Before I visited Europe, Andorra had only been famous for me as one of the five smallest states in Europe. The other places I was familiar with are: Monaco in France, San Marino, Vatican City in Italy, and Liechtenstein, which lies between Austria and Switzerland.
Andorra lies in the Pyrenees, the mountains that separate Spain from France. When I was there in 1979, it was still a co-principality, governed jointly since 1278 by the Spanish bishop of Urgel and the French Chief of State. In 1993, the country was given a parliamentary democracy, but still retained the two heads of state.
The Andorrans were a poor, almost forgotten people until after World War II. Since then, they have become more affluent through the tourist industry, particularly collector stamps, as have all the small countries mentioned above. The natural resources of clean, portable water and mining have also contributed to their wealth. Because no taxes are levied, Andorra has become a haven for both legal and illegal immigrants. More than 70,000 people now inhabit this country of no more one city and five smaller towns. I remember that we were quite taken aback at the prices, even in 1979. I'm not certain that we bought anything beyond a drink though; I would have dearly loved to have just a stamp or two.
Andorra has a picturesque setting with rugged mountains and narrow valleys. The capital is Andorra la Vella and there are five smaller towns.
As in most mountainous countries, you can do a lot of hiking and mountainclimbing in summer and skiing in the winter. For those who enjoy these sports it is a beautiful place to go. For others, just driving around and enjoying the scenery may be enough, and will not take very much of your time. All of Andorra is only about two and a half times the size of Washington DC.
We did not spend more than an hour or two there. There was a small exhibit that we toured in Andorra la Vella and then we enjoyed the mountain road that led to the Pyrenees.