euro (yoor'o) the basic monetary unit shared by countries of the European Union since 1999
Twelve countries have adopted the euro: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.
Denmark, Sweden, and the UK have not adopted the euro, but may in future.
The Coca-Cola Corp. will convert nearly 300,000 vending machines across Europe so that they will accept the new currency. Only 46,000 machines were ready when the euro was officially launched. 830,000 cigarette machines, however, were ready to go January 1.
One euro = 87 cents (as of April 2002)
The euro symbol was inspired by the Greek letter epsilon and refers to the first letter of the word “Europe.” The parallel lines represent the stability of the euro.
How do you change the old currency into euros? One way is through change. When someone pays a clerk using francs, for example, the change will be in euros.
On January 1, the switch was made to euro notes and coins, ending the use of a dozen national currencies, except for a two-month transition period. As of March 1, the euro is the only legal tender in the 12 countries that have adopted it.
Call it “Euros Most Wanted.” As billions of notes and coins were distributed, some robberies took place — as could be expected. Except maybe for the German security guard who robbed his own van.
Naming the new currency was tough. Every monetary name in Europe's history was considered until “ecu” (European currency unit) was selected. But the Germans thought that sounded too much like the German word for cow.
Also using the euro: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican, and French overseas territories including Martinique and Guadalupe in the Caribbean and Reunion in the Indian Ocean. It will be the official currency in Montenegro and Kosovo.
SOURCES: BBC, European Central Bank
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