Andorra Struggles With COVID-19 ResponseAndorra, one of Europe’s smallest and oldest countries, does not boast full European Union membership. Instead, sandwiched between Spain and France’s 11,000 foot high Pyrenees borders, Andorra relies on integrating relations with the two countries. Yet, as Andorra’s economy and demographics differ greatly from most of the European Union, Andorra has a unique agreement with the body of countries. Unfortunately, lacking full E.U. membership and the benefits this includes, Andorra has faced struggles with their COVID-19 response.

A Unique Agreement With the European Union

As evidenced by the recent Brexit controversy, E.U. membership comes with positive and negative aspects. Entry challenges proved a significant hurdle for Andorra; therefore, it initially did not join the union. Only after the 2008 recession did Andorra arrange a special agreement with the European Union, like other European micro-states.

Due to tourism, the country’s main economic draw, and Andorra’s location on a map, some economic realities have been unavoidable. After 2008, Andorra began using the Euro and entered trade agreements slashing tariffs. However, unlike the rest of Europe, Andorra continued to restrict individual taxes. This branded the small country as a hot spot for tax evasion. This caveat kept Andorra afloat but alienated the country from the rest of Europe. Due to international pressure in 2011, the country began moving towards international tax standards.

Even though it lacks full European Union membership, Andorra still retains membership in the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Does Andorra qualify for European Union aid?

Full European Union member countries qualify for aid programs. The European Union, like most international institutions, provided large amounts of COVID-19 aid–37 billion Euros in the initial program to be exact. Individual countries qualify for an additional 100 billion from the E.U. for employment assistance.

However, Andorra’s partial membership benefits to the European Union are limited to:

  1. The customs union, which is a group of countries that have agreed to charge the same import duties as each other and allow free trade between themselves.
  2. Tariff exemption to void taxes imposed by a government on goods and services imported from countries outside of the European Union.
  3. Euro use for stable and standardized currency.
  4. Access to name and tax databases.

COVID-19 in Andorra

As Andorra’s place in the European Union is unclear, so is its ability to receive COVID-19 aid. It appears that Andorra cannot and has not accessed any European Union COVID-19 aid. As neighboring Spain and France have done, Andorra implemented specific travel limitations. Uniquely, its rules included odd and even-numbered homes taking turns with short exercise periods.

Poverty in Andorra

The tough situation created by COVID-19 shutdowns and the ambiguous nature of Andorra’s relationship with the European Union have left the country exposed to further poverty. Unlike countries with widespread extreme poverty, Andorra’s poverty is specific to immigrant labor unemployment during tourism lulls and the housing crisis. Both of which, when paired with COVID-19, have the potential to drastically increase Andorra’s 4% poverty rate.

As of now, Andorra continues to encounter additional struggles with their COVID-19 response. As the post-2008 trend of strengthening relationships between Andorra and the E.U. continues, more poverty prevention aid will hopefully find its way to this small, land-locked country.

– Rory Davis
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in AndorraAndorra is a small principality nestled between Spain and France, with a population of 77,000 people. Famous for its ski resorts and status as a tax haven, Andorra also happens to have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Andorra.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Andorra

  1. Andorrans live to 83 years on average. According to the CIA, the country has the ninth highest life expectancy in the world. While the life expectancy of male Andorrans is 80.8 years, female Andorran life expectancy is 85.4 years.
  2. The culture of Andorra encourages exercise and physical activity. Andorra’s mountainous terrain has fostered a culture of physical fitness. Hiking, skiing and other recreational activities are commonplace in Andorra.
  3. Andorra has one of the best public health care systems in the world. Around 75 percent of outpatient medical care is reimbursed. About 90 percent of hospital expenses are reimbursed too.
  4. Infant mortality in Andorra is declining. According to UNICEF data, the current under-5 infant mortality rate in Andorra is 2.9 out of 1,000 live births. This is a significant improvement from the rate in 1990, where 10.8 infants out of 1,000 live births died.
  5. Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) is the leading preventable cause of premature death in Andorra. IHD is caused by a buildup in the arteries, which restricts blood flow into the heart. In the long term, IHD can lead to a heart attack. According to a WHO report, while tobacco usage and high blood pressure rate are going down, obesity is on the rise in Andorra as more people are consuming fast foods. Still, the majority of the population maintains a Mediterranean diet with the following staples: lean meat, vegetables and olive oil.
  6. The entire population of Andorra has access to an improved water source. However, the overall surface water quality does give rise to some concerns. In 2017, the Andorran Ministry of Environment reported that 86 percent of surface water in Andorra was of high quality, while 8 percent was of acceptable quality, 3 percent of poor quality and 3 percent of very poor quality.
  7. Every citizen in Andorra has access to improved sanitation facilities. Since 1996, Andorra installed four wastewater purification plants. The wastewater purification plants purify almost 100 percent of sewage in Andorra.
  8. The immunization rate in Andorra is very high. According to the WHO, Andorra has a general vaccination rate of 99 percent. Early childhood diseases such as measles, HepB3 and rubella are some of the most common diseases that Andorran kids get vaccinated for.
  9. The physician density of Andorra is 3.33 physicians per 1,000 people. This causes some concerns since this is a drop from 2010, which had 4 physicians per 1,000 people. In addition, the current physician density in Andorra is below the E.U. average, which is around 3.5 physicians per 1,000 people.
  10. Crime is nearly “nonexistent” in Andorra. There is one prison with a few dozen inmates, bringing peace of mind to citizens of the small state. Andorran diplomat, Juli Minoves, said it best in 2008: “I think that gives a lot of peace of mind to people. I think there is a psychological factor here, a feeling of safeness that people start to absorb from the moment they are born. Plus, there is a long tradition of democracy, of solving conflict in an amicable way.”

Lifestyle factors, a safe environment and access to excellent health care are the main contributors to an exceptionally high life expectancy rate in Andorra. A close-knit sense of community among Andorrans also contributes to a happy and healthy way of life in the European country.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Education in Andorra

Positioned between the Spanish territory and France, Andorra occupies a small territory of 180 square miles. Considered to be one of the smallest countries in the world, its current population is approximately 77,000 people.

Regardless of its size, Andorra positions as the 191st largest export economy around the globe, making the European country a privileged one, in terms of its relationship with countries around the world as well as the European Union. Thus, Andorra uses the Euro as its national currency and carries a special relationship with the U.N.

In 1982, the Andorran education system was implemented. This system helped built a strong school system that is now recognized as one of the best in the world, due to its language variety and free schooling up until high school.

As a country that borders France and Spain, its citizens speak mainly Catalan – a dialect of Spanish – as well as Spanish and French. Thus, education in Andorra is divided into those three languages. French-speaking, Spanish and Catalan schools are the three schooling options for students to choose from. It is well known that 50 percent of students study in French-focused schools, whilst the other half is divided between the Catalan and Spanish schools.

Added to the fact that education has three different options in regards to language, education in Andorra is also divided between public, private and state-funded private schools – which can be described as a middle option that lies between public and private education. This schooling system is similar to the one in Spain, due to the proximity of the countries and the overall similarities between them. With the same schooling system as Spain, Andorra‘s public school system is completely funded by the state, yet the teachers are paid by Spain and France.

A downside to the education in Andorra is the fact that there is only one university in the whole country, the University of Andorra. Thus, most students attend college in either France or Spain after they graduate high school, mostly depending on the language and school they previously chose to attend.

Overall, the school system and education in Andorra is one of the most surprising in the world. Such a small country is able to divide its school system into up to three languages as well as three different economy-based schools and high schools, giving opportunities to all citizens to be able to study and afford a quality education whilst doing so.

Paula Gibson

Photo: Pixabay

Why Is Andorra Poor? A Resolved Issue or Still at Risk?

Although Andorra is a part of Europe, this small chunk of land skirts above the poverty line. Andorrans narrowly avoid poverty through trade alone, meaning one decision or mistake could lead people to ask: why is Andorra poor?

Andorra‘s independence has successfully lasted about 150 years, yet only five percent of their land is arable. Andorrans rely on Spain for 63.6% of consumer goods, food, fuel and electricity, while France provides them with 15.8% and Germany 3.1% of their resources. Andorra imports a total of 82.5% of these resources that are necessary for survival.

Without trade, Andorra would fall drastically below the poverty line because the land cannot support the population. Furthermore, Andorra does not contain an airport, thus they can only rely on neighboring countries for imported goods. If Andorra built an airport and made trade connections with multiple countries, it would not be as vulnerable.

Luckily, Andorra has made other improvements to help it remain above the poverty line, such as a recent decline in their unemployment rate from 4.1% in 2015 to 3.7% in 2016. The infant mortality rate has also fallen from seven per 1,000 in 1990 to three per 1,000 in 2012.

Andorra’s basic education remains free for residents and they provide three different school systems to address the various language barriers. They have an Andorran, French and Spanish school system. The diversity in education allows greater access for children to become educated, leading to economic success.

It is not as if Andorrans have not considered the disadvantages of their trade-reliant society. In 2006, “the Andorran government began sweeping economic reforms,” hoping for economic growth. The government also passed foreign investment laws in both 2008 and 2012.

Andorrans live prosperously, while also hoping they will never be asked: why is Andorra poor?

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Andorra

Mountains draw people to the European microstate of Andorra, which offers the best skiing and resorts in the Pyrenees. Prior to World War II and the modernization of Andorra, subsistence agriculture was the dominant industry, even though its mountainous geography is not conducive to large agricultural gain. After the war and the integration of Europe, Andorra quickly modernized and moved toward a lucrative service economy based on tourism. Today, with the rise of the tourism industry, agriculture makes up a small proportion of Andorra‘s industry. Most families own hotels, restaurants and other businesses rather than supporting themselves through farming, greatly increasing their quality of life and wealth.

Andorra has a very low poverty rate due to its booming service economy fueled by its tourism industry. Over 95% of people work in the service industry and only 3.7% of people were unemployed as of 2016. Poverty is so low that the percentage of the population below the poverty line is not measured. One can help people in Andorra stay out of poverty by supporting the Andorran tourism industry, thus sustaining Andorra’s equitable living standards and strong economy, with the added benefit of exploring Andorra’s culture in its beautiful Pyrenees location.

As of 2016, Andorra’s population was 77,281. Its GDP from the year prior was $3.327 billion. Its GDP per capita from 2015 was $49,900, making it the twenty-fifth wealthiest nation in the world as of 2015. These figures show the country’s strength and the lack of direct need to help people in Andorra.

Although there is not a crucial need for foreigners to help people in Andorra, it is important to maintain the success of Andorra, which can only continue by foreigners continuing to visit Andorra and support its tourism industry — an enjoyable way for one to help Andorrans.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in AndorraAndorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe, residing between the French and Spanish borders. In recent years, Andorra has become a tourist destination, drawing in more than eight million visitors every year. This tourism is due to the country’s winter sports, a summer climate and an international commercial center for shopping. For the people who live in Andorra, preventable disease acts as one of their leading causes of death. Below are some of the most common diseases in Andorra:

Ischemic Heart Disease
One of the most common diseases in Andorra is ischemic heart disease (IHD). IHD occurs when blood flow is restricted in the body and arteries in the heart become narrowed. When heart arteries are narrowed, the victims of this disease have less blood transported to the heart and can ultimately lead to a heart attack.

About 22 percent of Andorrans suffer from IHD, and it is the leading preventable cause of death in Andorra. The disease has become more prevalent in recent years due to increased economic prosperity, allowing people to live a more sedentary lifestyle. In fact, there has been a 43 percent increase in the past twenty years of the occurrence of IHD.

Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the third most common disease in Andorra. The disease is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in the lungs and has the potential to spread to other regions of the body. This spread can compromise other organs in the body, leading to death. Currently, six percent of Andorrans suffer from lung cancer, which is a 36 percent increase from when it was last measured in 1990.

Andorra suffers from this disease due to preventable actions. About 44 percent of males and 28 percent of females in Andorra smoke tobacco products on a regular basis, which is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Even though the knowledge about the dangers of this disease are well-documented and known throughout the country, many individuals do not take the proper actions to avoid lung cancer.

Diabetes
Due to the economic prosperity of Andorra, food is easily available in the country, often leading to diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that affects a person’s ability to produce or use insulin. This inability to use insulin can cause a surplus of blood sugar in the body. Prolonged exposure to increased levels of blood sugar causes a person suffering from diabetes to risk getting kidney disease, heart disease and blindness.

Currently, three percent of Andorrans suffer from diabetes. Similarly to lung cancer, although many know of the risks associated with diabetes, many individuals do not take the proper actions to avoid the disease.

The most common diseases in Andorra are also the most preventable ones. Proper diet, exercise and the avoidance of intoxicants are one method that an individual can avoid a higher chance of getting any of the above illnesses. Although the information on these diseases is well known, many in Andorra have not taken steps to avoid them.

Nicholas Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in AndorraAndorra is a small nation in Europe, landlocked between the French and Spanish borders. For the majority of the country’s history, both French and Spanish leaders ran the government. This form of rule continued until 1993, when the feudal system that ran the nation was modified, leaving the co-princes of the nation to work alongside a parliamentary democracy to execute the rule of the country.

The Poverty Rate in Andorra

Before World War II, the majority of the citizens in Andorra lived in the same way they did in the Middle Ages. They primarily survived on small-scale farming and smuggling. In the modern day, this trend persists, and many citizens continue to live in old farmhouses from this era in history.

The subsequent increase in European tourism in the 1950s aided the country in developing its more rural regions. As tourism increased, old farm houses and undeveloped land became family hotels and restaurants, allowing for people in a lower income bracket to participate in the economy. When measured in 1996, Andorra had a GDP per capita of $18,000, which was higher than its neighbor, Spain.

The service-based economy has proven to be effective at maintaining a low poverty rate in Andorra. When measured in 1998, the country had a 1.62 percent rate of inflation. This low inflation rate and participation in the country’s economy have allowed even the poorest people to have a high standard of living. No extreme cases of poverty have been recorded in the country in recent history.

The Takeaway

Andorra is a country that made the most of the increased tourism in Europe after World War II. By allowing its citizens to convert their small farms into business, the poverty rate in Andorra has managed to remain low. Other European nations that have small economies should emulate the model that Andorra practices due to its effectiveness in maintaining a low poverty rate.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in AndorraAndorra is a country with a population of around 85,000 and currently has a constitutional parliamentary democracy as its form of government. In recent years, the migrant population in Andorra has dramatically increased. This increase has caused many in the nation to consider the current state of human rights in the country, as in the past they were not ideal for women and religious minorities.

Arrest Procedures
In many countries that suffer from continual human rights violations, one symptom of this suffering takes the form of its citizens being unlawfully arrested. Andorra has laws that require police to have a warrant for an arrest. Also, Andorra police must release detainees after 48 hours if they are not charged with a crime.

Women’s Rights
One way to evaluate human rights in a country is to examine the treatment of women. Andorra was the tenth country to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which targets violence against women and created a plan to fight against domestic abuse. The treaty defines the various methods of violence used against women and prohibits them by law. Thus, human rights in Andorra are on the rise because of its support for women’s rights described in the Istanbul Convention.

Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution of Andorra states that the country’s citizens have the right to freedom of speech and the press. The restriction of these human rights in Andorra is punishable by law. The Andorran government recognizes how important the collaboration of the press and the government is to ensure the human rights of its citizens.

The Takeaway
The primary markers of human rights are how people are treated in court, how women are treated in society and if the citizens of a country are allowed to practice freedom of speech. The people of Andorra are fortunate to live in a country that guarantees these fundamental rights in their constitution. The continued effort to enforce these laws ensuring human rights in Andorra proves that it is a leader in human rights and an example to other nations.

Nicholas Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

AndorraSituated 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Andorra has six major political parties. Additionally, there are several smaller parties at the parish level.
  4. 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.
  5. Andorra imports all of its food. Only 5.5 percent of its land is arable.
  6. 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.
  7. Environmental concerns included solid waste disposal, deforestation and overgrazing.
  8. 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.
  9. 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

Photo: Pixabay

Water Quality in AndorraLocated just between France and Spain lies the principality of Andorra, a small country taking up only 468 square kilometers. With a GNI per capita of $46,650, one might assume that the nation’s water quality is top notch. However, this is not completely true, and only quite recently has water quality in Andorra seen significant improvement.

The country’s work on wastewater purification began in 1996. Since then, four water purification plants have been built in Andorra. Additionally, the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Sustainable Development in Andorra monitors the country’s water quality by sampling at various time intervals among 37 stations.

The Ministry also actively conducts practical work on the extraction of solid wastes from rivers. Just last year, over 17 thousand tons of refuse were extracted from the Andorran river systems.

As of March 2017, the Ministry reported that the volume of high-quality surface waters in the country was about 86 percent, while eight percent was of acceptable quality, three percent was of poor quality and the remaining three percent was of very poor quality.

By comparison, only 40 percent of surface waters in Andorra were  high quality in 2005. Silvia Calvó, the Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Sustainable Development in Andorra, stated that the country currently purifies nearly 100 percent of their sewage.

The rising water quality not only improves the drinking water for citizens, but it also helps restore river fauna habitats. The otter populations are also rising within the Andorran ecosystem.

Although it is recommended that tourists drink bottled water until their immune systems adjust to some small concentrations of E. coli that may be present in their water supply, Andorra’s citizens safely consume the water. Andorra has clearly been dedicated to cleaning their water supply through home-grown programs such as the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Sustainable Development in Andorra. Because of this, water quality in Andorra has improved remarkably within past decades.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr