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The Euro

euro currency photo

ABOVE:  Euro banknotes.

Q. What is the euro?

It's a common currency that has replaced 16 national currencies in Western Europe--among them, the French franc, the German Mark, the Dutch guilder, and the Italian lira.

The euro is divided into 100 cents. Prices and other amounts are typically quoted with the symbol € or the abbreviation EUR.

Q. Which countries are participating?

Initially, 11 countries replaced their currencies with the euro. The euro's founding member states included:

Austria Italy
Belgium Luxembourg
Finland Netherlands
France Portugal
Germany Spain

Since the currency's introduction, more countries have joined the euro zone:

Cyprus Slovakia
Malta Slovenia

Other countries that use the euro as currency (but aren't members of the euro zone) include Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

As you can see from the lists, many European nations have chosen not to support the euro: among them, Britain, Switzerland, and all but one of the Scandinavian countries. Others haven't met the economic requirements for participation in the common currency.

front of euro banknote

back of euro banknote

ABOVE: Front and back of a €10 banknote.

BELOW: Front of €1 coin, and back of a €1 coin from the Zecca di Stato, the Italian national mint. (Coins have a standard "heads" side, but the "tails" side differs from country to country. All national versions can be used interchangeably throughout the euro zone.) 

1-Euro coin - front 1-Euro coin - back - Italian version


Plural: "Euro" vs. "euros"

You might expect a common currency to have a common spelling, but no such luck. An EU dossier recommends using "euro" as the plural form in English, but the currency's official Web site employs the "euros" form, and so most British newspapers.

Web links

Europe for Visitors Currency Converter
Translate your dollars, pounds, etc. into euros, or vice versa.

Wikipedia: Euro
In addition to describing the history and economic impact of the euro, Wikepedia has an article on the eurozone.

Track the movement of the euros in your wallet, and see where they go after you spend them.

Microsoft Typography: The euro currency symbol
If you're an art director or typography nerd, this discussion of the euro currency symbol's glyph is for you.

Money tools and tips at
Europe on a budget (money-saving tips)
Currency converter
The euro
ATMs and exchange machines
ATM conversion fees
Using credit cards in Europe
Credit-card surcharges
Prepaid Travel Money Cards (debit cards)
Traveler's checks
Tax-free shopping (VAT refunds)
Travel-insurance articles

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

For more information, see About Europe for Visitors, press clippings, and reader testimonials.