Sunday, July 20, 2008

May 4th, 2008, Over the top...

The smallest state in the USA is Rhode Island. At 1,045 square miles however, Rhode Island is more than 2-1/2 times the size of Andorra, a tiny landlocked country between France and Spain, high in the eastern Pyrenees. The population of Andorra in turn, is less than that of the Northern Mariana Islands and indigenous Andorrans apparently are a minority in their own country, being outnumbered by the Spanish, the French and even the English expatriates.
Folk lore has it, that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in the 8th century, in return for their fighting against the Moors, who were trying to invade France from Spain. A skeptic might believe that the provision of a buffer zone against subsequent
attacks might have been a more likely motive, but that might be cynical. Anyway, for the next brief 500 years, the ownership of Andorra followed the fortunes of various incestuous royal marriages and political intrigues finally degenerating to a point where hostilites were imminent. Thus it was, that in 1278 the conflict was resolved by sharing the principality between a Spanish bishop and a French count.
Amazingly, for the next 700 years, the 70,000 Andorrans were kept in relative serfdom by the Church in Spain and a French administration that generally had bigger fish to fry. All that changed however, with the development of the European Economic Union. Andorra finally threw off the medieval shackles of the external "princes" and joined the 20th century. Tourism now accounts for 80% of the gross national product and practically every money making enterprise in the country seems to have been built in the last fifteen years. Click here to see more. The annual gross national product of Andorra is now up to three days of Wal-mart sales.

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