So wrote Malvina Reynolds, with that kooky, lefty patronizing attitude you probably know better from her greatest hit, "Little Boxes." Remember that one, criticizing people for going to school, then getting jobs, forming families, and living in suburban developments where the houses are "all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same"? Really, what was that lady complaining about? The song quoted in the title is about a country that she read in the newspaper — back in the 60s — had a defense budget of $4.90. She took off on a lyrical flight of fancy that had no inkling of what was really going on with this country. She just used that $4.90 business as a jumping off point for hating on the United States:
I wandered down by the PentagonWhat did she know of Andorra? What do you know?
This newspaper clipping in hand
I said, "I want to see everyone
In McNamara’s band."
I said, "Look what they did in Andorra,
They put us all to shame.
The least is first, the biggest is last,
Let’s get there just the same."
Andorra is today's "History of" country, as we proceed through the list of the 206 countries in the world. It's very tiny, 181 square miles. But look where it is:
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How did that happen?
Andorra is the last independent survivor of the Marca Hispanica, the buffer states created by Charlemagne to keep the Islamic Moors from advancing into Christian France.This isn't Malvina's cute little child of a place that doesn't know war. It owes its existence to a French strategic defense.
Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting the Moors. In the 9th century, Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, named the Count of Urgell as overlord of Andorra. A descendant of the count later gave the lands to the Diocese of Urgell, headed by Bishop of Urgell.4 hams!
In the 11th century, fearing military action by neighboring lords, the bishop placed himself under the protection of the Lord of Caboet, a Catalan nobleman. Later, the Count of Foix became heir to the Lord of Caboet through marriage, and a dispute arose between the French Count and the Catalan bishop over Andorra..
In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage (pariatges).... The pareage, a feudal institution recognizing the principle of equality of rights shared by two rulers.... In return, Andorra pays an annual tribute or questia to the co-rulers consisting of four hams, forty loaves of bread, and some wine.
In 1793, the French revolutionary government refused the traditional Andorran tribute as smacking of feudalism and renounced its suzerainty, despite the wish of the Andorrans to enjoy French protection and avoid being under exclusively Spanish influence....
During World War II, Andorra remained neutral and was an important smuggling route from Spain into France. The French Resistance used Andorra as part of their route to get downed airmen out of France....
In 1958, Andorra declared peace with Germany, having been forgotten on the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and, the conflict being extended by the lack of a peace treaty, remaining legally at war.