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Short Extract: Discover Charming Andorra

The following is a brief book extract from the history chapter of Discover Charming Andorra

At the start of the 20th century Andorra was still cut off from the world and the economic situation remained difficult. A 1913 travelogue by V.C. Scott (O’Connor) entitled Travels in the Pyrenees, Including Andorra and the Coast from Barcelona to Carcassonne offers a fascinating insight into the state of the principality at that time.

Scott, a British official who traveled widely and published various travel books, paints a picture of Andorra in the early 20th century as poor, undeveloped, run down and backward. He describes a lack of amenities and grand buildings, villages connected by nothing more than tracks, an overall sense of deprivation and a place of hardship. Nonetheless he admired the Andorran people, who he described as stoic, proud and fiercely independent. Scott describes how some Andorrans were unenthusiastic about the new road into Andorra from Spain which was still being built during his visit.

This first proper road to Andorra was from La Seu d’Urgell. It was completed in 1914 and eventually reached Pas de la Casa on the border with France in 1933. On the French side, too, the authorities built a paved road to the border with Andorra. At the end of this guide I have included a link to a short video (in Catalan) with fascinating images of early cart tracks and the building of these first roads. They were built at the behest of the joint co-powers, with some Andorrans unhappy about the prospect of making the territory more accessible to outsiders. There are also anecdotes of Andorrans chopping down the poles supporting the earliest telegraph lines for the same reason.

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Following the First World War this process of opening up continued and in 1918 Andorra featured in an edition of the National Geographic. In 1928 a postal service was created by Spain and a radio station followed in the 1930s. It was also at this time that the first electricity generation plant opened (1934). 

In 1933 there was civil unrest in Andorra over a desire for greater democratic participation and accountability in the country, which led to a brief French occupation. The following year a Russian adventurer—Boris Skossyreff, who claimed to be of European aristocracy—sought the principality for himself and styled himself King Boris I of Andorra. However, he was quickly removed and deposed by the Spanish… Buy the book and read the rest!

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