.

The minimum income is 1100 euros, the average income is 2500 euros. A teacher earns at least 2,000 euros. Rent of a two-room apartment in Andorra will cost 30 000 euros, and even in an inexpensive cafe high-quality and plentiful meals are guaranteed. To get the latest stories, install our app here.

Shoppers from neighboring states come for local shopping. The popularity of local shopping is high because of the lack of customs duties, as Andorra is known for special benefits such as Duty-Free. The Principality’s number of stores per person is entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

Andorra has small deposits of minerals, but the production is not carried out due to the inaccessibility of transport. Agriculture is practically absent, as no more than 2% of lands are suitable for cultivation. In this case, the Andorrans manage to collect a huge harvest, which is enough to supply the main vegetables and fruits of the country. And parsley, which is a local favorite, is most often given away for free in the stores.

Andorra’s export activity is limited to tobacco products and furniture, but this does not determine the country’s income. By the way, when the country has gathered more tobacco than possible to export, the excess is simply burned.

Tourist center without airport

Andorra’s main source of income is tourism due to its geographical location. Getting here is possible from France and Spain, as the Principality has no airport. Each year at least 10 million tourists visit the small state with an area of only 467 square kilometers and a population of 90 thousand. This fact has endowed Andorra with the status of one of the most touristy countries in the world.

The state located between the Pyrenees slopes attracts skiers from all over the world. Andorra la Vella resort, known outside of Europe, is also the capital of golf clubs. Golf lovers consider it an honor to play at least once in Andorra. The high-mountain golf center is located at an altitude of 2250 meters above sea level.

Almost one-tenth of the area is recognized as a World Heritage Site, being, in fact, a natural open-air museum. This is the area of Madriu-Perafita-Claror National Park. The local glaciers, valleys, pastures, and mountain slopes are protected by UNESCO. It also attracts tourists and ancient castles, temples, modern avant-garde buildings, and distinctive street sculptures. To get the latest stories, install our app here.

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