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The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are primarily located in Europe. The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states. Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.
The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by the Inner Six countries in 1951 and 1958, respectively. In the intervening years, the community and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit. The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009.
The euro (currency sign: €; currency code: EUR) is the official currency of the European Union (EU). Nineteen member states have adopted it, known collectively as the Eurozone (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain). The currency is also used in five further countries with formal agreements and six other countries without such agreements. Hence it is the single currency for over 320 million Europeans. Including areas using currencies pegged to the euro, the euro directly affects close to 500 million people worldwide. With more than
€610 billion in circulation as of December 2006 (equivalent to US$802 billion at the exchange rates at the time), the euro is the currency with the highest combined value of cash in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar (USD). Taking official estimates of 2007 GDP, the Eurozone is the largest economy in the world by March 2008 after the USD/EUR exchange rate surpassed 1.56.
The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency in 1999 and launched as physical coins and banknotes on 1 January 2002. It replaced the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1. The euro is managed and administered by the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem (composed of the central banks of the euro zone countries). As an independent central bank, the ECB has sole authority to set monetary policy. The Eurosystem participates in the printing, minting and distribution of notes and coins in all member states, and the operation of the Eurozone payment systems.
is the capital
and its largest city. It is located on the Vistula
river roughly 370 km from both the Baltic Sea
coast and the Carpathian Mountains
. Its population as of 2011 was estimated at 1.7 million with a metropolitan area
of approximately 2.7 million. The city area amounts to 517 km², with an agglomeration of 6100.43 km². Warsaw is internationally notable for giving its name to the Warsaw Pact
, Warsaw Convention
and the Treaty of Warsaw
The city is home to many industries, including manufacturing, steel, electrical engineering, and automotive; it features 66 institutions of higher learning, including Warsaw University, Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw School of Economics, and a Medical Academy. Warsaw is home to over 30 theatres, including the National Theatre and Opera and the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Did you know?
...that Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City all mint their own euro coins, with their own national symbols on the back, despite not being EU members?
...that Slovenia will be joining the Euro on January 1, 2007?
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