Greece is the southernmost of the Balkan Peninsula countries. The country joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001, but before adopting the euro, the drachma was the currency used during several periods in Greece's history. The drachma was an ancient Greek currency unit issued by many Greek city-states during one thousand years. There are three modern Greek currencies, the first introduced by the Greek King Otto in 1832 and the last replaced in 2001 by the euro. The currency did not begin circulating until 2001. Its legal introduction took place in January 2002.
The euro (EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the 27 European Union member states. On 1 January 2002, euro banknotes and coins were introduced in Greece, after a transitional period of one year when the euro first existed as 'book money' even when it was the official currency. With both the drachma and the euro, the dual circulation period had legal tender status, ended on 28 February 2002. The euro banknotes have common designs on either side. Banknotes are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5. Each note has its own color and is dedicated to an artistic period of European architecture. The front side features gateways or windows, while the back has bridges, which symbolize links between states in the union and with the future.