Andorra, a tiny principality nestled in scenic Pyrenees valleys on the border between France and Spain, was once a backwater of mule-raising and tobacco-smuggling. It has transformed itself into a tax-free playground of spas, ski resorts and shopping malls and now has one of the highest living standards in the world.

It also offers "offshore" banking facilities for international finance, and that success is evidenced by the congested roads, plus the buzzing jackhammers and whirring cranes busy building new attractions and facilities in Andorra la Vella, the capital.

For travelers, Andorra offers hiking and village festivals in summer, skiing in winter, and dramatic mountain scenery, spas and duty-free shopping year-round, all tucked into one of the smallest countries in Europe.

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