History of Andorra: Facts and timeline | Ordino Arcalís

If deciding to go on a ski holiday in Andorra, you’ll be visiting one of the most unique and special places in all of Europe. Located in the heart of the Pyrenees, this principality boasts much more than just ski resorts, given that there is also a lot of culture, tradition and Andorra history packed in to this microstate.

Whether you’re interested in the history of Andorra or not, it’s impossible to avoid the sense that you’re visiting a centuries-old site that is steeped in tradition. You’ll come across a lot of Andorra history while you’re skiing in Andorra in person, but it might also be worth reading up on a brief history of Andorra before setting off to the microstate, from questions such as how old is Andorra to who rules Andorra and more.

In this short guide to the history of Andorra, we’ll break down some of these answers so that you can arrive on the Andorra ski slopes already understanding some of the most important aspects of the history of the region.

History of Andorra

History of Andorra’s sovereignty: Was Andorra part of Spain? Why is Andorra independent?

One of the first things that people ask when researching this unique place is the matter of is Andorra a country on its own, meaning is it a sovereign nation. And yes, Andorra is a sovereign nation.

It is officially a parliamentary co-principality, which means it has two princes and these are the Bishop of Urgell and the president of France. Currently, the Bishop of Urgell is Joan Enric Vives and the president of France is Emmanuel Macron.

It should be pointed out that one of the main explanations for why Andorra is independent is that the Andorran people wanted to elect their own rulers and they do so through a system of parliamentary representative democracy, and the current prime minister of Andorra is Xavier Espot Zamora. He is the seventh different elected prime minister in the history of Andorra and has been in office since 2019.

Andorra is independent and, although many wonder was Andorra part of Spain, it was never formally annexed to Spain, nor to France. But, the political influence of neighbouring Spain and France has been significant over the years.

Andorra history facts: When was Andorra founded? How old is Andorra?

In terms of how old Andorra is, the history of Andorra stetches back well over 1,000 years, with the first document to refer to Andorra being the act of consecration of the Cathedral of Santa María d’Urgell in the middle of the ninth century. Even before then, there were people who settled in the land that we now refer to as Andorra.

In the 13th century, treaties known as the Pareatges were signed to establish shared sovereignty over Andorra and this is what led to the co-principality status, with the Bishop of Urgell and the French head of state being the co-princes and, for seven centuries, they were the answer to the question of who rules Andorra.

The late 20th century was an important time in the history of Andorra, as some significant changes took place. There was a separation of powers in 1982 as the Govern d'Andorra was born, with the co-princes’ approval and with Òscar Ribas Reig becoming the first prime minister in Andorra history.

There was another major development in 1993, when a referendum was held to approve a new constitution, before elections were held later in the year. Also in 1993, Andorra joined the United Nations and both Spain and France set up embassies in the microstate. This was a big step forward and, as a result of this, the answer to who owns Andorra is now the Andorran people.

Andorra flag history: What is the brief history of Andorra and its flag?

The current flag of Andorra is a vertical tricolour of blue, yellow and red, with the Andorran coat of arms in the middle. Experts in Andorra flag history say that this was first adopted in 1866, although it wasn’t until the country joined the United Nations in 1993 that the design was standardised.

An earlier version of the Andorran flag, used from 1806 to 1866, was just yellow and red, split half and half vertically