Greece Currency

Greece Currency In antiquity, the main Greek currency was the drachma. Its name derives from a verb meaning “to grasp”; it was used as currency as early as 1100 BC, and it consisted of a fistful (a “grasp”) of six oboloi. Ancient Greek coins were not officially named and each city minted its own coins, using characteristic inscriptions. The drachma was used by many Greek cities, including Athens, Chios, Corinth, Kos, Naxos, Sparta, Thasos and many more. The most widely used coin in Classical Greece was probably the tetradrachm (four drachmas), which was used in 5th century BC Athens. It featured the bust of Athena on its front and an owl on its back. During the Hellenistic period, which is after Alexander the Great’s conquests, the drachma was used in various places in the Middle East and Arabia.

Many centuries later, after the creation of the Modern Greek state, the first governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias introduced the phoenix as the currency of Greece, subdivided in 100 lepta (cents). The phoenix was meant to remind of the mythical bird, symbolizing the rebirth of Greece after centuries of enslavement. The phoenix replaced the Turkish kurus that was in use up to that point. However, in 1832, when Otto was appointed King of Greece, the drachma was reintroduced, consisting of 100 lepta as well.

During the German occupation of Greece, the looting of the treasury and hyperinflation resulted in the creation of 100 billion drachma notes. In 1944, after the liberation of the country, the second drachma replaced the old bank notes at a rate of 50 billion to 1. However, the new currency also suffered from high inflation, causing the government to join the Bretton Woods system in 1953 and introduce the third drachma at a rate of 1000 old drachmas to 1. The drachma was eventually replaced on 1 January 2002, when Greece joined the European Monetary Union, officially adopting the euro as its currency. The Greek coins of the Euro draw their theme from the history of the country; the coins for 0.01, 0.02 and 0.05 depict a 5th century BC trireme, a 19th century corvette and a modern tanker. The 0.10, 0.20 and 0.50 coins depicted three of the most important figures in recent Greek history, Rigas Feraios, Ioannis Kapodistrias and Eleftherios Venizelos. Finally, the 1 euro coin has the depiction of a tetradrachm of Ancient Athens, while the 2 euro coin shows the abduction of Europa by Zeus, who was transformed in a bull.

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