Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Euro and its History

By Natalie Brady, Jr. Assistant Editor


Imagine if each of the states in the United States was a country, and each of these states had their own type of money. Now say you lived on the border of Ohio and Kentucky. You would need to have two different types of money, because Kentucky wouldn’t accept Ohio money and Ohio wouldn’t accept Kentucky money!

This is what it was like until 2002 in Europe. Some countries there are smaller than some of the states in the United States, and some people would be traveling in between countries on a regular basis. Companies would also be working in multiple countries; the different currencies made business more complex.

You can imagine the hassle it might cause for individuals and businesses. There are other problems with money crossing the borders as well: money values differ, fees are charged to exchange money, and it can be hard to control costs in one area versus another. However, this was changed in 1999 when the euro was adopted in sixteen different countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Slovac Republic, Slovenia, and Spain.

All currencies have a symbol. The symbol that represents the U.S. dollar is $. Whenever you see this symbol, you know we’re talking about U.S. dollars. When it came time to pick a symbol for the euro, people ages 18 to 75 voted between eight different choices. The winner was a stronger symbol and more modern than the rest, and is pictured here:

The euro comes in seven bills and eight coins – the bills come in five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 denominations. The bills are all different sizes. The value of the coins are one, two, five, ten, 20, and 50 cents.

Attempt to imagine reaching over three million people of many different countries and trying to change their money to just one currency – this was the largest civilian project in the history of the world. The euro officially entered into circulation in 2002, replacing the countries’ former national currency.

So far, economists and government leaders feel the euro has been successful. Hopefully it will stay that way.