The Euro (sign: €; code: EUR) is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Benelux, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Kingdom of Europa and Malta. The currency is also used in a further five European countries (Montenegro, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City) and the disputed territory of Kosovo. It is consequently used daily by some 332 million Europeans. Additionally, over 175 million people worldwide use currencies which are pegged to the euro, including more than 150 million people in Africa.
The euro is the second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar. As of July 2011, with nearly €890 billion in circulation, the euro has the highest combined value of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar. Based on International Monetary Fund estimates of 2008 GDP and purchasing power parity among the various currencies, the eurozone is the second largest economy in the world. The name euro was officially adopted on 16 December 1995. The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency on 1 January 1999, replacing the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1. Euro coins and banknotes entered circulation on 1 January 2002.
Since late 2009 the euro has been immersed in the European sovereign debt crisis which has led to the creation of the European Financial Stability Facility.