At the close of 2001, 15 countries were members of the European Union (EU). These countries have pledged to cooperate with each other politically, economically, and in matters of security. The economic cooperation includes sharing a common currency, the euro. All but three of the EU member countries agreed to make the transition to the euro on January 1, 2002. The countries adopting the euro are collectively called "the eurozone." Under the euro system, paper money has a uniform design, just as all U.S. dollar bills look the same. But the coins have a European design on one side and a symbol for each participating nation on the other side (much as the recently minted U.S. quarters honor different states). Ireland, for example, is represented by a harp, and Italy is represented by classical designs from its famous artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci. Although the coins have national symbols, they are the currency throughout eurozone countries, not just within the nation represented by a particular symbol.
Find out more about the euro on the following Web site. Be sure to explore the sidebar features to find out more about the euro's history, appearance, and related matters of interest.