Lifestyle & Travel

Oct 15, 2018

ANDORRA

The Andorra's Principality is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It's a territory with only 468m2 covered by valleys, mountains, forests, lakes and much life, in the summer and winter months, adapting the offer of the country to the needs of its tourists.

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Located in the Pyrenees, it borders Spain (Farda de Moles) and France (Pas de la Casa), Andorra gained its independence in the year of 1278, having from an early stage dictated its own rules and governance moods. It's in this country, that we can find the oldest parliament in the world, founded in 1419 – The Consell de la Terra – now called the Consell General d'Andorra, is where the legislative power is located. 

Since 1993, the country has been governed by parliamentary democracy, where the chief of government is elected by the legislature – the General Council of Valleys – with only 28 deputies. The chiefs of state, or co-princes, are the President of the French Republic and the bishop of the Catalan region of La Seu d'Urgell.

Andorra has seven local administrations: Andorra-a-Velha (capital), Canillo, Ordino, Encamp, La Massana, Escaldes-Engordany and Sant Julià de Lòria. These "parishes", as they are also known, make up 5% of the construed territory of the country that is opposed to the 95% of natural territory that is consisted by mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and long green meadows. For this reason, 10% of its territory is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It is in this context that we can find various sports, tourism and even economic activities of the region that make this "little piece of land", one of the most popular by tourists from around the world. In fact, tourism is the economic activity that accounts for most of the country's GDP, also fostered by more than 1,000 local shops and commercial areas that, in such a small territory, have a large attendance. Government policies also focus on local products, tend to boost the country's economy, with the aim of enhancing local products and, through the added value created, to promote a tourism of excellence.

Among of the local products, wine is an ex-libris of the country. Between the two thousand-meter-high mountains, lakes and a strong Mediterranean influence, we can find several vineyards. In ancient times, winemaking was a very common activity, but with the appearance of phylloxera the vines were abandoned. A few years ago, local winemakers again bet on planting vines, repositioning the Andorran wine in national and international trade.

Another of its important productions is tobacco. For years, this was an economic activity for the country especially in Sant Julià de Lòria where, at present, still can be founded numerous plantations and also the Tobacco Museum. In this museum is shown step-by-step the entire confection, from the arrival of the sheet to customs control. Interestingly, this museum is interactive, promoting a strong connection to new technologies.

As we have refered, Andorra is a country with a temperate Mediterranean climate. Therefore, there is a strong division of the summer and winter months, in which, respectively, the temperatures are hotter and colder, promoting different types of tourism throughout the year. Of course, between valleys and mountains, you won't find a landscape as the beaches of Sydney, but we assure you that the nature that surrounds this site is breathtaking for any traveller.

In the mild season between the months of June and August, get lost in the immensity of nature and pure air. During this period, horseback riding, hiking through parks and nature reserves, practicing cycling activities and walking between the 60 mountain routes through which you can travel the country, from one end to another (the Great Route of the Country). In these adventures along the wonderful cliffs, let yourself stay overnight and enjoy the nocturnal nature.

In winter, especially between the months of January and March, you can ski for more than 300 km of Grandvalira, Vallnord and Naturlandia lanes with a cable car ride between all of them and up to Pas de la Casa. When skiing on these slopes, know that you are snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing or any other sport in the largest ski area in southern Europe. Do you already know what sport you will practise?

Also in Andorra, and in a more playful way, you can walk on the world's largest sliding – Tobotronc – with 5km of course, in the Naturlandia's park, in the forest of La Rabassa. Or, if you prefer to relax, stay in Caldea, the largest thermal centre in southern Europe.

Despite being in Spanish territory, Andorra is not a member of the European Union. It is an isolated country whose traditions, customs and history are still deeply rooted and visible in the country's architectural, communication and industry constructions. The consequent evolution of the means of transport and communication, based on the great tourist demand and also by the strong European influence are bringing new forms of being in Andorra that, gradually, has come out of its valley gaining a new positioning to the world.

So, whether you are alone or accompanied, come get to know this "piece of land" and, among valleys, mountains, blue lakes and white snow, let yourself be enchanted by one of the most coveted tourist trips.

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