Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 14:04 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Andorra : Overview

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Andorra : Overview, 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4954ce0823.html [accessed 16 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Environment

The Principality of Andorra is a tiny state located in the eastern Pyrenees between France and Spain.


Peoples

Main languages: Andorran (Catalan), Spanish (Castilian)

Main religions: Roman Catholicism

Minority groups include Andorrans 27,465 (36%), Portuguese 9,980 (13%) and French 5,095 (7%). Spanish citizens account for 37 per cent of the population (Andorra Statistics, 2006).

Most Spanish and French in Andorra are wealthy tax exiles. Approximately 7 per cent of the population are nationals of Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal and the UK. The Andorran language is related to Catalan. Despite the existence of a government linguistic advice service, new forms of leisure and 12 million annual tourists are eroding both language and tradition.


History

From 1278 to 1993 Andorra was a co-principality, its joint sovereigns being the French President and the bishop of the nearby Spanish town of Seu d'Urgell. Andorra's new Constitution of 1993 gave it independence but allowed the co-princes a veto over treaties affecting borders and security.


Governance

It is extremely difficult to gain Andorran citizenship, although the 1995 Law on Nationality is less restrictive than the 1939 law. The main means for foreign citizens to gain Andorran nationality are through marriage to an Andorran or by establishing their main residence in Andorra for 25 years. A major disincentive to acquiring Andorran nationality is that any other nationalities must be revoked. A reform reducing the number of years before foreigners can qualify for nationality is being drafted.

Foreigners cannot vote, own businesses or join unions or political parties.

In 2002 the government adopted an immigration policy setting quotas and favouring Spanish and French immigrants, then those from other European Union countries, then those from the European Economic Area. In 2007 the government created an interministerial committee to ensure the welfare of five Eritreans who were given safe haven for 90 days and the option of seeking asylum. The committee will oversee any further permissions for refugees to enter the country.

There is prejudice against Portuguese and Arab residents and migrants.


Current state of minorities and indigenous peoples

Although 59 per cent of the population speak Castilian Spanish, 79 per cent of public administration is conducted in Andorran (Catalan). The government provides a language advice service on how to learn Catalan. Some government and public agency websites have versions in other languages, notably English, Spanish or French.

Migration issues are the subject of public debates and opinion surveys. A survey conducted in 2004 showed a majority of the population, both Andorran and foreign, in favour of giving foreigners the vote in general elections, while there were equal numbers for and against foreigners standing for election.

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