Andorra

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d’Andorra), also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra (Catalan: Principat de les Valls d’Andorra), is a sovereign landlocked microstate on the Iberian Peninsula, in the eastern Pyrenees, bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south. Believed to have been created by Charlemagne, Andorra was ruled by the Count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell, and the present principality was formed by a charter in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a diarchy headed by two Princes: the Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain, and the President of France.

Andorra is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 square kilometers (181 sq mi) and a population of approximately 77,281. The Andorran people are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalan descent. Andorra is the 16th-smallest country in the world by land and the 11th-smallest by population. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 meters (3,356 feet) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, however, Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Tourism in Andorra sees an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually. Andorra is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is its official currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. In 2013, Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

The origin of the word Andorra is unknown, although several hypotheses have been formulated. The oldest derivation of the word Andorra is from the Greek historian Polybius (The Histories III, 35, 1) who describes the Andosins, an Iberian Pre-Roman tribe, as historically located in the valleys of Andorra and facing the Carthaginian army in its passage through the Pyrenees during the Punic Wars. The word Andosini or Andosins (Ἀνδοσίνοι) may derive from the Basque handia whose meaning is “big” or “giant”.[19] The Andorran toponymy shows evidence of Basque language in the area. Another theory suggests that the word Andorra may derive from the old word Anorra that contains the Basque word ur (water).[20]

Another theory suggests that Andorra may derive from Arabic al-durra, meaning “The forest” (الدرة). When the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula, the valleys of the Pyrenees were covered by large tracts of forest, and other regions and towns, also administered by Muslims, received this designation.

Other theories suggest that the term derives from the Navarro-Aragonese andurrial, which means “land covered with bushes” or “scrubland”.

The folk etymology holds that Charlemagne had named the region as a reference to the Biblical Canaanite valley of Endor or Andor (where the Midianites had been defeated), a name also bestowed by his heir and son Louis le Debonnaire after defeating the Moors in the “wild valleys of Hell”.


 

History

La Balma de la Margineda, found by archaeologists at Sant Julia de Loria, was first settled in 9,500 BC as a passing place between the two sides of the Pyrenees. The seasonal camp was perfectly located for hunting and fishing by the groups of hunter-gatherers from Ariege and Segre.

During the Neolithic Age, a group of people moved to the Valley of Madriu (nowadays Natural Parc located in Escaldes-Engordany declared UNESCO World Heritage Site) as a permanent camp in 6640 BC. The population of the valley grew cereals, raised domestic livestock, and developed a commercial trade with people from the Segre and Occitania.

Other archaeological deposits include the Tombs of Segudet (Ordino) and Feixa del Moro (Sant Julia de Loria) both dated in 4900–4300 BC as an example of the Urn culture in Andorra. The model of small settlements began to evolve to a complex urbanism during the Bronze Age. Metallurgical items of iron, ancient coins, and relicaries can be found in the ancient sanctuaries scattered around the country.

The sanctuary of Roc de les Bruixes (Stone of the Witches) is perhaps the most important archeological complex of this age in Andorra, located in the parish of Canillo, about the rituals of funerals, ancient scripture and engraved stone murals.

Iberian and Roman Andorra

The inhabitants of the valleys were traditionally associated with the Iberians and historically located in Andorra as the Iberian tribe Andosins or Andosini (Ἀνδοσίνους) during the 7th and 2nd centuries BC. Influenced by Aquitanias, Basque and Iberian languages, the locals developed some current toponyms. Early writings and documents relating to this group of people goes back to the second century BC by the Greek writer Polybius in his Histories during the Punic Wars.

Some of the most significant remains of this era are the Castle of the Roc d’Enclar (part of the early Marca Hispanica), l’Anxiu in Les Escaldes and Roc de L’Oral in Encamp. The presence of Roman influence is recorded from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The places found with more Roman presence are in Camp Vermell (Red Field) in Sant Julia de Loria, and in some places in Encamp, as well as in the Roc d’Enclar. People continued trading, mainly with wine and cereals, with the Roman cities of Urgellet (nowaday La Seu d’Urgell) and all across Segre through the Via Romana Strata Ceretana (also known as Strata Confluetana).

The Visigoths and Carolingians: the legend of Charlemagne

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Andorra came under the influence of the Visigoths, not remotely from the Kingdom of Toledo, but locally from the Diocese of Urgell. The Visigoths remained in the valleys for 200 years, during which time Christianity spread. When the Muslim Empire and its conquest of most of the Iberian Peninsula replaced the ruling Visigoths, Andorra was sheltered from these invaders by the Franks.

Tradition holds that Charles the Great (Charlemagne) granted a charter to the Andorran people for a contingent of five thousand soldiers under the command of Marc Almugaver, in return for fighting against the Moors near Porté-Puymorens (Cerdanya).

Andorra remained part of the Marca Hispanica of the Frankish Empire being part of the territory ruled by the Count of Urgell and eventually by the bishop of the Diocese of Urgell. Also tradition holds that it was guaranteed by the son of Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, writing the Carta de Poblament or a local municipal charter circa 805.

In 988, Borrell II, Count of Urgell, gave the Andorran valleys to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya. Since then, the Bishop of Urgell, based in Seu d’Urgell, has been Co-prince of Andorra.

The first document that mentions Andorra as a territory is the Acta de Consagració i Dotació de la Catedral de la Seu d’Urgell (Deed of Consecration and Endowment of the Cathedral of La Seu d’Urgell). The old document dated from 839 depicts the six old parishes of the Andorran valleys and therefore the administrative division of the country.

Medieval Age: The Paréages and the founding of the Co-Principality

Before 1095, Andorra did not have any type of military protection and the Bishop of Urgell, who knew that the Count of Urgell wanted to reclaim the Andorran valleys, asked the Lord of Caboet for help and protection. In 1095 the Lord of Caboet and the Bishop of Urgell signed under oath a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra. Arnalda, daughter of Arnau of Caboet, married the Viscount of Castellbò and both became Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya. Years later their daughter, Ermessenda, married Roger Bernat II, the French Count of Foix. They became Roger Bernat II and Ermessenda I, Counts of Foix, Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya, and co-sovereigns of Andorra (shared with the Bishop of Urgell).

In the 13th century, a military dispute arose between the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix as aftermath of the Cathar Crusade. The conflict was resolved in 1278 with the mediation of the king of Aragon, Pere II between the Bishop and the Count, by the signing of the first paréage which provided that Andorra’s sovereignty be shared between the count of Foix (whose title would ultimately transfer to the French head of state) and the Bishop of Urgell, in Catalonia. This gave the principality its territory and political form.

A second paréage was signed in 1288 after a dispute when the Count of Foix ordered the construction of a castle in Roc d’Enclar.[38][40] The document was ratified by the noble notary Jaume Orig of Puigcerdà and the construction of military structures in the country was prohibited.

In 1364 the political organization of the country named the figure of the syndic (now spokesman and president of the parliament) as representative of the Andorrans to their co-princes making possible the creation of local departments (comuns, quarts and veïnats). After being ratified by the Bishop Francesc Tovia and the Count Jean I, the Consell de la Terra or Consell General de les Valls (General Council of the Valleys) was founded in 1419, the second oldest parliament in Europe. The syndic Andreu d’Alàs and the General Council organized the creation of the Justice Courts (La Cort de Justicia) in 1433 with the Co-Princes and the collection of taxes like foc i lloc (literally fire and site, a national tax active since then).

Although we can find remains of ecclesiastical works dating before the 9th century (Sant Vicenç d’Enclar or Església de Santa Coloma), Andorra developed exquisite Romanesque Art during the 9th through 14th centuries, particularly in the construction of churches, bridges, religious murals and statues of the Virgin and Child (Our Lady of Meritxell being the most important).[33] Nowadays, the Romanesque buildings that form part of Andorra’s cultural heritage stand out in a remarkable way, with an emphasis on Església de Sant Esteve, Sant Joan de Caselles, Església de Sant Miquel d’Engolasters, Sant Martí de la Cortinada and the medieval bridges of Margineda and Escalls among many others.

While the Catalan Pyrenees were embryonic of the Catalan language at the end of the 11th century Andorra was influenced by the appearance of that language where it was adopted by proximity and influence even decades before it was expanded by the rest of the Crown of Aragon.[4

The local population based its economy during the Middle Ages in livestock and agriculture, as well as in furs and weavers. Later, at the end of the 11th century, the first iron foundries began to appear in Northern Parishes like Ordino, much appreciated by the master artisans who developed the art of the forges, an important economic activity in the country from the 15th century.[33]

16th to 18th centuries

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