Situated in the mountains between Spain and France, it’s easy to forget about Andorra, one of the smallest states in Europe. Because of its duty-free shopping, winter sports and hot summers, it is a popular destination for the eight million tourists that visit annually. Travelers enter the country from either France or Spain, since it has no airport. The following facts and figures in Andorra paint a picture of prosperity and ongoing challenges.
- Andorra doesn’t get much press. This may be due to the small population (less than 100,000), and the actual area of the country is only about two-and-a-half times the size of Washington, D.C.
- Most of the country’s GDP comes from tourism and investments. The majority of employed individuals work in a service-industry position. The population enjoys a high standard of living. In 2016, unemployment was 3.7 percent. Poverty statistics are currently unavailable.
- Andorra has six major political parties. Additionally, there are several smaller parties at the parish level.
- Despite being so small, It also has a higher per-capita income than both Spain and France. It was a tax haven until France and Spain opened its borders. Andorra has no external debt.
- Andorra imports all of its food. Only 5.5 percent of its land is arable.
- Andorra is not without problems. One concern is affordable housing. While most of the housing in the country is new, it is also scarce. A look at lucasfox.com shows properties selling from 200,000 Euros ($228,000 USD) to well over a million Euros ($1,141,000 USD). Amendments to residency requirements have recently been made in order to open the market. It used to be a person buying property in Andorra had to have lived there for at least 20 years. Locals continue to live with their families in farmhouses.
- Environmental concerns included solid waste disposal, deforestation and overgrazing.
- In terms of health, nearly a third of the population is obese. According to 2014 statistics, 8.1 percent of its GDP (an estimated $3.327 billion as of 2015) was spent on health. Life expectancy is 82.8 years.
- Andorra is looking to attract foreign investing. Before 2008, non-residents could own 33 percent of a company. After living in the country 20 years, they could then own 100 percent of a company. This was due to concerns about foreign ownership on the economy.
As these facts and figures in Andorra show, it is a peaceful, small country as a retirement haven, or for those looking for an out-of-the-way skiing vacation.
– Gloria Diaz