The centre of Andorra

Fun Facts About Andorra

Travelling to Andorra? Here are Some Fun Facts To Know Before You Go

Andorra is one of those fascinating little places that you may have heard about, but how much do you really know about it?  Is it a city? A Province? A Country?  And where exactly is it?  

Well, Let’s look at some of the fun facts about Andorra and discover why it was one of those places on our bucket list that we wanted to explore.

If you are looking for some great tours to take in Andorra check out our post that highlights 5 amazing tours.

1. Andorra Is A Country

Andorra is a tiny European country sandwiched between two of Western Europe’s largest countries, Spain to the south and France to the north.  This makes its diminutive size even more evident – kind of like a pebble squashed between 2 boulders.

Andorra, in fact, is one of the tiniest countries in the world with an area of only 468 square kilometres (181 sq mi).   A crazy fun fact is that you could fit 7 Andorras into Rhode Island, the smallest state in the U.S., or 3 Andorras into the city of London!

A fun fact is how small the country of Andorra really is

If you wanted to drive from one side of Andorra to the other, it would take just under an hour.  Now, that’s one small country!

2. Part of Andorra is an UNESCO World Heritage Site

It’s true!  Nearly 1/10th of Andorra’s territory is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The area of approximately 43 square kilometres is located in the southeast of Andorra and comprises the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley in the heart of the Pyrenees.

According to UNESCO, it was designated a World Heritage Site because it reflects the way the ancient communal system has successfully managed the glacial landscape, valleys, and wooded areas over the last 700 years.  

The beautiful mountain scenery around Andorra

The valley is a microcosm of climate change and pastoral mountain culture with its own economy and social systems that illustrates a perfect balance between the local communities and nature.

3. Andorra is a Microstate

Even though Andorra is a country it is also a microstate.  A microstate is a term that is used to describe countries that are both very small in geographic size as well as low in population. 

Andorra is one of 6 designated microstates in Europe along with Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.  Of these, Andorra is the largest in geographic size at 468 sq km and the second largest in population with approximately 80,000.  

(In case you are interested, Malta has the largest population at 500,000 and Vatican City the smallest at 801.)

4. Andorra is in the Mountains

To be more precise, Andorra is in the southern Pyrenees Mountains wedged between France and Spain.  It also happens to be one of the highest mountainous countries in the world, ranking number 6.  

Andorra is nestled amongst the Pyrenees mountains

Because of its unique location in the Pyrenees Mountains, Andorra is often a stop on the Tour de France.  Port d’Envalira, the mountain pass in Andorra used by the Tour de France, is the highest paved road in the Pyrenees.

5. Andorra has the most tourists in the world (per capita)

That’s right!  Despite being such a small size and being tucked away in the middle of the mountains, Andorra has the largest per capita tourism rate in the world.  

The official Andorra city sign for visitors

With a population of only 80,000 people, Andorra gets roughly 8,000,000 visitors per year.  Roughly 5,000,000 of those visitors stay for at least one night while around 3,000,000 come in for the day.  Most of those tourists are from Spain or France, Andorra’s only 2 immediate neighbours.

6. Fun Fact – There is No Airport in Andorra!

It might seem surprising that a country that boasts the highest per capita tourist rate in the world would not have an airport, but it’s true.  Another fun fact about Andorra is that it is completely landlocked and has no train stations, so the only way to get there is by car or by bus.

On the road to Andorra

The drive from both Barcelona in Spain and Toulouse in France is about 2 ½ hours and the scenery through the mountains is breathtaking.  

✅ If you aren’t interested in driving yourself to Andorra you could look at this highly-rated full-day tour that will take you to Andorra and the surrounding areas.

7. Catalan is the Official Language of Andorra

Catalan is the official language of Andorra and it is the sole country in the world where Catalan is the one and only official language!  When visiting Andorra you will often hear Spanish, French and English spoken as well. 

Catalan is spoken in the whole area of the southern Pyrenees, including Catalonia in Spain and Occitania in France.

8. Andorra has one of the Largest Spas in Europe

We were quite impressed when we enjoyed a blissful and relaxing morning at the Caldea Spa in Andorra la Vella, one of the largest thermal spas in Europe.  It is in a massive modern complex that happens to be the tallest building in the country at 18 stories.

The amazing Caldea Spa in Andorra

Aside from its impressive interior thermal pools, there is a spectacular external glass bottom panoramic lagoon suspended over the Gran Valera River that has magnificent views of the mountains around you. We spent quite a bit of time here just taking in the amazing vistas.

The outside spa at Caldea

Read our full blog post about our visit to the Caldea Spa in Andorra.

9. Andorra has an Original Salvador Dali Sculpture

Andorra is home to a remarkable sculpture by surrealist Salvador Dali.  The bronze sculpture is called “La Noblesse du Temps” (The Nobility of Time) and features a melting clock draped on the trunk of a tree.  The sculpture represents the passing of time.  

A fun fact about Andorra is that is has an original Dali sculpture in its centre

You can find this impressive work of art in the downtown area at Plaça de la Rotonda next to the Gran Valira River.  

You might wonder how a work by Salvador Dali would end up in the mountains of a tiny country like Andorra.  Well, Dali was born in Figueres, Spain, a small town about 3 hours southeast of Andorra la Vella.

10. Andorra has a Famous Sculpture by Miguel Angel Gonzalez Suspended in the Mountains

That’s right!  The Ponderer is a 13-metre-tall bronze statue of a naked man relaxing on a beam that seems to be suspended in mid-air high in the Pyrenees Mountains and overlooking the stunning valley below. 

The amazing Ponderer sculpture in Andorra

The viewpoint is called Mirador Roc del Quer, and is one of the most breathtaking vistas in the Pyrenees.  The cantilevered lookout is 20 metres long with only 8 metres being attached to solid ground.  

You can walk to the end of the lookout and join the nonchalant Ponderer as you both gaze at the gorgeous landscape that surrounds you.  

A fun place to visit in Andorra is Mirador Roc del Quer

Look down and you will see the winding, spaghetti-like road you drove up to get here.  

The winding roads in the mountains

11. Andorra has never had its own currency

Andorra uses the euro as its official currency, even though it’s not part of the EU!  That’s because Andorra has never had its own currency.

Prior to Andorra adopting the euro it used both the French franc and the Spanish peseta as official currencies.  The peseta was the currency typically used for official business such as paying salaries.

Andorra was given the right to mint its own euros in 2013 which means it is allowed to put its own design on the national side of the coin.  The other side of the coin is the same design that is common to all euros.

12. Andorra is known for its fabulous Ski trails

Well, this fact may not be so surprising.  You might expect that a country located in the middle of the Pyrenees mountains would have a lot of ski trails.  But what is surprising is that there are more kilometres of ski trails in Andorra than there are roads!

Andorra boasts a total of 303 kilometres of ski slopes in a country that only has 269 kilometres of roads!  That’s a lot of skiing.  You also only need one ski pass to access all those trails.  No wonder skiing is so popular for both Andorrans and visitors alike.

13. Andorra is a Shopper’s Haven

Here is a fun fact for you – Andorra has one of the most extensive outdoor pedestrian shopping complexes in all of Europe.  Cleverly called the Shopping Mile, the complex ties together the commercial districts of Meritxell, Vivand and Fener Boulevard into a unified shopping hub. 

The shopping mile in Andorra

The complex was given the English name “Shopping Mile” because English is the universal language, and the merchants association wanted it to be recognized all over the world.

14. Andorra is a Co-Principality

Ok, so Andorra is a country, and it’s a microstate, but did you know that it’s also a co-principality? When we visited Andorra, I didn’t even know what that meant.  It turns out that a co-principality is a place where the ruling powers are split between two princes.  

The fascinating thing is that there is only one such co-principality in all the world and it’s Andorra!  The Andorran co-principality is a formal designation that was created by charter in 1278 and initially ruled by the Bishop of Urgell (a Roman Catholic Diocese) and the Count of Foix (a feudal territory).  

Interesting sculptures in Andorra

Today the co-princes of Andorra are Joan Enric Vives Sicilian, the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, and Emmanuel Macron, the current President of France.

15. Tobacco Used to Be Its Main Industry

With only about 2% of its total area being suitable for agriculture, it’s surprising that one of Andorra’s most lucrative industries was the production of tobacco.  

While it is no longer the top industry in the country, tobacco production and sales are still quite a lucrative business.  Visitors from France and Spain will often stock up on cigarettes while in Andorra because of the low tax levies on tobacco products.  

Fun fact about Andorra is that there are much lower taxes on tobacco products

It is widely believed that tobacco smuggling occurs more in Andorra than anywhere else in Europe.

16. Andorra’s Flag May Confuse You

Andorra has a flag that is quite like those of 3 other countries – Chad, Moldova and Romania.  All 4 countries have flags that have the same 3 colours in exactly the same sequence: blue, yellow, and red.  

Andorra’s flag is differentiated from the others because it has a crest of the Andorran Coat of Arms in the centre.  The centre yellow stripe on Andorra’s flag is also slightly wider than the 2 outer stripes.

17. Andorra is not part of the European Union

Even though it is physically located on the European Continent between 2 of the EU’s biggest partners, Andorra is not a member of the European Union.  That’s because the European Union has not been set up to include microstates.

Andorra still has a special relationship with the EU.  It is treated with the same privileges as EU state members when it comes to trade in manufactured goods without having to pay tariffs.  But it is treated the same as a non-member for agricultural goods where it must pay tariffs.

Crossing the border into Andorra

Unlike other Schengen states, Andorra maintains border controls with Spain and France, although, in reality, if you are passing through Andorra you can only go from one Schengen state to another. 

18. Life Expectancy in Andorra is one of the highest in the world

Life expectancy in Andorra is ranked number 3 in the world by the World Health Organization.

With its location in the Pyrenees mountains, Andorrans benefit from clean, pollution-free air.  They also live a healthy, outdoor lifestyle with plenty of hiking trails and lots of walking and climbing.  

Andorra is a city with many walking trails and paths

Andorrans also enjoy the benefits of one of the best healthcare systems in the world with up to 100% coverage on medical expenses.

19. Andorra’s Capital is the highest in Europe

Being in the mountains you would expect the capital city of the country to be at a high altitude, but just how high is Andorra la Vella?  Well, it is just over a kilometre above sea level – 1023 metres to be exact, making it the highest capital in all of Europe.

Driving up into Andorra

While it holds the title of the highest capital in Europe, Andorra la Villa ranks 30th in the world for capital cities at the highest elevation.  La Paz in Bolivia is the highest in the world at an elevation of 3640 metres!

20. Andorra is one of the Safest countries in the world

Andorra is consistently rated one of the safest countries in the world to visit.  While petty crime is an issue in every country, the incidence is relatively low in Andorra.  

Andorra is a safe and clean city

Most of the safety concerns regarding visiting Andorra would be weather related, especially in the wintertime when the mountain roads may become icy or snow-covered.

21. Andorra has one of the lowest tax levies in the world

Andorra has long been known as a tax-free zone, especially to its French and Spanish neighbours who come here frequently to shop.  The fact is, there is some tax in Andorra, but it is small compared to most other countries in the world.

  • Andorra has a 4.5% value-added tax on most sales with the exception of food (excluding alcohol), books, magazines and newspapers which are all taxed at 1%.  This is far lower than the value-added tax of most European countries which starts at 15%.
  • It’s not only Andorra’s value-added tax on goods and services that is low, but the personal income tax in Andorra is also one of the lowest in the world.  Andorra has a graduated tax bracket with a maximum of 10% tax on personal income over €40,000.

22. Fun Fact: Andorra was once ruled by a Russian Adventurer (sort of)

Here is a really unusual fact about Andorra – Boris Skossyreff, a Russian adventurer (and somewhat disreputable character), declared himself Boris I, King of Andorra, on July 8, 1934.  

Boris had managed to take advantage of the social unrest that was occurring over all of Europe at that time and hoodwinked the Andorran Parliament into appointing him as King. He also declared war on the Bishop of Urgell, but that did not go over very well, and he was arrested by Spanish soldiers and expelled to Portugal.

Poor Boris only reigned for 12 days so he didn’t get much done.

23. Andorra has an Olympic Team

Despite being a tiny microstate with only 80,000 people, it’s quite interesting that Andorra has an Olympic team.  I guess with all those mountains it makes sense that they would have a competitive ski team, snowboarding team and cycling team, but they also have competed in swimming, athletics, and judo.

Unfortunately, they have not been able to win a medal at either the Summer or Winter Olympics.

24. Football (Soccer) is Andorra’s Favourite Sport

Based on its location in the mountains, you might think that skiing would be the favourite sport in Andorra, but it’s actually football. 

Despite its tiny size and small population base, Andorra plays quite a bit of football.  It has a national team that competes in the qualifying rounds for FIFA and the UEFA European Championship.

Andorra also has a professional football team, FC Andorra, that plays in the 4th tier of the Spanish football league system.

25. Now Here Is A Fun Fact: Mushing is a Popular Activity in Andorra!

Mushing, the official name for dog sled racing, is an increasingly popular activity in Andorra.  It is a great way to spend time outdoors for both people and dogs.  

Mushing used to be quite a common mode of transportation in many mountainous countries including Andorra.  Mushers are avid dog lovers and treat their animals with care and respect providing them with good food, plenty of rest breaks and regular veterinary checks.

The most common dogs used in mushing are huskies and their excitement at the start of an event is their testimony to how much they love doing it.

26. Andorra Does Not Have a Standing Army

Andorra is prohibited from having a standing army in its constitution.  In fact, the constitution defines Andorra as a “peaceful state”, which also precludes it from engaging in military conflicts.

So how does it protect itself?  Andorra has negotiated treaties with both France and Spain which would provide military support in case of external threats or attacks.

The Final Word…Fun Facts About Andorra

Ok.  So, it should be obvious by now that even though it’s one of the smallest countries in the world, there are a lot of fun facts about Andorra.  

We spent a weekend here in the early spring and thought we would run out of things to do.  Were we wrong!  Despite its diminutive size, Andorra is big on value, outdoor activities, a healthy lifestyle, great scenery, spectacular views and friendly people.

Andorra is definitely a country that deserves a spot on your bucket list.

Our picture in the surrounding mountains of Andorra