Andorra: Country and Foreign Investment
Population, Language and Culture
This page was last updated on 30 Jan 2019.
Charlemagne is said to have given the Andorrans their independence in 748 as reward for fighting the Moors who invaded Spain in 711. During the Middle Ages, the counts of Foix in France and bishops of Urgell in Spain squabbled over Andorra. It has had de facto independence since 1278, when the count and bishop agreed to become co-princes of the country. The count's rights ended up with France and were eventually transferred to the French president; the bishopric retains its original rights.
In 1993, after 700 years of non-involvement in anything very much, Andorra gave itself a constitution and became a member of the UN. In theory. the two 'co-princes', the French president and the bishop of Urgell, retain responsibility for defence and foreign affairs.
Andorra has a well preserved architectural heritage. Fine examples of Roman art can be seen throughout the country, in its many small churches and medieval bridges. Most of the festivals and popular traditions coincide with religious events and the earth's natural cycles.
The country's scenic beauty and resorts, together with freedom from customs and excise duties, attract a remarkable number of visitors – 10.2 million visitors in 2015. This apparently enormous number includes around 2 million holiday tourists. The rest are mainly day-trippers from France and Spain in search of cheap goods, mainly cigarettes.
In January 2019 the population was estimated to be 77,000. This represents a more than eightfold increase since 1955. According to the latest estimates (2016), only 46% of the population is Andorran, while 26% are Spanish, 13% Portuguese and 5% French. The official language is Catalan, which in most ways lies somewhere between Castilian Spanish and dialects of southern France. Standard French and Castilian Spanish are also spoken.