The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency in 1999 and launched as physical coins and banknotes on 1 January 2002. It replaced the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1. The euro is managed and administered by the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem (composed of the central banks of the euro zone countries). As an independent central bank, the ECB has sole authority to set monetary policy. The Eurosystem participates in the printing, minting and distribution of notes and coins in all member states, and the operation of the Eurozone payment systems.
Madrid is the capital of Spain, and the largest city in Spain. It is located on the river Manzanares in the center of the country, between the Autonomous Communities of Castilla y Leon and Castilla la Mancha. Madrid is also the capital of the Community of Madrid, an uniprovincial Autonomous Community. Due to its geographical location, wealth and history, Madrid is considered one of the financial centers of the Iberian Peninsula, together with Lisbon, and the political center of Spain.
As the capital of the former Spanish Empire, Madrid is a city of great cultural and political importance. While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; the Buen Retiro park, opened in 1631; an archaeological museum of international reputation; and three superb art museums.