September 8 – National Day in Andorra

Posted on September 8, 2016

Our Lady of Meritxell is a statue of the patron saint of Andorra. According to legend, people found the statue under a blooming rosebush, long, long ago. They took the statue to the nearest church, the legend goes on – but the next morning it was found again under the bush! So the people called it a miracle and built a new chapel out there in the spot where the statue had been found.

Unfortunately, the original chapel burned down – and the statue with it! So replicas of the chapel and of the statue were carefully created.

The Saint Day for Our Lady of Meritxell serves as the National Day for Andorra.

For those of you asking where in the world Andorra is:

It's squished in between Spain and France, in the Pyrenees Mountains.

Andorra is a tiny country, a principality. But even though Andorra is smaller than the cities of Chicago or Los Angeles, it is only the sixth smallest nation in Europe! (Let's face it, Europe has several principalities and other sorts of “micro-states.”)

It's also a really old country. The principality was formed in 1278 – more than 700 years ago! Some nations that are younger than Andorra include the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Monaco...well—most of the countries that exist today are younger than Andorra! (Depending on your definition of “country,” San Marino, Japan, China, France, Iran, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, Thailand, Portugal, and Mongolia could claim to be older than Andorra.)

What do you do when you have a teensy, old nation tucked away high in the mountains? If you are Andorran, you probably speak Catalan, you quite possibly provide tourism services, maybe in ski resorts or duty-free shops, and you likely live a long, healthy life.* (See NOTEs below.)

Here are some things that tourists can enjoy in Andorra – along with ten MILLION other visitors every year:

  • Hiking

  • Hot Springs and Spas

  • Skiing

  • Duty-free shopping

    *  NOTE: Although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are commonly spoken in Andorra, Catalan is the nation's official language.

    Tourism is by far the largest part of Andorra's economy, accounting for about 80% of its Gross Domestic Product.

    And Andorrans have the highest life expectancy in the world, 81 years.

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