Andorra, one of the smallest countries in the world, sits high in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.'The official name of Andorra in Catalan, a language that closely resembles the Provençal spoken in southern France, is Valls d'Andorra (Valleys of Andorra). Andorra la Vella (Andorra the Old) a town of about twenty-two thousand people, is the capital.
The steep rocky mountains that surround Andorra cut the country off from the rest of the world for hundreds of years. As a result, Andorra's boundaries have changed little since the Middle Ages. Andorra's legal system is based on ancient laws and common law (rules based on customs) that date from the Roman Empire.
Steep mountain peaks as high as 9,665 feet (2,946 meters) above sea level tower over the valleys of Andorra. Fields and meadows lie in the valleys, and oak, pine and fir trees cover the lower mountain slopes. Only grass grows farther up the mountainsides. The Valira del Norte (Northern Valira) and the Valira del Orient (Eastern Valira) rivers meet near the town of Andorra la Vella to form the Valira River, which flows into Spain. The main roads in Andorra follow the Valira del Norte toward France and the Valira to Spain.