TALLINN, Estonia — The Baltic state of Estonia early Saturday became the 17th European Union member to adopt the joint European currency, the euro.
The small nation's decision to change from the Estonian kroon to the euro was the final step in a two decade-long effort to integrate its economy with Europe after it achieved independence in 1991. It is the first former Soviet republic to join the single currency club.
The inclusion of Estonia, a minuscule $19 billion economy, in the $12.5 trillion euro area is being touted for its symbolic importance after the currency was battered throughout 2010 by bad news. Two members — Greece and Ireland — required international bailout funds to avert bankruptcy.