Greece

Greece is the southernmost of the Balkan Peninsula countries. The country joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001, but before adopting the euro, the drachma was the currency used during several periods in Greece's history. The drachma was an ancient Greek currency unit issued by many Greek city-states during one thousand years. There are three modern Greek currencies, the first introduced by the Greek King Otto in 1832 and the last replaced in 2001 by the euro. The currency did not begin circulating until 2001. Its legal introduction took place in January 2002.

The euro (EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the 27 European Union member states. On 1 January 2002, euro banknotes and coins were introduced in Greece, after a transitional period of one year when the euro first existed as 'book money' even when it was the official currency. With both the drachma and the euro, the dual circulation period had legal tender status, ended on 28 February 2002. The euro banknotes have common designs on either side. Banknotes are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5. Each note has its own color and is dedicated to an artistic period of European architecture. The front side features gateways or windows, while the back has bridges, which symbolize links between states in the union and with the future.

There are eight euro coins and seven euro-denominated banknotes. The banknotes, with designs defined by the ECB as displaying "architectural styles from various periods in Europe'sEurope's history," are alike throughout the euro area. However, euro coins have one country-specific side. All euro coins and notes are legal tender in any country in the eurozone, which currently represents 19 of the 27 countries of the EU. All countries in the EU except Denmark, which has opt-out clauses, are expected to join the euro area eventually.

The microstates of Andorra, Vatican City, San Marino, and Monaco also use the euro as part of a formal agreement with the European Community. This means that at present, euro coins and notes are circulating in countries with a population of 340 million people. However, following global trends, the share of physical cash in transactions has been dwindling steadily as credit and debit card usage rises. Cash is still common for smaller transactions but less so for bigger ones.
 

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