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Currencies have been made easier in Europe by the euro replacing many previous currencies. For example, Spain once being the peseta, that I once pronounced as potato, and Greece’s drachma, that I could not spell for the life of me with its silent ‘h’. As a point of reference, too, currencies are not generally capitalized. Anyway, putting these points of English aside, we shall explore the main currencies that feature in world lists.

Pound

The British pound, or sterling, to which it is often referred, is used in Great Britain, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It is distinguishable by the way it is now divided into 100 pence. The pound is also as a currency, but in name only, for Egypt, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Lebanon, Saint Helena -Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.

The British pound is 1,200 years old. It dates to approximately 775AD, when “sterlings” (silver pennies) were the main currency of the Anglo-Saxons. To possess 240 of them would mean that you had one pound in weight. This would have been quite a sum during the 8th century.

It was on 15 February 1971 that 5p, 1p, and 2p coins, were introduced in completing Britain’s change-over to decimal currency. Prior to this, the symbol ‘d’ and not ‘p’ would represent pence, and there would be 240 pennies to the pound. The change-over process resulted in banks being closed for four days to prepare.

The symbol for the British pound can be traced to continental Europe and the Roman era. The name pound in Latin is “poundus”, which means “weight”. The symbol itself is an ornate representation of the L in Libra. Libra is, of course, the star sign that represents Libra birthdays.

Euros

It was on 1 January 1999 that the Euro was launched. During its first three years, it was an “invisible currency”. It was just used for electronic payment and accounting purposes. The actual coins and banknotes became available from 1 January 2002, applying to 12 EU countries. The symbol for the euro currency is based on the Greek letter for epsilon, making the first letter represent “Europe”. The two horizontal parallel lines through it are to signify stability. Not that it has seen much of that of late. The euro’s ISO code is EUR, which can be used to avoid the need to use the symbol.

Dollars

The dollar is the most widely used of the currencies in the world. We straight away think of the American dollar, represented by the letter S with a vertical line through it, but there are many more counties using the dollar name for their currency. Countries from Antigua and Barbuda to Zimbabwe. There is also an Australian dollar and a New Zealand dollar. However, just the US dollar, established in 1785 as an official currency, is used in 16 countries. It is thought of as the main currency with regard to international trade.

Rand claims that the dollar sign, written in this case with two vertical lines through it, was born from the initials of the US. A capital U that has been superimposed over a capital S and minus the lower part of the U.

Bitcoins

A Bitcoin is simply a computer file that is stored inside a “digital wallet” app and which sits on a computer or smartphone. People will send Bitcoin (or a part of one) to another person’s “digital wallet”. These single transactions are all recorded on a public list referred to as the “blockchain”. This makes it a currency that can be used the world over. Bitcoins can be converted to cash my moving them into a bank account. They are sold on a cryptocurrency exchange such as Coinbase or Kraken.

So, wherever you are in the world, you can trade with others. Just spend it wisely.

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