Towards The Present Day
The Principality was originally divided into six parishes, each essentially having its own sovereign rights.
In the 1960s, the capital expanded so rapidly that a decision was made to split it into two separate parishes:
Andorra la Vella's north-eastern suburb of Escaldes-Engordany was thus awarded the status of an independent parish; so now there are a total of seven parishes, each with a local government called a Comu (commune).
Four representatives from each Comu, each elected to a four-year term, make up a central Consell General (the General Council). This Consell General then elect an executive head of government (called the Cap d'Govern) and an executive known as the Syndic, who performs a role similar to a Speaker of Parliament.
The Cap d'Govern then elects the ministers.
The seat of government is the attractive Casa de la Vall in the heart of the capital.
A Modern Constitution
On 14 March 1993, a modern constitution was ratified and Andorra became a fully independent state and the 184th member of the UN. The Co-Princes now only ‘advise, consult and protect’ as official joint Heads of State.
The state is now a member of the Council of Europe, but not of the European Union and so is free to maintain its unusual fiscal and duty-free status. It is the only country in the world to have Catalan as its official first language, a language which has experienced an important renaissance driven by the economic and cultural strength of Spain's Catalan capital, Barcelona.
Andorra benefits greatly from its geographical and constitutional position in this historic and powerful region, absorbing the greater part of regional influence from Catalunya in Spain, whilst still having the President of France as a ceremonial joint Head of State; in the centre of a political and economic power base, yet at an uniquely advantageous remove from it.