International trading of Europe's oldest currency - the Greek drachma - took place for the last time yesterday, three days before Greece officially joins the EU's single currency as its twelfth member on Monday.
Greek financial institutions will begin trading in the euro next Wednesday. The Athens Stock Exchange and Banks throughout Greece will remain closed on Tuesday to facilitate the transition.
But while yesterday was the last day of international trading for the drachma, the currency still has a year's worth of life. The euro will not be used for everyday transactions until the beginning of 2002, and officials aim to have phased out the drachma by March 2002.
The drachma - meaning "handful" in ancient Greek - was the standard silver coin of Greek antiquity. It is believed to have been first minted in about 650 BC in what is now western Turkey.
Produced separately by different city-states, the drachma was widely used in the ancient world. Spread by trade and conquest, it has been found as far away as Afghanistan. The modern drachma was revived in the 1830s after Greece gained independence from Ottoman rule as modern Hellenic state tried to evoke the spirit of classical Greece.
Greece, the only applicant which was refused entry into the euro zone in January 1999, was finally accepted at a EU summit in June.
Greece's year-on-year headline inflation rate rose last month to 4.2 per cent, one of the highest in the EU, from 4.0 per cent in October.
On its last trading day yesterday - the drachma, which was locked into the euro at its central parity of 340.75 to the euro in the EU's ERM-2 exchange rate mechanism - was quoted at 340.75/0.77 to the euro.
The euro will appear in an accounting form in all capital and money market transactions in Greece as of January. Euro notes and coins will start circulating in Greece in January 2002, and the drachma will cease to be legal tender two months later.