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Capital: Andorra la Vella
Brief History of Andorra:
Andorra was originally created as a buffer state by the French leader Charlemagne during the Middle Ages. It was meant to keep the Muslim Moors out of France. The Andorrans were to fight off the Moors and protect France. In return Charlemagne would grant them a charter. There were several of these buffer states created. Andorra is the last one of these states that is still an independent country.
Andorra had a series of rulers starting with Charles the Bald, Charlemagne's grandson, in the 7th century. The state was handed off to various leaders, sometimes as a reward and sometime through marriage. At one point there was a dispute as to whether France or Spain owned Andorra. They decided to share it. There are co-princes who rule the country; the Bishop of Urgell from Spain and the French President.
Although Andorra is a small, landlocked country, it still manages to do okay economically, mostly through tourism. It is also considered a tax haven for the rich. It uses the Euro for its currency, or money, although it is not a member of the European Union.
The Geography of Andorra
Total Size: 468 square km
Size Comparison: 2.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Geographical Coordinates: 42 30 N, 1 30 E
World Region or Continent: Europe
General Terrain: rugged mountains dissected by narrow valleys
Geographical Low Point: Riu Runer 840 m
Geographical High Point: Coma Pedrosa 2,946 m
Climate: temperate; snowy, cold winters and warm, dry summers
Major cities: ANDORRA LA VELLA (capital) 25,000 (2009), Escaldes-Engordany, Encamp
The People of Andorra
Type of Government: parliamentary democracy (since March 1993) that retains as its chiefs of state a coprincipality; the two princes are the president of France and bishop of Seo de Urgel, Spain, who are represented locally by coprinces' representatives
Languages Spoken: Catalan (official), French, Castilian, Portuguese
Independence: 1278 (formed under the joint suzerainty of the French count of Foix and the Spanish bishop of Urgel)
National Holiday: Our Lady of Meritxell Day, 8 September (1278)
Religions: Roman Catholic (predominant)
National Anthem or Song: El Gran Carlemany (The Great Charlemagne)
Economy of Andorra
Major Industries: tourism (particularly skiing), cattle raising, timber, banking
Agricultural Products: small quantities of rye, wheat, barley, oats, vegetables; sheep
Natural Resources: hydropower, mineral water, timber, iron ore, lead
Major Exports: tobacco products, furniture
Major Imports: consumer goods, food, electricity
Currency: euro (EUR)
National GDP: $3,169,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
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