Andorra Sunny Tara

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England is a fortunate country is that we tend to be very interested and eager to learn from other countries. Let’s see what we can learn from our international neighbours, and learn some interesting facts at the same time!

Andorra is one of the world’s smallest countries, nestled in between France and Spain, with a population of around 80,000 (roughly the same population as Carlisle or Rugby). Known for its ski resorts, it attracts millions of visitors, due to keeping the area so beautiful, without tacky tourist gimmicks. The only country on earth where the official language is Catalan (different to Spanish), most people also speak other languages (mostly French, Spanish and Portuguese).

Andorra has no airport

This is more by accident as the country is small and mountainous (so likely done more for safety), so instead people fly to Spain and then drive or take the train into the country. We obviously have a few airports, but all sustainability experts say there is no need for any more runways at Heathrow or Luton (which already has bad reviews, and needs to be improved, not expanded).

Andorra has a very high life expectancy

The Andorra people live very healthy lives with good food, fresh air and natural exercise (they also ski at lot!) Surprisingly there are a few branches of McDonald’s, but it’s interesting that their menu is dictated by what people eat – so instead of McFlurries, locals buy fruit skewers and carrot cake.

Andorra has no standing army

Neutral during World War II, Andorra (like Costa Rica) does not need to spend money on defence budgets, as it doesn’t go to war or invade other countries. There is an agreed treaty so that France and Spain would offer protection if needed, but domestic funds are instead spent on other things. Andorra has not been to war for over 1000 years.

Andorra has many museums per person

Andorra (apart from the self-governing New Zealand island of Niue) has more museums on earth per person. We have museums in England, but not all are free and it’s not exactly ‘your average day out’ unlike in Andorra. Considering the age of England’s history, it’s surprising more people are not fans.

they have two princes (who get on)

Unlike the public media arguments here between our two main princes, in Andorra, the country is ruled by two princes who not only get on well, but neither are local. It’s all a bit complicated as they are not real princes either – one is the Bishop of Urgell and the other is the President of France! It’s a bit bonkers, as this means that one of their rulers is elected by voters in another country! And the other elected by the Pope in Rome! Having said that, many people think it odd that we are ruled over by a family that was never elected either!

Andorra has no national bank or currency

Andorra has no national currency (it uses the Euro) but also has no national bank. Even the government has to use private banks. In England we have many high street banks, but there are a few greener banks to switch to (takes 10 minutes) that spend money on better things like clean energy and organic farming. Interestingly despite using the Euro, Andorra is not part of the EU.

Andorra also had a self-proclaimed ‘world king’

Just like our previous Prime Minister Boris Johnson who proclaimed he would like to be ‘world king’ one day (and did not appear to respect the responsibilities that came with the job), in 1934, Russian swindler Boris Skossyreff proclaimed himself Boris I (King of Andorra) and declared war on the Bishop of Urgell (one of Andorra’s co-princes, see above). However, the Bishop arrested him and threw him out of the country! He ended up serving 25 years in a Siberian camp before being released and dying in his 90s.

what not to learn from Andorra

People in Andorra smoke more cigarettes than anyone on earth, and smoking indoors is still allowed (say in cafes and hotels). How that equates with the longevity nobody is quite sure, but perhaps it’s due to a balance of all the other healthy lifestyle choices.

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