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Welcome to €uroland.

While most Europeans were popping champing corks and kissing strangers from the Eiffel Tower to the Brandenburg Gate, their bankers were hard at work as the New Year opened.

Getting Ready For The Euro - Le Long Weekend

Work began when the US markets closed for 1988 at about 11pm London time; already 1999 in Helsinki and the fireworks were about to start in Germany and France.

The real countdown was only beginning - the Londoners had until late Sunday evening, when the markets opened in Asia; first Sydney, and then Tokyo.

By the time dawn reached London on Monday January 4th, 1999 the euro would already be trading on the world's markets.

England wasn't even in the so-called eurozone, but the euro was zoning in them.

€uro - The Currency of Europe

The Euro

Euro Banknotes:
There are 7 euro notes. In different colours and sizes they are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euros. The designs are symbolic for Europe's architectural heritage. They do not represent any existing monuments.

Windows and gateways dominate the front side of each banknote as symbols of the spirit of openness and cooperation in the EU.

The reverse side of each banknote features a bridge from a particular age, a metaphor for communication among the people of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world.

10 Euro Cent coin

There are 8 euro coins denominated in 2 and 1 euros, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Every euro coin holds a common European face.

On the obverse, each Member State decorates the coins with their own motifs. No matter which motif is on the coins they can be used anywhere inside the Member States. For example, a French citizen will be able to buy a Bratwurst in Berlin using a euro coin carrying the imprint of the King of Spain.

The common European face of the coins represents a map of the European Union against a background of transverse lines to which are attached the stars of the European flag.

The 1, 2 and 5 cent coins put emphasis on Europe's place in the world while the 10, 20 and 50 present the Union as a gathering of nations.

The 1 and 2 euro coins depict Europe without frontiers.

Symbol for the euro

The graphic symbol for the euro looks like an E with two clearly marked, horizontal parallel lines across it.

This was inspired by the Greek letter epsilon, in reference to the cradle of European civilisation and to the first letter of the word 'Europe'. The parallel lines represent the stability of the euro.

The European Union (EU)

European Flag

The European Union has its own flag, its own anthem and celebrates Europe Day on 9th May.

27 Member States of the EU

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Joined on 1st May, 2004:
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia.

Joined on 1st January, 2007:
Bulgaria, Romania.

EU Candidate Countries

Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey.

Other European Countries

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City State.

16 Member States of the European Union now use the euro as their currency.

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain.

For nostalgia's sake, the former currencies (and exchange rate to 1 euro) of these countries were.

Austrian schilling (13.7603), Belgian franc (40.3399), Cypriot pound (0.585274), Dutch guilder (2.20371), Finnish markka (5.94573), French franc (6.55957), German mark (1.95583), Greek drachma (340.75), Irish pound (0.787564), Italian lira (1,936.27), Luxembourgian franc (40.3399), Maltese lira (0.4293), Portuguese escudo (200.482), Slovak koruna (30.126), Slovenian tolar (239.64), Spanish peseta (166.386).

Also Using The Euro

The euro is also the sole currency of Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and Vatican City.

By Michel.

Related Links

European Central Bank:
The most recent members to the Eurozone were Cyprus, Malta and Slovakia.

European Union:
The official site of the European Union, in all languages of its member states.

Jobs in Europe:
Information on jobs and learning opportunities throughout Europe job vacancies in 31 European countries, CVs from interested candidates, information about living and working abroad - on the EURES network.

The Euro:
The Guardian's ongoing coverage includes news, comment and analysis about the euro, with background and historical material including yes and no campaigns.

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