Goodbye Kroon, Hello Euro (5)
As the clocks struck twelve marking the arrival of the new year, Estonia bid fond farewell to its national currency, the kroon, becoming the 17th country to join the Eurozone.
Both currencies will be accepted in tandem over the course of a 14-day transition period, however shops, restaurants and other businesses must give change only in euros during that time.
The occasion was marked in Tallinn with a celebratory, outdoor concert on Theater Square. Shortly after midnight Prime Minister Andrus Ansip ceremonially withdrew his first euro notes from a cash machine at the event.
At a press conference held the afternoon prior to the changeover, Ansip reiterated his opinion that a speedy adoption of the euro was necessary to calm the fears of foreign investors who have been reluctant to deal with Estonia due to concerns over devaluation.
Estonia's adoption of the common currency is the culmination of efforts that began at the time the Baltic nation joined the EU in 2004. Pundits at the time optimistically predicted that Eurozone entry would come as early as 2007, however high inflation associated with the nation's record GDP growth continually prevented Estonia from meeting Maastricht criteria.
However the upheaval of the recent economic crisis damped down inflation enough to make the cut, and the government adopted belt-tightening measures that allowed it to meet the Eurozone entry rules.