ANDORRA Also ANDORRE (Fr). In full, Valls d’Andorra (Catalan).
Tiny Catalan-speaking independent state on the southern slopes of the east central Pyrenees.
Andorra was a district in the old Spanish March of the Frankish Kingdom. It later belonged to the County of Urgel, but in the 13th century was disputed between the Counts and the Bishops of Urgel, on the Spanish side of the mountains, and the Vicomtes of Castelbon (and later their successors, the Counts of Foix) on the other side. In 1278, the Bishop of Urgel and the Count of Foix, taking advantage of the youth and doubtful legitimacy of the then Count of Urgel, made an agreement to respect each other’s rights in Andorra, and set up a princely condominium over the land they had previously disputed. Against whatever odds might have been offered by some 13th century Ladbrokes, that condominium still survives, though modified in 1993.
The Count of Foix became King of Navarre in 1479, the King of Navarre became King of France in 1589, and where the King of France once reigned is now the President of the French Republic, but he still shares the sovereignty of the Principality of Andorra with the Bishop of Urgel. Their representatives in Andorra, the Viguiers, retained certain responsibilities for law and order and the administration of justice until 1993; otherwise the Andorrans ruled themselves, through a Council of 28 members representing the seven parishes of Andorra, the Council appointing a Head of Government.
A new Constitution in 1993 vested the sovereignty of Andorra in its people, though the President of France and the Bishop of Urgel continue as joint heads of state. The principal changes put justice firmly into Andorran control and allowed Andorra control over foreign policy, though the heads of state retain a veto over any treaty made by Andorra with either France or Spain that affects the borders or security of the Co-Principality.