Mar 142014


Today is Constitution Day in 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), a landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 (181 sq mi) and an estimated population of 85,000 in 2012. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 meters (3,356 ft) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.


Created under a charter in  988, the present Principality was formed in 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish/Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the President of France/President of the French Republic.Tradition holds that Charles the Great (Charlemagne) granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for fighting against the Moors. Overlordship of the territory was by the Count of Urgell and eventually by the bishop of the Diocese of Urgell. 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 owned Andorra.

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 for help and protection from the Lord of Caboet. 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 11th century, a dispute arose between the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix. The conflict was resolved in 1278 with the mediation of Aragon 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.

Over the years, the co-title to Andorra passed to the kings of Navarre. After Henry of Navarre became King Henry IV of France, he issued an edict in 1607 that established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra. In 1812–13, the First French Empire annexed Catalonia and divided it in four départements, with Andorra being made part of the district of Puigcerdà (département of Sègre).


Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany during World War I, but did not actually take part in the fighting. It remained in an official state of belligerency until 1939 as it was not included in the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1933, France occupied Andorra as a result of social unrest before elections. On 12 July 1934, adventurer Boris Skossyreff issued a proclamation in Urgell, declaring himself “Boris I, King of Andorra”, simultaneously declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell. He was arrested by Spanish authorities on 20 July and ultimately expelled from Spain. From 1936 to 1940, a French detachment was garrisoned in Andorra to act as a buffer to protect the state from the influences of the Spanish Civil War and Francoist Spain. Francoist troops reached the Andorran border in the later stages of the war. 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, Spain and Portugal. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transport and communications have lessened its isolation. Its political system was modernized in 1993, when it became a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe.


Andorra has a small army, which has historically been raised or reconstituted at various dates, but has never in modern times amounted to a standing army. The basic principle of Andorran defense is that all able-bodied men between 21 and 60 should be available to fight if called upon by the sounding of the Sometent (alarm), and all heads of household are required to keep a rifle. Being a landlocked country, Andorra has no navy.

In the modern era, the army has consisted of a very small body of volunteers willing to undertake ceremonial duties. Uniforms were handed down from generation to generation within families and communities. Despite not being involved in any fighting, Andorra was technically the longest combatant in the First World War, as the country was left out of the Versailles Peace Conference, and technically remained at war with Germany from 1914 until 1939.

Pete Seeger wrote this song as a tribute to Andorra’s lack of a military:

The Constitution of Andorra is the supreme law of the Principality of Andorra. It was adopted on 2 February 1993 and given assent by the Andorran people in a referendum on 14 March 1993. According to the Constitution itself, it was to enter into force the day of its publication in the Butlletí Oficial del Principat d’Andorra, which occurred on 28 April 1993.

The Constitution was signed by Andorra’s two co-princes, the President of France, and the Bishop of Urgell, who at that time were François Mitterrand and Joan Martí Alanis respectively. The new constitution stipulates that these two officials are Andorra’s heads of state even though this arrangement has existed for centuries in one form or other. The complete outline of the constitution can be found here:

Due to the fact that Andorra is between France and Spain, Andorran food is mainly Catalan. The cuisine in Andorra also combines French and Italian food. Pasta, meat, fish and vegetables are the main ingredients for every meal. In the northern region of Andorra French and Italian food is more popular using more pasta, cheese, bread and fish; while in the southern region Catalan influences are more common. Local dishes include ‘Trinxat‘ made of Bacon, cabbage and potatoes; ‘Cunillo‘ which is rabbit stewed in tomato sauce;’ Xai’ which is actually roasted Lamb; ‘Coques’ are flavored flat cakes and ‘Truites de Carreroles’ which is actually a mushroom omelet flavored with tarragon. Cuisine in Andorra also include sausages, cheese, and a large variety of pork and ham dishes and a variety of vegetables. As in Spain in general, meat predominates.  I love rabbit, but cannot get it very often.  Nonetheless here is cunillo.




1 rabbit (about 3lb/ 1.5kg), jointed
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 onions, thinly sliced
1lb/500g crushed or chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup/ 250ml white wine
½ cup/120ml water
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


Wash the rabbit and rub with a little vinegar, then joint and cut into about 15 serving pieces.

Add olive oil to the base of a large cast iron casserole dish and sauté the rabbit in this until nicely browned.

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now add the garlic, onion, and tomatoes to the pan and sauté gently for about 5 minutes before adding the bay leaf, thyme and, oregano.

Now add the white wine and increase the heat so the mixture comes to a boil.

Reduce the volume by about half then add the rabbit and season.

Reduce to a simmer, cover securely and cook gently for about 90 minutes, or until the rabbit is tender.