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Principality of Andorra, Principat d'Andorra

Last modified: 2002-12-20 by santiago dotor
Keywords: andorra | coat of arms | cartouche | construction sheet |
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[Andorra] 7:10 | stripes 8+9+8
by Carlos Esparza from an original World Flag Database image
Flag adopted 1866

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Statistics (1995):

  • Population:
    • Spanish 46.4%
    • Andorrans 19.5%
    • Portuguese 10.8%
    • French 6.7%
    • Other nationalities 5.3%
    • Unstated nationalities 11.3%
  • Administrative divisions: 7 parishes
  • Army: none
  • Police: 32 men, in alternance from the French Gendarmerie and the Barcelona police.
  • No merchant navy.
Source: Les chiffres du monde (Encyclopaedia Universalis Yearbook).

Ivan Sache, 3 February 2001

Use of the Flag

Album des Pavillons 2000, page AN 1.1, shows the flag with arms — the drawing is very much like the one on FOTW. As far as I am aware, the flag without the arms is (was?) used in Andorra itself quite more often than the version with arms. In any case, I guess it is not wrong to have the flag without arms, and that could at least be mentioned in a note [in Album des Pavillons 2000]. Regarding the useage:

  • Smith 1980 indicates the version without arms as , and that with arms as . It also marks both versions as de facto () —i.e. that there is no legal document adopting the flag (not as unofficial)— and the version with arms as variation () i.e. that there are several flags of the same basic design that are used concurrently.
  • FOTW marks version with arms as , though the version without arms is a variation in both uses, I guess.
  • Album des Pavillons 2000 marks the version with arms as . Is there any army to be using this flag?

Zeljko Heimer, 31 January 2001

[Last] weekend I was in Andorra. (...) I searched for more flags: civil defense, police etc. but none has flags (only logos). Only the communications service [post office?] has a flag that is hoisted in their headquarters, blue and bears the white logo in it. (...) Out of the seven districts or parroquies [i.e. parishes] I was in three, but unluckily in one of them headquarters [district council?] were closed because it was Sunday. In other two they have no knowledge of having a flag. At the headquaters of the main parroquia, Andorra la Vella, they gave me several details about the arms of the parroquia, including Pantone [shade]s, and also information about national symbols, but they never heard about a flag for the parroquia.

I tried to visit the National Historic Archive, but was unable to as it is necessary to call days in advance (...). If anyone is interested, specially [to find out more] about the misterious vertical yellow-red flag, contact:

Arxiu Historic Nacional
Edifici Prada Casadet
Prada Casadet, 8-12
Andorra la Vella
Tel. 861889 / Fax 868645

Jaume Ollé, 18 March 2001

Specifications and Construction Sheet

[Construction Sheet (Andorra)] 7:10 | stripes 8+9+8
by Carlos Esparza and Zeljko Heimer from an original World Flag Database image

Smith 1980 gives the ratio as exactly 2:3 (how can he be sure if they are de facto flags?). Album des Pavillons 2000 gives the ratio as ~2:3 and also provides the construction details (where do they come from if there is no document determining the overall ratio?) In any case, I used the construction details in Album des Pavillons 2000 on the above image. The shield is 20 units wide set in the middle of 36 unit wide yellow stripe. The overall ratio is then ~67:100 i.e. ~2:3.

Zeljko Heimer, 31 January 2001

Through Spanish and French contamination, I guess most if not all flags in Andorra are 2:3.

Santiago Dotor, 1 February 2001

The origin of the ~67 height dimension is 2/3rds of the length: 100x2/3 = 66.666... The data for arms and stripes are extracted from a page received 22nd January 1999 from Michel Lupant, Bandera del Principat d'Andorra. In that plate, width is 70 (thus, near 67) and ratio is 7:10. The colours are extracted from coat-of-arms received 1st December 1993 from the French Co-prince [i.e. French President].

Armand Noel du Payrat, editor of Album des Pavillons 2000, 1 February 2001

So the stripes' proportion is not 1+1+1 (equal stripes) but 32+36+32 i.e. 8+9+8 — why such odd proportions? Well, I can see several reasons why (heraldic reasons, to start with) so perhaps my question should be "since when?". And, shall we assume that the "never adopted but official" ratio is 7:10 not 2:3?

Santiago Dotor, 1 February 2001

[Last] weekend I was in Andorra. (...) The national flag is hoisted [showing arms] in several sizes around Andorra. In the government house, comuna house [city hall?], and other official services, size of the arms is 1/3 of the flag's height; but other flags show with arms 1/5 of the flag's height.

Jaume Ollé, 18 March 2001

Flag without Coat-of-Arms

[Flag without Coat-of-Arms (Andorra)] 2:3
by Mark Sensen

The flag of Andorra has been used from circa 1870 as a civil flag. The proportions are 2:3. The state flag (used on government buildings, etc.) has, in addition, the arms of Andorra on the yellow stripe.

Zeljko Heimer, 7 November 1995

Smith 1975 and Smith 1980 claim that the flag without the arms is the civil flag on land. Just the state flag has arms. So, it seems that general public should use the simple flag. However, as far as I know, there is no legislation in Andorra regarding the flag, so probably both versions are used interchangeably. Maybe influenced by similar tendency in neighbouring Spain, the version with the arms is now used more often (and also because the Chad/Romania problem). It may be that this is more showed outside of Andorra itself, resulting from the wish of many flag-hoisters (?) to have a different flag for each country.

Zeljko Heimer, 5 March 1997


French and Spanish Variants

[Coat-of-Arms (Andorra)]
by Jaume Ollé

In one of my very first web browsings in the hunt for flags and flag sites, I found a relic of bad GIFfing of an Andorran flag. Eventually, I decided to reproduce this GIF to practice vectorial drawing. This GIF is a wrong depiction of the flag of Andorra, because as far as I know (a) the proportions of the flag are wrong and (b) the coat-of-arms is wrong:

  • the Bearn cows should be yellow, not blue; they also should be facing the other side.
  • the Bearn field should be red, not green.
  • the Urgel field should be blue, not red. The mitre also looks weird.
  • the Catalonia quarter (3rd) should have 4 red stripes instead of 3.
This is what I know. But I don't know (and I'd like to) if the supporting stuff and the crown are / have been used. I'm quite sure they must be also wrong, but I don't know how wrong.

Jorge Candeias, 1 August 1999

[Andorra (incorrect flag)]
by Jorge Candeias

In the Andorran coat-of-arms in Crampton 1990, which I used as reference, it shows with the colours reversed. Also, I noticed that in the 3 Andorran GIFs Jaume Ollé posted some months ago, there are quite large variations in the coats-of-arms, namely the Bearn field green as in my GIF and the cows in red, the Urgel field in red, 4 red stripes in the Foix field, etc. What's up? Are all these variations variations admissible? Or is the Andorran flag the most commonly depicted wrongly of national flags?

Jorge Candeias

The Andorran Constitution says: "Article 2: (...) 2. L'himne nacional, la bandera i l'escut d'Andorra són els tradicionals." ["The national anthem, the flag and the coat of arms of Andorra are the traditional ones"]. No way to find out the tradition... The Head of Government page displays Mr. Forné with the Andorran flag on which are visible the right Urgell (gold on gules) and Bearn (gules on gold) quarters.

Joan-Francés Blanc, 4 August 1999

There are two versions of the Andorran coat-of-arms: French and Spanish. [Mauro] Talocci shows them in his book [one of these?]. The Spanish version has a "regular" mitre on a blue field, the cows are yellow on red and face right (viewer's right). The French version has a "weird" mitre on a white field, the cows are red on yellow and face left. This coat-of-arms is shown in the book on the state flag. I used this in my exhibit. Look at the big postcard — note that the carved coat-of-arms in the postcard is different from the stamp next to it. The stamp was issued by the French post and the cows are red on yellow, facing left. But on the other French-Andorra stamp, on the lower-left corner of the page, the cows are facing right. On the red Spanish-Andorra stamp next to it, the cows are yellow on red and face left. I just got today a French-Andorra booklet that has on the cover the coat-of-arms with red on yellow cows facing left. That is probably the correct version as it matches the Bearn arm[s], shown on the French stamp at top-left. Conclusion: chaos. On all the "philatelic" versions the mitre is "normal". Also, there is no green anywhre - only red and yellow where there are colours.

Nahum Shereshevsky, 20 August 1999

The situation about the Andorran coat-of-arms and flag really seems to be quite chaotic. However, I think that in any case it would be useful to contact the Valley to know which of these versions were official and when. Despite the "artistic liberties" that are common in heraldry, my impression is that these variations in Andorra are far too important to be due to those "liberties" only. Regarding my image and its original, I think they are simply wrong, regardless of any possible variations in the Andorran flag.

Jorge Candeias, 21 August 1999

According to Collins' Gem Book of Flags, the flag shown is correct as far as the Bearn Cows and the crown are concerned, however, there are two different versions of the Andorran Coat of Arms, a unique (?) situation brought about by the political situation in the country. The Spanish version of the arms is as shown, but the French one has the cows reversed and no crown on the shield. I recently visited Andorra and noticed that the State flag and Civil flag are used fairly interchangeably and usually as 1 of 4 flags flown — France, Spain, Andorra and Catalonia [sic].

Benjamin Mathis, 11 September 1999

Many days after the original post, I found a (long) text in Catalan at this Andorran Official Bulletin webpage. It's a law about the use of State symbols (flag, coat of arms, titles and names like the Co-Prince or the General Council). An annex depicts the coat of arms in this terms:

Escut tradicional andorrà
L'escut del Principat d'Andorra tradicionalment ha estat format per quatre cases, dues corresponents a cadascun dels dos Coprínceps. Les quatre cases tradicionals són:
  1. la del Bisbat, representada per una mitra i un bācul daurats sobre fons vermell;
  2. la de Catalunya;
  3. la de Foix;
  4. la de Bearn.
L'escut pot anar acompanyat de la divisa "Virtus Unita Fortior". L'escut pot anar envoltat d'una aurèola, d'un pergamí o coronat amb els emblemes del senyor (corona, capell). En algun moment de la història d'Andorra els colors han sofert variacions, ha desaparegut una de les quatre cases dins l'escut i fins i tot s'han separat els elements d'una casa com, per exemple, quan s'ha posat la mitra i el bàcul en dos quadrants separats.
Translation of the beginning:
Traditional Andorran coat-of-arms
The coat of arms of the Principality of Andorra has been traditionnaly made of four quarters, two for each of the co-princes. The four traditional quarters are:
  1. the one of the Bishopric, represented by a golden mitre and crozier on a red background;
  2. the one of Catalonia;
  3. the one of Foix;
  4. the one of Bearn.

Joan-Francés Blanc, 21 September 1999

...and I noticed recently in an old dictionary yet another variation of the coat-of-arms: the Catalonian quarter was replaced by a kind of scepter with a curved extremity (like the scepters of bishops). The drawing was in black and white, so I can't tell anything about colours. This seems weird, because it would probably mean two quarters referring to Urgell (1st and 3rd).

Jorge Candeias, 22 September 1999

I was reading the descriptions of the various versions of the Andorran state flag you've come across, in particular the variations in the state coat armory. I think a great deal of artistic license has been employed over the years, but correctly the quarters bearing the arms of Foix and Bearn should be "or, three pales [rather pallets] gules" and "or, two bulls gules, horned, hoofed and belled azure" respectively. These two quarterings indicate the position of the old Foix family as co-princes of Andorra (my surname is Foix de Carmain so I'm pretty "up" on the details). I think the tendency to reverse or alter the colors in the Bearn arms and face the bulls the other direction (right instead of left) is a Spanish innovation.

Timothy B. Carmain, 2 November 1999

I see three different shades of gold on the coat-of-arms image by Jaume Ollé: the cartouche, the quartering boundaries and the field of the escutcheons. Is there any justification for this?

António Martins, 10 January 2000

An Italian dictionary Il Nuovissimo Melzi, 1952, displayed the flag of (...) Andorra with a crown [instead of a coat-of-arms] and horizontal stripes.

Alex Belfi, 2 October 2000

1806-1866 Flag

[Andorra 1806-1866]
by Ivan Sache

Andorra's current flag was introduced in 1866 by adding a blue field to the yellow and red flag of Foix. By doing so, both France and Spain were represented with two colors in Andorra's flag (red and blue for France and red and yellow for Spain). Source: Herzog and Hannes 1990.

Volker Mörbitz Keith, 11 April 2000