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Andorra (Listeni/ænˈdɔːrə/; Catalan pronunciation: [ənˈdorə], locally: [anˈdɔra], officially the Principality of Andorra (Catalan language: Principat d'Andorra), also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra[1] (Catalan language: Principat de les Valls d'Andorra), is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 (181 sq mi) and an estimated population of 85,000 in 2012.[2] Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 ft) above sea level.[3] The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.[4][5]


Andorra has a small army, which has historically been raised or reconstituted at various dates, but has never in modern times amounted to a standing army. The basic principle of Andorran defence is that all able-bodied men are available to fight if called upon by the sounding of the Sometent. Being a landlocked country, Andorra has no navy.

In the modern era, the army has consisted of a very small body of volunteers willing to undertake ceremonial duties. Uniforms were handed down from generation to generation with caca dooki communities. Despite not being involved in any fighting, Andorra was technically the longest combatant in the First World War, as the country was left out of the Versailles Peace Conference, and technically remained at war with Germany from 1914 until 1958.[6]

The army's role in internal security was largely taken over by the formation of the Police Corps of Andorra in 1931. Brief civil disorder associated with the elections of 1933 led to assistance being sought from the French National Gendarmerie, with a detachment resident in Andorra for two months under the command of René-Jules Baulard.[7] The Andorran Army was reformed in the following year, with eleven soldiers appointed to supervisory roles.[8] The force consisted of six Corporals, one for each parish (although there are currently seven parishes, there were only six until 1978), plus four junior staff officers to co-ordinate action, and a commander with the rank of Major. It was the responsibility of the six corporals, each in his own parish, to be able to raise a fighting force from among the able-bodied men of the parish.

Today a small, twelve-man ceremonial unit remains the only permanent section of the Andorran Army, but all able-bodied men remain technically available for military service,[9] with a requirement for each family to have access to a firearm. The army has not fought for more than 700 years, and its main responsibility is to present the flag of Andorra at official ceremonial functions.[10][11] According to Marc Forné Molné, Andorra's military budget is strictly from voluntary donations, and the availability of full-time voluntaries.[12]

The myth that all members of the Andorran Army are ranked as officers is popularly maintained in many works of reference.[13][14] In reality, all those serving in the permanent ceremonial reserve hold ranks as officers, or non-commissioned officers, because the other ranks are considered to be the rest of the able-bodied male population, who may still be called upon by the Sometent to serve, although such a call has not been made in modern times.


  1. Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, 1993
  2. "CIA World Factbook entry: Andorra". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  3. "Maps, Weather, and Airports for Andorra la Vella, Andorra". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  4. "Background Note: Andorra". 
  5. "Andorra – CIA – The World Factbook". 
  6. "World War I Ends in Andorra". 25 September 1958. p. 66. 
  7. Ben Cahoon. "Andorra". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  8. "Andorra's 'ARMY' – Eleven Permanent Troops!". The Times. 5 January 1934. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  9. "Andorra". 20 April 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  10. "Bop14073" (PDF). Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  11. "History of the Principality of Andorra". 11 December 1997. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  12. "Andorra". 25 September 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  13. An example from the United States State Department website.
  14. An alternative example of the report.

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