The euro (currency sign: EUR; currency code: EUR) is the official currency of the European Union (EU). Nineteen member states have adopted it, known collectively as the Eurozone (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain). The currency is also used in five further countries with formal agreements and six other countries without such agreements. Hence it is the single currency for over 320 million Europeans. Including areas using currencies pegged to the euro, the euro directly affects close to 500 million people worldwide. With more than
EUR610 billion in circulation as of December 2006 (equivalent to US$802 billion at the exchange rates at the time), the euro is the currency with the highest combined value of cash in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar (USD). Taking official estimates of 2007 GDP, the Eurozone is the largest economy in the world by March 2008 after the USD/EUR exchange rate surpassed 1.56.
The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency in 1999 and launched as physical coins and banknotes on 1 January 2002. It replaced the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1. The euro is managed and administered by the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem (composed of the central banks of the euro zone countries). As an independent central bank, the ECB has sole authority to set monetary policy. The Eurosystem participates in the printing, minting and distribution of notes and coins in all member states, and the operation of the Eurozone payment systems.
is the capital
and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated on the Vltava
river in central Bohemia
, it is home to approximately 1.2 million people. Since 1992, the historic center of Prague has been included in the UNESCO
list of World Heritage Sites
. According to Guinness World Records
, Prague Castle
is the largest ancient castle in the world.
The land where Prague was to be built has been settled since the Paleolithic Age. Several thousands of years ago, there were trade routes connecting southern parts of Europe to northern Europe which passed through this area, following the course of the river. From around 500 BC the Celtic tribe known as the Boii, were the first known inhabitants of this region known by name. The Boii named the region Bohemia and the river Vltava. In between the 6th and the 9th AD the Germanic tribe Marcomanni migrated to Bohemia and other Germanic tribes followed during the 5th century AD, but in the 6th century their elites and majority of inhabitants moved to the Danubian area which enabled a Slavic tribe invading from the West, to settle this area. The Czech Slavic tribe came to Bohemia in the 6th century and Forefather Czech became the founder of the Czech nation.