Economy of Andorra
Andorra's GDP in 2007 was $3.66 billion (CIA), with tourism as its principal component. Attractive for shoppers from France and Spain as a free port, the country also has developed active summer and winter tourist resorts. With some 270 hotels and 400 restaurants, as well as many shops, the tourist trade employs a growing portion of the domestic labour force. An estimated 13 million tourists visit annually.
There is a fairly active trade in consumer goods, including imported manufactured items, which, because they are duty-free, are less expensive in Andorra than in neighboring countries. Andorra's duty-free status also has had a significant effect on the controversy concerning its relationship with the European Union. Its negotiations on duty-free status and relationship with the Union began in 1987, soon after Spain joined. An agreement that went into effect in July 1991 sets duty-free quotas and places limits on certain items-mainly milk products, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages. Andorra is permitted to maintain price differences from other EU countries, and visitors enjoy limited duty-free allowances.
The results of Andorra's elections thus far indicate that many support the government's reform initiatives and believe Andorra must, to some degree, integrate into the European Union in order to continue to enjoy its prosperity. Although less than 2% of the land is arable, agriculture was the mainstay of the Andorran economy until the upsurge in tourism. Sheep raising has been the principal agricultural activity, but tobacco growing is lucrative. Most of Andorra's food is imported.
In addition to handicrafts, manufacturing includes cigars, cigarettes, and furniture for domestic and export markets. A hydroelectric plant at Les Escaldes, with a capacity of 26.5 megawatts, provides 40% of Andorra's electricity; Spain provides the rest. SectorsAgriculture
Because of Andorra's mountainous character, only about 2% of the land is suitable for crops. However, until the tourism sector in Andorra experienced an upsurge, agriculture had been the mainstay of the economy. Hay, tobacco, and vegetables must be irrigated; cereals, mainly rye and barley, are dry-cropped. Most of the cropped land is devoted to hay production for animal feed. Since there is insufficient sunlight on northward-facing slopes and the lands in shadow are too cold for most crops, some southward-facing fields high in the mountains must be used even though they are a considerable distance from the farmers' homes. Animal husbandry
For many centuries, until eclipsed by tourism and other service industries, sheep raising was the basis of Andorra's economy. Andorran mules are still greatly prized. Cattle, sheep, and goats are raised both in the valleys and in some of the higher areas. Cattle are raised mainly for their meat, and there are few dairy cows. When the cattle move upward in the spring, entire families move to temporary villages in the mountains to herd, mow, and plant. Large droves of sheep and goats from France and Spain feed in Andorra in the summer, and the Spanish-owned animals in particular are looked after by Andorran shepherds. On their way back to their native land, many of the animals are sold at annual fairs; the Spanish fairs are usually held in Andorra in September and the French in November. Andorra's own animal fairs are also held in the fall. Fishing
The streams are full of trout and other freshwater fish, but Andorra imports most fish for domestic consumption from Spain. Forestr
About 25,000 acres (100 km2), or 22% of the total land area, is forested. Fuel wood may be freely gathered by anyone, but it may not be bought or sold. Wood needed for building purposes is cut in rotation from a different district each year. For centuries logs have been shipped to Spain. Most reforestation is in pines. Mining
For hundreds of years, Andorran forges were famous in northern Spain. There are still iron ore deposits in the valley of Ordino and in many of the mountain areas, but access to them is difficult. In addition to iron, small amounts of lead are still mined, and alum and building stones are extracted. The sulfurous waters of Les Escaldes are used in washing wool.
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