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Andorra – 2025 – future look in 1999

Andorra – 2025  — Fantasy

Jacquie Crozier – Inter-Comm October 1999

(As a new millennium approaches, many people have been speculating on what the future holds, especially the next quarter of a century. I thought it might be amusing to attempt an imaginative scenario of Andorra twenty-five years on. I wrote the original version for Poble Andorra in December 1993 and re-reading and revising that draft, which I discovered when clearing out my files, it was fascinating to see what has already come about and what I got wrong – quite a lot!)

The Cap de Govern looked out of his window in the Casa de La Vall and sighted; the continual roar of helicopters taking off and landing at the Comella heliport opposite disturbed his concentration as he tried to compose his New Year speech for press and parliament. It was so hot too! Although it was the end of December there was no snout be seen on any of the peaks visible from the window. Global warming was gathering pace and rapidly becoming global over-heating. So many changes in the past twenty-five years, he thought. Andorra had been very different when he first came to take his seat in the government at the end of the last century as the youngest Minister of Education the country had ever had. There certainly had not been a heliport then, although there had been plenty of talk about one and of Andorra’s need for an airport. Where the heliport now stood on the hillside above the capital used to be a dogs’ home, he seemed to remember, next to an ancient incinerator that spread a pall of pollution over the valley. He looked down at the gleaming monorail running above the river. Its central station had been a disused bull-ring, a dilapidated red and yellow metal building, he recalled. Certainly the busy station was an improvement , and at least the monorail did not make a noise. Unlike those helicopters, he thought, as another one passed by seemingly only inches from the window. Still they brought in the tourists and the business excecutives and much needed revenues.

From his viewpoint, high above the valley, the Cap de Govern could not see the faces of the many individuals scurrying into the station or taking the cablecar to the heliport but he knew many of them would be Asian. Who would have guessed in 2000, he mused, that in twenty-five years time almost a quarter of the population would have come from the Far East?

Why in 2000 the Andorrans were worrying that there were almost as many Portuguese in the country as there were Andorrans. He doubted if there were even a hundred Portuguese here now.

The death blow to the tourist trade had been global warming. Ever since 2010 winters had been getting noticeably shorter and warmer with less and less snow. With night-time temperatures way above freezing it had proved impossible to even make the artificial stuff. In the Alps now there was never any snow below 2500 metres and in the Pyrenees the situation was even worse. All the ski stations had gradually closed; no-one skied in Europe any more. One had to go to the Andes or the Himalayas for guaranteed snow and then hili-skiing was the only way to get high enough. Tibetan ski resorts were fashionable at the moment and many Andorran instructors were working there. Chinese travel agents in Andorra were offering huge numbers of cheap package tours – only a thousand euros for a week in Nepal or Tibet over the New Year.

The Cap de Govern looked up to where once a ski resort had stretched from Madrid to La Rabassa. It had barely built when the snow stopped. After several years of lying empty and decaying, a real blot on the landscape, it was now a hive of industry again.

He watched cable cars carrying citizens up and down. With no snow it had easier to build higher and higher and there were now thriving luxury developments all around the old ski resorts. And high-tech industry too. Andorra had to thank the Azians for the fact Andorra now led the World in the manufacture of domestic robots which had started to catch on in a big way about fifteen years ago, once every home had a computer to programme them. The Cap de Govern glanced idle down into the street and then looked more closely. When a strange-looking animal that Chinese woman was walking on a lead. Surely it could not be – yes, it was a robot! As everyone now had a domestic robot in their homes to clean and cook, some manufactures were turning out “pets”. The craze seemed to be catching on; they were much easier to look after then real animals and could be programmed to act as very efficient burglar alarms or even catch and immobilise anyone sufficiently foolhardy to try and break into a robotically guarded flat.

Ten years after the turn of the century there had been only half the number of Spaniards in Andorra that there had been in the nineties. And then the Germans moved in. After effectively taking over Majorca they had looked about for a combined financial and winter holiday centre and nearby Andorra had fitted the bill nicely.

Still, things were very much better nowadays, he congratulated himself. It still seemed strange to see German or Chinese names over the banks lining both sides of Avenue Meritxell. Still he mused, both nationalities were extremely efficient, he had to give them that. When he was young, he remembered, school children and bank staff were learning English as their fourth language. Now German and Chinese lessons were all the rage. When he had visited the infant class of one of the Andorran schools the other day, the pupils had performed a play in Mandarin! Admittedly, almost half of the class was Asian.

That thought recalled one of his most pressing problems – the nationality Bill now in front of Parliament. Andorra’s new citizens, now far more powerful and wealthy, were pressing hard for dual nationality. They had a vote in the European parliament, of course. They could elect their Euro M.Ps but not content with running Andorra financially, they wanted a say in running the country too. Automatic right to Andorran citizenship after five years’ residency was what they were demanding, with no question of renouncing their original nationality.

The Cap de Govern looked across to where the gleaming new casino stood on the hillside opposite, just below the ski resort that stretched from Madrid to La Rabassa. None of that would have been built but for money and expertise, he mused. Neither would Caldea, Escaldes’ glass-mountain spa.

In spite of the Constitution which had been drawn up well over a quarter of a century ago, theca-princes had more say in international affairs than the Andorrans felt purely constitutional figureheads should have. But as they were usually at loggerheads, Andorra managed to manipulate them to achieve what she needed.

All in all, the Cap de Govern decided, as a pretty little robot brought him a cup of jasmine tea and an apple strudel, the new cosmopolitain Andorra of the 21st century was a better place to live than it had been twenty-five years ago.

Jacquie Crozier

Published in the Inter-Comm December 1999