The Principality of Andorra is one of the smallest and oldest countries in Europe, with an area of 468 km2 and 74,000 inhabitants. Andorra is a natural paradise in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, with just an 8% occupation of the area by the human and the rest remains untouched nature, with forests, lakes and 3,000m high mountains.
The legend tells that Charlemagne, Charles the Great, King of the Franks, chartered Andorra in year 805 a.C. to thank the original inhabitants of the valleys in Andorra for their heroic battle against the Saracens and establishing in this way Andorra as one of the oldest countries in Europe.
Since 1278 Andorra's sovereignty was shared between the count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of State) and the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia. The agreement is called ‘Pareatge’ and it defined the rules for the shared governance of Andorra, especially concerning the law, taxes and defence. 10 years after this date, a second treaty was signed, which complemented the first one and added further rules and regulations and which made the inhabitants of the Valleys to pay a yearly charge to both of the sovereigns, who would ultimately receive the titles of co-princes of Andorra.
During World War II, Andorra remained neutral and was an important smuggling route between Vichy France and Spain. Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. This relation can clearly be seen in the Andorran flag, which is made up of the combination of the Spanish flag in the yellow-red colours and the French flag in the blue-red colours.
Also in the coat of arms it can be seen the relation to the neighbouring countries on both sides of the Pyrenees. The coat of arms is divides in 4 quarters: top-left represents the bishop from Urgell and the lower-right quarter, with two bulls, represents the old French region of Bearn. Top-right and its three red strips on gold represents the French Count from Foix and the lower-left quarter with its four red strips on gold represents Catalonia the north east region of Spain.
In year 1993 Andorra established its first Constitution, which meant the conversion from an old medieval State to an independent democratic country, and finally abolished the feudal tax system of paying yearly proceeds to the co-princes.
Andorra is one of the highest countries in Europe with the tallest mountain set at 2,942 m at the Comapedrosa summit. Summers are sunny and warm typical of the high altitude Mediterranean climates, and in winter there are heavy snow falls, which assure excellent conditions for all types of winter sports, well under cold but sunny conditions - there are 300 days of sun in Andorra on average .
Thanks to the regular snow falls, Andorra is a reference for skiers from all over Europe and offers more than 300 km of ski slopes well organized for the ski and snow-board lovers. The ski seasons commences in November and extends all the way through to end of April.
In February 2012 Andorra – Soldeu was a ski spectacle of world class, World Cup Women Alpine Skiing has been organized by the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Racing on the legendary slopes Avet.
The summer in Andorra is offering no less than the winter. Hidden behind every corner you will find stunning postcard views, green valleys with tiny mountain villages and countless trails that lead through the endless high white mountains.
Whatever the season, an active day is well concluded with a relaxing stay at the spa in the Pyrenees.
Travel and culturally interested guests will not be bored in Andorra. This country has an incredible story that is worth to explore, a story that starts already in the IX Century and whose traces can be discovered in the Romanesque churches and the narrow streets that have survived untouched until today.
Andorra is a shopper's paradise; the country is almost in itself a modern shopping mall, where you will find jewellery stores, boutiques, brand stores and electronics markets, where you find top luxury items very well priced.