Andorra is a small country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, with an estimated population of 83,888 in 2009. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, French, and Portuguese are also commonly spoken.
The Principality was formed in 1278. The role of monarch is exercised jointly by the two co-princes, the President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia, Spain. This peculiarity makes the President of France, in his capacity as Prince of Andorra, the only reigning monarch actually elected in regular intervals by vote, the vote being that of another country at that!
Andorra is a prosperous country mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and also because of its status as a tax haven. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the de facto currency.
In the cover above, there are four definitives of different denominations, each showing the Andorran coat of arms with different colors as backgrounds. The stamp to the far right celebrates the 2009 Tour de France, which passed through six countries, one of which was Andorra.
The 2009 Tour de France started on 4 July in the principality of Monaco with a 15 kilometrer individual time trial which included a section of the Circuit de Monaco. The race visited six countries: Monaco, France, Spain, Andorra, Switzerland and Italy, and finished on 26 July on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The winner of this Tour de France is Alberto Contador, who won by a margin of 4′11″. Contador also won the 2007 Tour de France.
This cover is courtesy of a new philatelic friend, Jean-Pierre, who travels the world extensively and is kind enough to send me a cover from the exciting places he visits. This is the first of many covers from hard-to-obtain countries that I will be posting in the near future.