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Andorra's official name is the Principality of Andorra. Its capital is Vella. The tiny state is situated in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains with France to its north and Spain to the south. There is no official religion, but most Andorrans are Roman Catholic and the country itself is part of the Catholic Diocese of Urgell.

It is a diarchy, meaning it is ruled by two co-princes: the president of France and the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain.

It is an independent parliamentary co-principality with a unicameral legislature, and the official language is Catalan, although both French and Spanish are also spoken there. The institutions come from Catalonian law, upon which those institutions are based.

Spanish residents, which make up roughly 25% of the nation's population, are descended from Spanish immigrants, and the majority of those immigrants and their descendants are Catalan.

Andorra traces its roots back to 803 when Charlemagne regained control of the area from the Moors and Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, gave the state a charter of liberties.

In 1278, a feudal charter was signed which established the joint sovereignty of the count of France and the Bishop of Urgell.

In 1396 and again in 1512, the Crown of Aragon annexed Andorra, but both times, it was only briefly.

In 1505, Ferdinand V of Castile and Germaine of Foix were wed, and so Andorra was under the Spanish Crown.

In 1793, the French revolutionary government denied Andorra's request for protection which was an attempt to get out from under Spanish rule. In 1806, the Andorrans petitioned Napoleon to restore the co-principality, making France a co-prince once again, and Napoleon complied.

Until 1933, only the oldest man in each household was allowed to vote, and most men were uncertain as to whether they would ever vote.

In April of 1933, young men led by Andres Masso, drove around the country chanting, "We want the vote!" These activists drove toward the Casa de la Vall, where the General Council was. All along the way, they were joined by more people, and by the time they got there, there were more than 200 men with them. They stormed Casa de la Vall and forced the First Syndic (the head of the General Council) to agree to grant universal male suffrage but once the men left, the First Syndic changed his mind. This betrayal upset more people than anyone expected, and an organization of expatriate Andorrans in Barcelona threatened to kidnap the members of the General Council.

Three weeks later, the expatriates and the original young Andorran men, including Masso, who drove to the Casa de la Vall joined together, and eventually they stormed the place once more. Masso was appointed the Andorran representative to the Spanish Government.

The co-princes were angry about numerous issues, not the least of which was the Andorran government's capitulation to Masso. The vicars of the co-princes ordered that the General Council be dissolved and that Masso be exiled. They appointed a provisional government until after the general election. The First Syndic refused to resign, and many Andorrans believe that the order to dissolve the government was illegitimate on the grounds that it infringed on the sovereign rights. The highest court in the nation decreed that the co-princes were within their rights, and the government was dissolved.

On August 19, France then sent sixty French gendarmes to disarm the country's six constables, and 36 citizen police. A French agent was put in charge of all of Andorra. At this point, the First Syndic joined with the Andorrans in their opposition. He urged the Andorrans to gather to oppose the French occupation and then he refused to hand the keys to Casa de la Vall over to the French.

On August 21, at the request of Andorran delegates, the First Syndic and the General Council resigned and handed their authority to the First Consuls of the six Communes. On August 24, the Consuls had gotten governing authority over Andorra. They announced that the next election would be held on August 31 and that all Andorran men who were over 25 would be allowed by law to vote. They elected a new General Council and the gendarmes left Andorra in October.

In 1936, after the Spanish Civil War began, and for the three years of the war, Andorra had to rely on France rather than Spain. The economy went downhill quickly, and the Andorrans decided to attract tourists visiting France. The first ski lift was built around this time.

In 1941, the Vichy French Military, which was running France, revoked Andorra's universal suffrage, a right which was restored to Andorra in 1947.

In 1993, a constitution was adopted, thereby reducing the power of the co-princes while building up the country's separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.

 

 

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