Andorra is a tiny landlocked country in Southwestern Europe. Nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains and a close neighbor of Spain and France, it is ranked as the sixth smallest nation in the world, with a total land area of just over 180 square miles and a population of roughly 85,000. The capital city of Andorra is Andorra la Vella, which according to World Facts is the highest capital city in all of Europe at a height of 3,356 feet above sea level. Andorra was formed as a principality in 1278, with a monarchy that is jointly shared by the Bishop of Urgell and the President of France.
Study in AndorraWritten and researched by K White
Although Andorran nationals are a plurality in Andorra, the country is very ethnically diverse. Almost half of the principality’s population hails from Spain, with large minority groups from Portugal and France, and smaller groups from Italy and the United Kingdom. Throughout the history of the country, the official language has been Catalan, a language that is used by the government in all official capacities, including education at Andorran schools. Immigration to Andorra, however, has led to a multi-lingual populace, and in certain areas of the country it is not uncommon to hear other Southern European languages being spoken. In fact, records indicate that, in addition to Catalan, the majority of Andorrans can also speak Spanish, French or Portuguese.
Over ninety-percent of Andorrans are of the Roman Catholic faith, with a minority of residents practicing Islam, Christian Congregationalism and Mormonism.
Andorra features a unique version of the Catalan culture, and is home to folk dances such as the contrapas, marratxa and the truly Catalan, saldana. The country has long been the subject of folk songs due to its isolationist stand and virtually non-existent defense budget, even intriguing the American folk legend Pete Seeger who, on his “Bitter and Sweet” album of 1962, featured the song “Andorra.”
Education in Andorra
The education system in Andorra is very diverse and compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16. The main reason for this diversity is that there are essentially three coexisting school systems in the country: French, Spanish and Andorran.
Approximately fifty-percent of Andorran students attend the French-language schools in the north of the country—schools that are partially subsidized by the French government. In the southern end, schools are predominantly Spanish, and are supported by the Roman Catholic Church. Andorran schools, which are located throughout the country, generally follow the Spanish curriculum and are overseen and administered by the Andorran government. At both Spanish and Andorran schools the language of instruction is Catalan, the official language of the country.
Enrollment at primary schools in Andorra is nearly ninety-percent according to educational records, while at secondary schools enrollment drops to approximately 70 percent—lower than in most European countries. Naturally, the French-language schools in the country follow the same curriculum used in France, but apart from the language of instruction, the curriculum at all of the primary schools (grades one through eight) and secondary schools (grades nine through twelve) in Andorra is very similar, consisting of courses such as mathematics, science, language arts, social studies, history and computer technology.
Post-secondary or tertiary education in Andorra is very limited, with less than 8 percent of the eligible population enrolled. The country has one large university that was established in 1997. However, the curriculum is very sparse, and consists almost exclusively of long-distance courses through Spanish and French universities. Andorran students who successfully complete their secondary education and are interested in pursuing recognized academic degrees at the Bachelor, Master’s or PhD level will typically enroll at universities in France and Spain, the country’s two nearest neighbors.
Andorra does offer a comprehensive nursing school and a school of computer science for those students interested in the healthcare and IT fields.