The Euro Pictures Its First 10 Years

Euro coins and notes first went into circulation 10 years ago Sunday. Host Audie Cornish reads a history of the economic union in the images imprinted on its currency.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Cautious optimism is about all eurozone countries could muster for the 10 year anniversary of their shared currency, after months of worry over whether the euro would truly survive. When the euro launched its first banknotes and coins 10 years ago, it was amid fireworks and celebration. This year, a more modest approach. The European Central Bank is issuing a new, two-euro coin, a sort of brass and nickel birthday card for the euro.

According to the bank's website, the coin, quote, "symbolizes the way in which the euro has become a true global player over the past 10 years." Etched on its face is a family of four representing ordinary people; a ship representing commerce, a factory representing industry; and a wind power station representing energy.

Euro coins have provided a steady outlet for the artistically inclined since their launch, especially since individual eurozone members can issue them. The Greeks minted a coin celebrating the Athens Olympic Games. Slovenia issued a two-euro coin to mark the 200th anniversary of the Botanical Garden in Ljubljana. The Vatican City's coins have featured the pope - first John Paul, and now Benedict. In 2005, Spain paid tribute to a national icon of fiction, Don Quixote, on the 4th centenary of Cervantes' famous novel.

And a special design in 2007 marked half a century since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which created the original European Economic Community and laid the groundwork for today's struggling eurozone.

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