Andorra: Country and Foreign Investment
Population, Language and Culture
In July, 2013, the population was estimated to be 85,293. Only 33% of the population is Andorran, while 43% are Spanish, 11% Portuguese, 7% French, and the remainder split among a variety of nationalities. The official language is Catalan although French and Castilian (Spanish) are also spoken.
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 the bishops of Urgel in Spain squabbled over Andorra, but in 1278 the bishop and the count agreed to become co-princes of Andorra. The Count's rights ended up with France, but the bishopric still has its rights. In practice, Andorra has had de facto independence since 1278.
Finally, after 700 years of non-involvement in anything very much, Andorra gave itself a constitution in 1993, and is a member of the UN. Theoretically, the two 'co-princes', France and the bishop of Urgel, 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, used to attract an amazing 11.6 million visitors annually, but these numbers have fallen steadily over the past four years and now stand at approx. 6 million. This apparently enormous number includes around 2 million tourists, the rest are mainly day-trippers from France and Spain in search of cheap cigarettes.