Nikola Tesla appears on coins as Croatia joins the euro

Former Yugoslav republic fulfilled conditions for joining the euro zone last summer

The number of countries using the euro reached 20 this weekend as Croatia adopted the single currency.

The coastal country of just under four million people simultaneously joined the euro zone and the Schengen area of free travel on January 1st.

The date marks the end of a long road for those who advocated for the greater European Union integration of a major tourism economy which gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

The shift means that new Croatian-designed coins will appear in circulation. The new 50, 20, and 10 cent coins bear the face of inventor Nikola Tesla, who was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan in modern-day Croatia.


The one euro coin features a marten, which is Croatia’s national animal and gave its name to the outgoing currency, the kuna, because of the history of its fur pelts as a unit of exchange. The coins also include the Croatian checkerboard, a national symbol that features in the flag.

The shift comes after EU member states agreed that Croatia had fulfilled the conditions to join the euro this summer, and determined a conversion rate of 7.5345 kuna to one euro.

The outgoing currency can still be used in shops in Croatia for two weeks after the switchover and can be exchanged for euro at post offices and banks until the end of the year. The Croatian central bank will continue to accept kuna for a longer period.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen described it as a “proud” moment for the EU and for Croatian citizens.

“Croatians are joining a community of 347 million Europeans who are using the euro in their everyday lives,” she said. “This is a major achievement for Croatia, a symbol of its deep-rooted attachment to the EU, and a symbolic moment for the euro area as a whole.”

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times