Andorra Geography

General

Landlocked Andorra lies in southwestern Europe on the southern slopes of the Pyrénées Mountains between the French departments of Ariège and Pyrénées-Orientales to the north and the Spanish provinces of Gerona and Lérida to the south, with a total boundary length of 120.3 km (74.6 mi).

Andorra is about 2.5 times the size of Washington DC, with a total area of 468 sq km (180 sq mi), extending 30.1 km (18.7 mi) east to west, and 25.4 km (15.8 mi) north to south. It is the sixth smallest country in Europe and also the largest of the European microstates.

Andorra’s capital city, Andorra la Vella, is located in the southwestern part of the country.

Andorra is situated in a single drainage basin, but its main stream, the Riu Valira, has two distinct branches and six open basins; hence the term “Valleys” (Les Valls) was traditionally employed as part of the name of the principality. The section of the river flowing through El Serrat by way of Ordino and La Massana is the Valira del Nord, while that flowing through Canillo, Encamp, and Les Escaldes is the Valira d’Orient. Most of the country is rough and mountainous, and there is little level surface. All the valleys are at least 900 m (3,000 ft) high, and the mean altitude is over 1,800 m (6,000 ft). There are lofty peaks, of which the highest is Coma Pedrosa (2,946 m/9,665 ft).

Andorra has a temperate climate similar to that of its neighbours, but its higher elevation means there is, on average, more snow in winter, lower humidity, and it is slightly cooler in summer. There are, on average, 300 days per year of sunshine. The average annual temperature varies from 11°C (52°F) in Sant Julià de Lòria in the south, to 8°C (46°F) in La Massana in the centre, and to 2°C (36°F) in Arcalis in the north. The average daily high and low temperatures in Escaldes-Engordany are, respectively, 28°C (82°F) and 15°C (59°F) in July, and 11°C (52°F) and -2°C (28.4°F) in January.

Average annual precipitation is 1,071.9 mm (42.2 in) for the whole country, but it varies across the country, increasing with elevation and from south to north. The driest parish is Sant Julià de Lòria (800 mm/31.5 in per year) in the south, and the wettest is Canillo (1,100 mm/43.3 in per year) in the north. Annual precipitation can exceed 1,220 mm (48 in) the highest mountainous areas. The driest months tend to be January and February, and the wettest, May, June and November. During the summer months, there are very few rainy days, but the rainfall can be very heavy because it is associated with thunderstorms.

Overview

Location :
Southwestern Europe, between France and Spain

Geographic coordinates :
42 30 N, 1 30 E

Map references :
Europe

Area :
total: 468 sq km
land: 468 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area – comparative :
2.5 times the size of Washington DC

Land boundaries :
total: 120.3 km
border countries: France 56.6 km, Spain 63.7 km

Coastline :
0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims :
none (landlocked)

Climate :
temperate; snowy, cold winters and warm, dry summers

Terrain :
rugged mountains dissected by narrow valleys

Elevation extremes :
lowest point: Riu Runer 840 m
highest point: Coma Pedrosa 2,946 m

Natural resources :
hydropower, mineral water, timber, iron ore, lead

Land use :
arable land: 2.13%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97.87% (2005)

Irrigated land :
NA

Natural hazards :
avalanches

Environment – current issues :
deforestation; overgrazing of mountain meadows contributes to soil erosion; air pollution; wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal

Environment – international agreements :
party to: Biodiversity, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note :
landlocked; straddles a number of important crossroads in the Pyrenees

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