Latvia Adopts the Euro As National Currency

Former Soviet state becomes 18th nation to use the troubled European currency

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Ints Kalnins / Reuters

Latvia's Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis poses for the media with the euro banknote during an official event in Riga on Jan. 1, 2014.

Latvia has adopted the euro, becoming the 18th country to use the troubled European currency.

The Baltic nation’s leaders view Eurozone membership as vital to strengthening ties with the West. Latvia broke away from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Nevertheless, the move has not been universally welcomed — polls show around half the Eastern European nation’s population opposes the switch. Latvia’s own currency, “lats,” is viewed by many citizens as a symbol of independence. The E.U.’s fiscal woes have also been a cause for concern.