Andorra is a small country that sits between France and Spain. For more than 700 years, Andorrans lived under a co-principality ruled by French and Spanish leaders, but today, it has its own democracy and prospers through tourism. So what's so special about the area besides its picturesque mountains and unique history?
Andorrans' average life expectancy is 83.5, which is the highest in the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most of the current population of 83,000 works in the tourist-related industry or in a bank — an estimated 11.6 million tourists visit annually, presumably attracted by Andorra's landscapes, duty-free status and by Summer and Winter resorts.
A journalist for the BBC recently took a trip to the region to explore how daily life might factor into the country's healthy lifespan. To check out a list of things he discovered,
- Andorrans stay active — Andorra has seven parishes and seven state-of-the-art public leisure centers (there are many more private ones). Free transport is provided there from the town center every 15 minutes during the day.
- They have a quality public health system — Andorrans have what the WHO ranks as the third-best public health system in the world to maintain them.
- They have a healthy, Mediterranean diet — A head chef from just outside the capital La Vella claims customers want "healthy food and they can tell what is healthy."
- Stress of crime? What crime? — There are almost non-existent crime levels in Andorra. Minister and government spokesman, Juli Minoves says there is a single prison with about 50 inmates. (Interesting note: The country has no army! Defense is the responsibility of France and Spain.)
- Andorrans are not afraid to indulge — Cigarettes are apparently smoked everywhere, by the old and young. Wine is appreciated even in the hospital canteen.