Euro gold and silver commemorative coins
This article covers the gold and silver issues of the euro commemorative coins. It includes some rare cases of bimetal collector coins. See €2 commemorative coins for circulating commemorative coins. In the Eurozone, as a legacy of old national practice is the minting of silver and gold commemorative coins. Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the Eurozone, but only in the country where the coin was issued; this means that while anyone is free to accept these coins as payment only in the country of issue must they be accepted to settle debt then this only under specific circumstances. Despite this, these coins are not intended to be used as means of payment, as their bullion value vastly exceeds their face value, so it does not constitute a serious problem; the major exception is Germany, where silver ten euro commemoratives are available at banks and some retailers at face value. The coins, however do not circulate, it is uncertain whether the Council of Ministers will grant them legal tender status elsewhere outside national boundaries, as San Marino and Vatican City issue these kinds of coins.
The Europa coin programme is a multi-member participation of minting precious metal coin with a particular theme that changes each year. This is a summary of the euro gold and silver commemorative coins issued by all countries in the eurozone. Austria introduced the Eurocoins in 2002 alongside the general issuance of euros in the Eurozone. From the beginning, they have been minting a large set of collectors' coins; the record was reached in 2004. There was a unique and particular edition of a special coin: the €100,000 Vienna Philharmonic, only 15 coins minted. Austria uses gold and silver for its collectors' coins. However, since 2003 a special bimetal coin, €25 face value, has been minted using silver and colored niobium, giving this set of coins a unique characteristic, since they have different color variations every year. With the exception of the 2004 Vienna Philharmonic coin and the introduced 2008 silver €1.25 Vienna Philharmonic, there is no variation in the number of issues when sorted by face value, from €5 to €100 there is a similar number of issues every year.
A unique piece in the Austrian collection is the Vienna Philharmonic coin. This coin is struck in 999.9 fine. It is issued every year, in four different face values and weights, it is used as an investment product, although it finishes always in hands of collectors. According to the World gold Council, it was the best selling gold coin in 1992, 1995 and 1996 worldwide. Since 1 February 2008, this coin is being minted in silver as well. Both sides of the coin feature the same as on the Vienna Philharmonic pure gold coin, its face value of 1.50 euros gives the silver piece its coin character, but is not relevant for the actual market value of the coin. Once again Austria made a major milestone in numismatics: the launch of the largest silver coin in the world has been made by Hall in Tirol, it was revealed on the occasion of the 2008 European Championship of Football in Austria and Switzerland. The front side design of the coin is as old as five centuries. 500 years ago in Trient, Kaiser Maximilian I crowned himself Emperor and a propaganda coin was issued by the mint in Hall.
On the coin was written: “King of all the lands in Europe”. This inscription included the word “Europe” for the first time; the obverse corresponds to that from the time of Maximilian in 1508. It shows; this massive coin has a weight of 20.08 kg. A smaller version for collectors will be minted and will be sold at €108. Belgium joined the Eurozone in 2002, since they have been minting collectors' coins. In the first two years, there were not that many coins being minted, only two issues per year. Since 2004, a gradual increase of their mints has been seen, with a record of six coins minted in 2006 and 2007 respectively. With the exception of the Belgian €2 commemorative coins and the normal Belgian euro coins, which are intended for circulation, only one coin has been minted by the Royal Belgian Mint using materials other than gold and silver; this coin, the 2006 "50th anniversary of the catastrophe Bois du Cazier at Marcinelle", is a silver coin with a portrait embossed in copper. It is the only bimetal commemorative coin minted so far.
They mint the collectors' coins issues in low quantities. The majority of the coins minted have a face value of €100 or €10. In recent years, coins with face value €50, €25, €20 and €12.50 have been minted. As of 20 October 2008, one Cypriot euro commemorative coin had been minted; this special high-value commemorative coin is not to be confused with €2 commemorative coins, which are coins designated for circulation and do have legal tender status in all countries of the Eurozone. The following table shows the number of coins minted per year. In the first section, the coins are grouped by the metal used, while in the second section they are grouped by their face value. Finland joined the eurozone in 2002, they continued their tradition of minting collectors' coins, they do not mint many coins per year. The record was reached in 2005 with five coins minted. Finland, like no other country in the union, has a tendency to use silver in their collectors' coin issues and a distinctive way of altern
History of Malta
Malta has a long history and was first inhabited in around 5900 BC. The first inhabitants were farmers, their agricultural methods degraded the soil until the islands became uninhabitable; the islands were repopulated in around 3850 BC by a civilization which at its peak built the Megalithic Temples, which today are among the oldest surviving buildings in the world. Their civilization collapsed in around 2350 BC, but the islands were repopulated by Bronze Age warriors soon afterwards. Malta's prehistory ends in around 700 BC, they ruled the islands until they fell to the Roman Republic in 218 BC. The Romans were followed by the Byzantines in the 6th century AD, who were expelled by Aghlabids following a siege in 870 AD. Malta may have been sparsely populated for a few centuries until being repopulated by Arabs in the 11th century; the islands were conquered by the Norman Kingdom of Sicily in 1091, a gradual Christianization of the islands followed. At this point, the islands were dominated by successive feudal rulers including the Swabians, the Aragonese and the Spanish.
The islands were given to the Order of St. John in 1530. In 1565, the Ottoman Empire attempted to take the islands in the Great Siege of Malta, but the invasion was repelled; the Order continued to rule Malta for over two centuries, this period was characterized by a flourishing of the arts and architecture and an overall improvement in society. The Order was expelled after the French First Republic invaded the islands in 1798, marking the beginning of the French occupation of Malta. After a few months of French rule, the Maltese rebelled and the French were expelled in 1800 with British and Portuguese assistance. Malta subsequently became a British protectorate, becoming a de facto colony in 1813; this was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris a year later. The islands became an important naval base for the British, serving as the headquarters of the Mediterranean Fleet. Due to this, Malta was attacked by the Axis powers during World War II, in 1942 the island was awarded the George Cross, which today appears on Malta's flag and coat of arms.
The Crown Colony of Malta was self-governing from 1921–33, 1947–58 and 1962–64. Malta became independent as a Commonwealth realm known as the State of Malta in 1964, it became a republic in 1974. Since 2004, the country has been a member state of the European Union. Malta stands on an underwater ridge. At some time in the distant past, Malta was submerged, as shown by marine fossils embedded in rock in the highest points of Malta; as the ridge was pushed up and the Strait of Gibraltar closed through tectonic activity, the sea level was lower, Malta was on a bridge of dry land that extended between the two continents, surrounded by large lakes. Some caverns in Malta have revealed bones of elephants and other large animals now found in Africa, while others have revealed animals native to Europe. People first arrived in Malta around 5900 BC; these first Neolithic people arrived from Sicily, but DNA analysis shows that they originated from different parts of the Mediterranean, including both Europe and Africa.
They were farming and fishing communities, with some evidence of hunting activities. They lived in caves and open dwellings. During the centuries that followed there is evidence of further contacts with other cultures, which left their influence on the local communities, evidenced by their pottery designs and colours; the farming methods degraded the soil and over the centuries the islands became too dry to sustain agricultural practices. This occurred due to climate change and drought, the islands were uninhabited for about a millennium. A second wave of colonization arrived from Sicily in around 3850 BC. One of the most notable periods of Malta's history is the temple period, starting around 3600 BC; the Ġgantija Temple in Gozo is one of the oldest free-standing buildings in the world. The name of the complex stems from the Maltese word ġgant, which reflects the magnitude of the temple's size. Many of the temples are in the form of five semicircular rooms connected at the centre, it has been suggested that these might have represented the head and legs of a deity, since one of the commonest kinds of statue found in these temples is a fat woman — a symbol of fertility.
The civilization which built the temples lasted for about 1500 years until about 2350 BC, at which point the culture seems to have disappeared. There is speculation about what might have happened and whether they were wiped out or assimilated, but it is thought that the collapse occurred due to climate conditions and drought. After the Temple period came the Bronze Age. From this period there are remains of a number of settlements and villages, as well as dolmens — altar-like structures made out of large slabs of stone, they are claimed to belong to a population different from that which built the previous megalithic temples. It is presumed the population arrived from Sicily because of the similarity to the constructions found in the largest island of the Mediterranean sea. One surviving menhir, used to build temples, still stands at Kirkop. Among the most interesting and mysterious remnants of this era are the so-called cart ruts as they can be seen at a place on Malta called Clapham Junction.
These are pairs of parallel channels cut into the surface of the rock, extending for considerable distances in an straight line. Their exact use is unknown. One suggestion is that beasts of burden used to
Gold is a chemical element with symbol Au and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright reddish yellow, soft and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a group 11 element, it is solid under standard conditions. Gold occurs in free elemental form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, in alluvial deposits, it occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver and naturally alloyed with copper and palladium. Less it occurs in minerals as gold compounds with tellurium. Gold is resistant to most acids, though it does dissolve in aqua regia, a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, which forms a soluble tetrachloroaurate anion. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals, a property that has long been used to refine gold and to confirm the presence of gold in metallic objects, giving rise to the term acid test. Gold dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which are used in mining and electroplating.
Gold dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys. A rare element, gold is a precious metal, used for coinage and other arts throughout recorded history. In the past, a gold standard was implemented as a monetary policy, but gold coins ceased to be minted as a circulating currency in the 1930s, the world gold standard was abandoned for a fiat currency system after 1971. A total of 186,700 tonnes of gold exists above ground, as of 2015; the world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, 10% in industry. Gold's high malleability, resistance to corrosion and most other chemical reactions, conductivity of electricity have led to its continued use in corrosion resistant electrical connectors in all types of computerized devices. Gold is used in infrared shielding, colored-glass production, gold leafing, tooth restoration. Certain gold salts are still used as anti-inflammatories in medicine; as of 2017, the world's largest gold producer by far was China with 440 tonnes per year.
Gold is the most malleable of all metals. It can be drawn into a monoatomic wire, stretched about twice before it breaks; such nanowires distort via formation and migration of dislocations and crystal twins without noticeable hardening. A single gram of gold can be beaten into a sheet of 1 square meter, an avoirdupois ounce into 300 square feet. Gold leaf can be beaten thin enough to become semi-transparent; the transmitted light appears greenish blue, because gold reflects yellow and red. Such semi-transparent sheets strongly reflect infrared light, making them useful as infrared shields in visors of heat-resistant suits, in sun-visors for spacesuits. Gold is a good conductor of electricity. Gold has a density of 19.3 g/cm3 identical to that of tungsten at 19.25 g/cm3. By comparison, the density of lead is 11.34 g/cm3, that of the densest element, osmium, is 22.588±0.015 g/cm3. Whereas most metals are gray or silvery white, gold is reddish-yellow; this color is determined by the frequency of plasma oscillations among the metal's valence electrons, in the ultraviolet range for most metals but in the visible range for gold due to relativistic effects affecting the orbitals around gold atoms.
Similar effects impart a golden hue to metallic caesium. Common colored gold alloys include the distinctive eighteen-karat rose gold created by the addition of copper. Alloys containing palladium or nickel are important in commercial jewelry as these produce white gold alloys. Fourteen-karat gold-copper alloy is nearly identical in color to certain bronze alloys, both may be used to produce police and other badges. White gold alloys can be made with nickel. Fourteen- and eighteen-karat gold alloys with silver alone appear greenish-yellow and are referred to as green gold. Blue gold can be made by alloying with iron, purple gold can be made by alloying with aluminium. Less addition of manganese, aluminium and other elements can produce more unusual colors of gold for various applications. Colloidal gold, used by electron-microscopists, is red. Gold has only one stable isotope, 197Au, its only occurring isotope, so gold is both a mononuclidic and monoisotopic element. Thirty-six radioisotopes have been synthesized, ranging in atomic mass from 169 to 205.
The most stable of these is 195Au with a half-life of 186.1 days. The least stable is 171Au. Most of gold's radioisotopes with atomic masses below 197 decay by some combination of proton emission, α decay, β+ decay; the exceptions are 195Au, which decays by electron capture, 196Au, which decays most by electron capture with a minor β− decay path. All of gold's radioisotopes with atomic masses above 197 decay by β− decay. At least 32 nuclear isomers have been characterized, ranging in atomic mass from 170 to 200. Within that range, only 178Au, 180Au, 181Au, 182Au, 188Au do not have isomers. Gold's most stable isomer is 198m2Au with a half-life of 2.27 days. Gold's least stable isomer is 177m2Au with a half-life of only 7 ns. 184m1Au has three decay paths: β+ decay, isomeric
Ġgantija is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta; the Ġgantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic, which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world's second oldest existing manmade religious structures after Göbekli Tepe in present-day Turkey. Together with other similar structures, these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta; the temples are elements of a ceremonial site in a fertility rite. Researchers have found that the numerous figurines and statues found on site are associated with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess who ate nothing but broad beans and honey bore a child from a man of the common people. With the child hanging from her shoulder, she built these temples and used them as places of worship; the Ġgantija temples stand at the end of the Xagħra plateau.
This megalithic monument encompasses two temples and an incomplete third, of which only the facade was built before being abandoned. Like Mnajdra South, it faces the equinox sunrise, built side by side and enclosed within a boundary wall; the southerly one is the larger and older one, dating back to 3600 BC. It is better preserved; the plan of the temple incorporates five large apses, with traces of the plaster that once covered the irregular wall still clinging between the blocks. The temples are built with inner-facing blocks marking the shape; this was filled in with rubble. A series of semi-circular apses is connected with a central passage. Archaeologists believe that the apses were covered by roofing; the effort is a remarkable feat when considering the monuments were constructed when the wheel had not yet been introduced and no metal tools were available to the Maltese Islanders. Small, spherical stones have been discovered, they were used as ball bearings for the vehicles that transported the enormous stone blocks used for the temples.
The temple, like other megalithic sites in Malta, faces southeast. The southern temple rises to a height of 6 m. At the entrance sits a large stone block with a recess, which led to the hypothesis that this was a ritual ablution station for purification before worshippers entered the complex; the five apses contain various altars. Researchers have found animal bones on the site that suggest the space was used for animal sacrifice. Residents and travelers knew about the existence of the temple for a long time. In the late 18th-century, before any excavations were carried out, Jean-Pierre Houël drew a plan based on that knowledge, found to be accurate. In 1827 Col. John Otto Bayer, the Lieutenant Governor of Gozo, had the site cleared of debris; the soil and remains were lost without having been properly examined. German artist Brochtorff had painted a picture of the site within a year or two prior to the removal of the debris, so he made a record of the site before clearance. After the excavations were conducted in 1827, the ruins fell into decay.
The remains were included on the Antiquities List of 1925. The land was held until 1933, when the Government expropriated it for public benefit; the Museums Department conducted extensive archaeological work in 1933, 1936, 1949, 1956–57 and 1958–59. Its goal was to clear and research the ruins and their surroundings; the Ġgantija temples were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. In 1992, the Committee decided to expand the listing to include five other megalithic temples located across the islands of Malta and Gozo; the Ġgantija listing was renamed "the Megalithic Temples of Malta"The temple and the surrounding areas were restored or rehabilitated in the 2000s. Lightweight walkways were installed in the temple in 2011. A heritage park was developed and opened in 2013. Megalithic Temples of Malta Ħaġar Qim Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni List of megalithic sites Mnajdra Tarxien Temples National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands Heritage Malta's Ġgantija page Ġgantija Temple on Google Maps
The euro sign is the currency sign used for the euro, the official currency of the European Union and some non-EU countries. The design was presented to the public by the European Commission on 12 December 1996, it consists of a stylized letter E, crossed by two lines instead of one. The character is encoded in Unicode at U+20AC € EURO SIGN. In English, the sign precedes the value. In some style guides, the euro sign is not spaced; the euro currency sign was designed to be similar in structure to the old sign for the European Currency Unit. There were 32 proposals; these ten were put to a public survey. After the survey had narrowed the original ten proposals down to two, it was up to the European Commission to choose the final design; the other designs that were considered are not available for the public to view, nor is any information regarding the designers available for public query. The European Commission considers the process of designing to have been internal and keeps these records secret.
The eventual winner was a design created by a team of four experts whose identities have not been revealed. It is assumed that the Belgian graphic designer Alain Billiet was the winner and thus the designer of the euro sign. Inspiration for the € symbol itself came from the Greek epsilon – a reference to the cradle of European civilization – and the first letter of the word Europe, crossed by two parallel lines to ‘certify’ the stability of the euro; the official story of the design history of the euro sign is disputed by Arthur Eisenmenger, a former chief graphic designer for the European Economic Community, who claims he had the idea prior to the European Commission. The European Commission specified a euro logo with exact proportions and colours, for use in public-relations material related to the euro introduction. While the Commission intended the logo to be a prescribed glyph shape, type designers made it clear that they intended to design their own variants instead. Generating the euro sign using a computer depends on the operating system and national conventions.
Some mobile phone companies issued an interim software update for their special SMS character set, replacing the less-frequent Japanese yen sign with the euro sign. Mobile phones have both currency signs; the euro is represented in the Unicode character set with the character name EURO SIGN and the code position U+20AC as well as in updated versions of the traditional Latin character set encodings. In HTML, the &euro. An implicit character encoding, along with the fact that the code position of the euro sign is different in common encoding schemes, led to many problems displaying the euro sign in computer applications. While displaying the euro sign is no problem as long as only one system is used, mixed setups produced errors. One example is a content management system where articles are stored in a database using a different character set than the editor's computer. Another is legacy software which could only handle older encodings such as ISO 8859-1 that contained no euro sign at all. In such situations, character set conversions had to be made introducing conversion errors such as a question mark being displayed instead of a euro sign.
Care has been taken to avoid replacing an existing obsolete currency sign with the euro sign. That could create different currency signs for sender and receiver in e-mails or web sites, with confusions about business agreements as a result. Depending on keyboard layout and the operating system, the symbol can be entered as: AltGr+4 AltGr+5 AltGr+E AltGr+U Ctrl+Alt+4 Ctrl+Alt+5 Ctrl+Alt+e in Microsoft Word in United States layout Alt+0128 in Microsoft Windows Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u followed by 20ac in Chrome OS, in other operating systems using IBus. Ctrl+k followed by =e in the Vim text editor On the macOS operating system, a variety of key combinations are used depending on the keyboard layout, for example: ⌥ Option+2 in British layout ⌥ Option+⇧ Shift+2 in United States layout ⌥ Option+⇧ Shift+5 in Slovenian layout ⌥ Option+$ in French layout ⌥ Option+E in German and Italian layout ⇧ Shift+4 in Swedish layoutThe Compose key sequence for the euro sign is =E. Placement of the sign varies. Countries have sustained those of their former currencies.
For example, in Ireland and the Netherlands, where previous currency signs were placed before the figure, the euro sign is universally placed in the same position. In many other countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Lithuania, an amount such as €3.50 is written as 3,50 € instead in accordance with conventions for previous currencies. The European Union did indeed usher a guideline on the use of the euro sign, stating it should be placed in front of the amount without any space in English, but after the amount in most other languages. In English, the euro sign—like the dollar sign and the pound sign —is placed before the figure, unspaced, as used by publications such as the Financial Times and The Economist; when written out, "euro" is placed after the value in lower case. No official recommendation is made with regard to the use of a cent sign, usage differs between and within m
The lira was the currency of Malta from 1825 until 31 December 2007. The lira was abbreviated as Lm, although the traditional ₤ sign was used locally. In English, the currency was still called the pound because of the past usage of British currency on the islands; the euro replaced the Maltese lira as the official currency of Malta on 1 January 2008 at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of €1 per 0.4293 lira. In 1825, an imperial order-in-council introduced British currency to Malta, replacing a situation where various coinages circulated, including that issued in Malta by the Knights of St John; the pound was valued at 12 scudi of the local currency. This exchange rate meant that the smallest Maltese coin, the grano, was worth one third of a farthing. 1⁄3-farthing coins were issued for use in Malta until 1913, alongside the regular British coinage. Amongst the British colonies which used the sterling coinage, Malta was unique in having the 1⁄3-farthing coin. Between 1914 and 1918, wartime emergency paper money issues were made by the government.
Until 1972, it was subdivided into each of 12 pence with 4 farthings to the penny. Pre-decimal British sterling coinage continued to circulate in Malta for nearly a year after it was withdrawn in the UK due to decimilization on 15 February 1971. In 1972, a new, decimal Maltese currency, the lira, was introduced, in both coin and banknote form; the lira was equal to the pound sterling, however this parity did not survive long after the floating of sterling on 22 June 1972. Emergency issues between 1914 and 1918 were in denominations of 5 and 10 shillings, 1, 5 and 10 pounds. In 1940, notes dated 13 September 1939 in denominations of 2 1⁄2, 5 and 10 shillings and 1 pound were issued, followed late in the year by a provisional 1 shilling note overprinted on an old 2 shilling dated 20 November 1918. Note production continued after the Second World War in denominations of 10 shillings and 1 pound, with 5 pounds notes reintroduced between 1961–1963. After the Central Bank of Malta was established by the Central Bank Act of 1967 and began operating on April 17, 1968, the issuing body named on the banknotes switched from "Government of Malta" to "Central Bank of Malta."
While the designs of the notes remained unchanged, the colors were changed. The Central Bank refers to this series as the "CBM first series"; the CBM second series began with the introduction of lira-denominated notes on January 15, 1973. Banknotes issued by the Government of Malta and by the Central Bank of Malta were written in English up to 1972, with the denomination pounds. From 1973 to 1985, they were written in Maltese on the obverse using the denomination liri, in English on the reverse using pounds. From 1986 to 2007, Maltese and liri were used on both sides. Although using British coins, Malta did not decimalize with the UK in 1971. Instead, it adopted a decimal system in 1972, based on the lira subdivided into 1000 mils or 100 cents; the name "lira" was used on banknotes beginning in 1973 jointly with "pound", on both coins and banknotes since 1986. Mils were removed from circulation in 1994. On entry into the European Union, Malta agreed to adopt the euro; the lira was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2008, as part of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.
The Maltese lira was replaced by the euro as the official currency of Malta at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of 0.429300 MTL per 1 EUR. However, Maltese lira banknotes and coins continued to have legal tender status and were accepted for cash payments until 31 January 2008. Maltese liri were convertible free of charge at all Maltese credit institutions until 30 March 2008. Maltese coins were convertible at the Central Bank of Malta until 1 February 2010, banknotes remained convertible until 31 January 2018; the Maltese lira was on a par with the British pound sterling until 13 December 1971, since the lira had been allowed to float, anchored to a basket of reserve currencies. The lira had subsequently been worth around £1.60 sterling. After the Kuwaiti dinar, it was the second-highest-valued currency unit in the world, being worth US$3.1596 as of 28 April 2007. After the dollar weakened against other currencies in mid-2006, the lira was worth US$3.35289 as of 16 December 2007. The currency entered the ERM II on 2 May 2005, by which its value had to be maintained within a 15% band around the central parity rate of 0.429300 LM per euro.
The Central Bank of Malta and Maltese Government unilaterally decided to keep the actual LM/euro exchange rate equal to the central parity rate throughout the ERM II period. The irrevocable fixed conversion rate was established by the ECOFIN on 10 July 2007, at 0.4293 lira to one euro. Decimal coinage was introduced in 1972 in denominations of 2, 3, 5 mils, 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 cents; the division of the lira into 100 cents meant that the cent was a large unit - the United Kingdom introduced the decimal 1⁄2 penny for this reason. Malta went further in introducing the mil, equal to 1⁄10 cent, it will be noted. However, the coins that were provided allowed goods to be priced for any number of mils. In 1975, a 25-cent coin was introduced. A new coinage was issued in 1986 in 1 lira. A third series was introduced in 1991 due to the change in Malta's coat of arms; the mils were withdrawn in 1994, al
Banknotes of the euro, the currency of the euro area and institutions, have been in circulation since the first series was issued in 2002. They are issued by the national central banks of the European Central Bank. In 1999 the euro was introduced and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate; the euro took over from the former national currencies and expanded around the European Union. Denominations of the notes range from €5 to €500 and, unlike euro coins, the design is identical across the whole of the Eurozone, although they are issued and printed in various member states; the euro banknotes are pure cotton fibre, which improves their durability as well as giving the banknotes a distinctive feel. They measure from 120 by 62 millimetres to 160 by 82 millimetres and have a variety of colour schemes; the euro notes contain many complex security features such as watermarks, invisible ink and microprinting that document their authenticity. While euro coins have a national side indicating the country of issue, euro notes lack this.
Instead, this information is shown by the first character of each note's serial number. According to European Central Bank estimates, in August 2018, there were about 21.737 billion banknotes in circulation around the Eurozone, with a total value of about €1.193 trillion. On 8 November 2012, the European Central Bank announced that the first series of notes would be replaced by the Europa series, starting with the 5 euro note on 2 May 2013. Estimates suggest that the average life of a euro banknote is about three years before it is replaced due to wear, but individual lifespans vary depending on denomination, from less than a year for €5 banknote to over 30 years for €500 banknote. High denomination banknotes last longer; the Europa series is designed to last longer than the previous one. The euro came into existence on 1 January 1999; the euro's creation had been a goal of its predecessors since the 1960s. The Maastricht Treaty entered into force in 1993 with the goal of creating economic and monetary union by 1999 for all EU states except the UK and Denmark.
In 1999, the currency was born and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate. It took over from the former national currencies and expanded around the rest of the EU. In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty formalised the Euro's political authority, the Euro Group, alongside the European Central Bank. Slovenia joined the Eurozone in 2007, Cyprus and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, Latvia in 2014 and Lithuania in 2015. There are seven different denominations of the euro banknotes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500; each has a distinctive size. The designs for each of them have a common theme of European architecture in various artistic eras; the obverse of the banknote features windows or gateways while the reverse bears different types of bridges. The architectural examples are stylised not representations of existing monuments. All the notes of the initial series of euro notes bear the European flag, a map of the continent on the reverse, the name "euro" in both Latin and Greek script and the signature of a president of the ECB, depending on when the banknote was printed.
The 12 stars from the flag are incorporated into every note. The notes carry the acronyms of the name of the European Central Bank in five linguistic variants, covering all official languages of the EU in 2002, now 19 out of 24 official languages of the EU28, in the following order: BCE ECB EZB ΕΚΤ EKP The order is determined by the EU country listing order, with BCE ahead of ECB because of the national precedence of Belgium's two main languages, followed by the remaining languages of Germany and Finland, in that order; the euro banknote initial designs were chosen from 44 proposals in a design competition, launched by the Council of the European Monetary Institute on 12 February 1996. The winning entry, created by Robert Kalina from the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, was selected on 3 December 1996; the euro banknotes are pure cotton fibre, which improves their durability as well as giving the banknotes a distinctive feel. In the first and Europa series, the Azores, French Guiana, Madeira, Martinique, Réunion, the Canary Islands, overseas territories of the eurozone member states, which use the euro, are shown under the map in separate boxes.
Cyprus and Malta were not shown on the first series because they were not in the EU in 2002, when the banknotes were issued though they joined the Eurozone in 2008. The map did not stretch as far east as Cyprus, while Malta was too small to be depicted.2. However, both Cyprus and Malta are depicted on the Europa series note; the Europa series banknotes to the first series, bear the European flag, a map of the continent on the reverse and the signature of Mario Draghi, since 1 November 2011 president of the ECB. The 12 stars from the flag are incorporated into the notes. On 4 May 2016 the European Central Bank decided not to issue a 500 euro banknote for the Europa series; the banknote has the name "euro", but in three scripts: Lat