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2014.12.31 09:30

Lithuania bids farewell to the litas to welcome the euro

BNS | DELFI | The Lithuania Tribune2014.12.31 09:30

On Wednesday, Lithuania is bidding farewell to its national currency, the litas, and welcoming the common European Union (EU) currency, the euro, which will be adopted on 1 January 2015.

On Wednesday, Lithuania is bidding farewell to its national currency, the litas, and welcoming the common European Union (EU) currency, the euro, which will be adopted on 1 January 2015.

A series of festive events for Lithuania's accession to the euro area will kick off in the country's largest cities at noon, including quizzes. Huge cubes will be lit up in Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda featuring historic moments of Lithuania's integration with Western Europe.

A large euro symbol will appear on the Vilnius municipality building on Wednesday evening.

A few hours before midnight, special video projections will be played in main city squares, depicting Lithuania's history, with the images transforming into various shapes of clocks counting down the time until the New Year.

Immediately after midnight, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius will make the first cash withdrawal in euros at an ATM in central Vilnius. The event should be attended by Estonia's prime minister and Latvia's foreign minister.

Lithuanian cafes, restaurants and bars will serve a special alcohol-free euro drink.

Lithuania will become the 19th country of the euro area.

The government said the euro will boost the economy due to cheaper borrowing, eliminate currency exchange costs and devaluation risks. Meanwhile, critics fear higher prices and compulsory contributions to euro area rescue funds.

Latest polls show that just over half of Lithuania's residents support the adoption of the euro.

The litas was the national currency between 1922 and 1940 and, once again, 1993 to 2014.

Key dates

1918 – Lithuania restores its statehood and soon afterwards starts considering the issue of the national currency.

1922 – official introduction of the litas at a rate of 10:1 to the US dollar. The first temporary notes were printed in Berlin, and permanent notes were printed in Prague.

1925 – litas and centas coins made in Great Britain put into circulation.

1936 – production of litas and centas coins starts in Kaunas, Lithuania.

1940 – occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union results in ban of the litas, which was replaced by the rouble. The subsequent occupation by Nazi German also did not allow restoring the litas.

1990 – Lithuania restores independence and starts preparing to reintroduce its own currency.

1992 – temporary money, talonas, put in circulation.

1993 – introduction of the litas.

1994 – pegging of the litas to the US dollar at a rate of 4:1.

2002 – pegging of the litas to the euro at a rate of 3.4528:1.

2004 – Lithuania joins the European Union (EU) and commits to adopting the euro.

2015 – adoption of the euro.

BNS