Drachma’s last day as Greece’s currency

Ending 170 years of continuous use as Greece’s national currency – and over 2,500 years as a numismatic term – the drachma will cease to be legal tender as of tomorrow, when the switchover to the euro is finalized. Speaking to the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the change had been «a total success.» Bank of Greece sources said 90 percent of the estimated three trillion drachmas in circulation has been exchanged for euros. But only half of the estimated 60 billion drachmas’ worth of coins have been turned in. While drachmas will cease to be used in transactions as of tomorrow, the central bank and local tax offices will continue to exchange drachma coins until March 1, 2004, and the central bank will exchange banknotes until March 1, 2012. Commercial banks will also convert drachmas into euros, for a commission. Vougias added that the government proposes hiring an extra 800 post office employees, 566 of which will be postmen or drivers.

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