192-PART GUIDE TO THE WORLD; PART 4: ANDORRA
Sunday 21 March 1999
Principality of Andorra
About 65,000, though of these only 12,000 are actually Andorran nationals.
It would fit about 75 times into Belgium.
Landlocked in the Pyrenees, sandwiched between France and Spain (half- way between Toulouse and Barcelona). The landscape comprises gorges and narrow areas of fertile pastureland surrounded by forested mountains.
Not many to speak of, though the Casa de la Vall in the capital city Andorra la Vella has been the seat of the country's parliament for more than three centuries and is worth a visit. The downstairs section of the same building contains the country's only courtroom.
MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN
Well, none really famous. But for the record, the name of the current head of government is Marc Forne.
A huge mixed stew of various sausages, meats, beans, pasta and rice called escudella barretjada which is best cooked in enormous pots in open squares by mayors for their villagers. St Antony's day in freezing mid-January is the best time to witness (and join in) these outdoor feasts.
BEST MOMENTS IN HISTORY
In 1276 the constitution of Andorra, the Pareatjes, was established, giving the Andorrans self-government for the first time, with the (Spanish) Bishop of Urgell and (French) Count of Fois as feudal overlords. In 1993 the country became a sovereign state.
WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY
During the time of Franco, France and Spain staged a mini confrontation by sending in their local police forces - the Gendarmerie and Guardia Civil respectively - provoking the local people to arm themselves in self- defence. Nobody got hurt.
A phrase book (the Andorrans nearly all speak three languages) or possibly a stamp album. (Andorra issues lots of collectors' pieces.)
HOW NOT TO BEHAVE
Do not forget that the Andorrans are neither flamboyant Gauls nor exuberant Spaniards. They are in fact down-to-earth mountain people and do not like to dance.
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