The euro was launched on 1 January 1999, when it became the currency of more than 300 million people in Europe. For the first three years it was an invisible currency, only used for accounting purposes, e.g. in electronic payments. Euro cash was not introduced until 1 January 2002, when it replaced, at fixed conversion rates, the banknotes and coins of the national currencies like the Belgian franc and the Deutsche Mark.
Today, euro banknotes and coins are legal tender in 16 of the 27 Member States of the European Union, including the overseas departments, territories and islands which are either part of, or associated with, euro area countries. These countries form the euro area. The micro-states of Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City also use the euro, on the basis of a formal arrangement with the European Community. Andorra, Montenegro and Kosovo likewise use the euro, but without a formal arrangement.
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