The arrival of 2008 has seen the adoption of the euro currency by the people of Cyprus. The changeover is being hailed as an historic moment on the Mediterranean island. Cyprus only joined the European Union in 2004. Euro zone entry is only applicable in the Greek Cypriot south, run by the internationally recognized government representing Cyprus in the bloc.
But while the party in Nicosia went with a swing, not all Cypriots are convinced. Polls suggest that around two-thirds of people fear price rises may follow. Another former British colony, Malta, has also made the switch.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi led by example. Flanked by photographers and camera crews, he withdrew euro banknotes from a cash machine in Valletta. Malta too only joined the EU in 2004.
Already enjoying a tourism boom with the arrival of low-cost airlines, it hopes the introduction of the euro will further boost its economy. The two new members mark the euro zone’s expansion to 15 countries.