At the stroke of midnight, Latvian local time (seven hours plus ET), Latvia became the eighteenth member of the eurozone, with it citizens trading in their lats for euros.
The eurozone has had a rough past few years to say the least, with many thinking it was on the brink of collapse. Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus had to be bailed out and Greece was in danger of dropping the currency entirely. Though unemployment remains a huge problem (27 percent in Greece and 26 percent in Spain, the BBC reports), things have been looking up. Ireland exited the bailout on December 13, the first country to do so. And the euro rose 4.5 percent against the dollar in 2013. So why not bring another nation into the fold?
Latvians aren't necessarily thrilled with the prospect of having their currency tied to the fates of 17 other nations, according to the Guardian (The New York Times called them "ambivalent"), especially after the country so recently emerged from its own financial crisis. But they'll have just two weeks left to spend their lats before the euro becomes the country's only currency.
The country's outgoing prime minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, was expected to celebrate the new currency by withdrawing the first euro from an ATM at the stroke of midnight.
Lithuania will become the nineteenth country to join the eurozone in 2015, leaving seven European Union nations left to join, as per the terms of the treaty. It remains to be seen if they'll actually do so.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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