The long awaited Euro currency was launched January 1, uniting 12 countries in Europe with a single currency and setting the stage for a more unified economic system across Europe.
300 million people across Europe will begin turning in their "old" currency in exchange for the new Euro. More than 650 billion Euros will be issued initially, or about US$600 billion.
Countries participating in the Euro transition, and the last day of circulation for their "old" currency, include:
Austria - Austrian Schillings, ending February 28, 2002
Belgium - Belgian Francs, ending February 28, 2002
Finland - Finnish Markka, ending February 28, 2002
France - French Francs, ending February 17, 2002
Germany - German Marks, ending December 31, 2001
Greece - Greek Drachmas, ending February 28, 2002
Ireland - Irish Pounds, ending February 9, 2002
Italy - Italian Lira, ending February 28, 2002
Luxembourg - Luxembourg Francs, ending February 28, 2002
Netherlands - Dutch Guilders, ending January 27, 2002
Portugal - Portugese Escudos, ending February 28, 2002
Spain - Spanish Pesetas, ending February 28, 2002
For more detailed information, click here to view a complete timetable including last days to exchange local currencies at private banks and central banks.
Forgery Will Be A Concern
Security officials are preparing for a deluge of counterfeit Euros to hit the marketplace on January 1, and say say gangs will flood restaurants and shops with fake euros as their owners get used to their look and feel. Forgers also plan to exchange bogus German marks or French francs as banks struggle to handle the wave of notes during the biggest money swap in history.
Various security features have been incorporated into Euro bank notes and coins. Be sure you know how to identify a fake Euro before accepting any.