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What? This country just joined the euro zone

To qualify, Lithuania had to meet five economic “convergence criteria,” including price and exchange rate stability and low levels of government debt and deficit. Its people will exchange their Lithuanian litas at a rate of 3.4528 to the euro.

Lithuania is following in the footsteps of other former Eastern bloc countries which joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 and went on to enter the euro zone. These include Estonia and Slovakia, and most lately, neighboring Latvia.

Lithuania’s ascension comes at a worrying time for the currency union, which has struggled to recover from the regional debt crisis that peaked in 2010.

Nonetheless, euro zone membership marks an apex for many countries striving to integrate with the West—the significance of which has been highlighted by the upturn in tension between Russia and the European Union and U.S. following the Kremlin’s incursions in Ukraine last year.

Read MoreUkraine: Is it time to buy?

A fledgling euro zone recovery at the end of 2013 failed to take flight and euro zone economic growth is seen averaging a weak 0.8 percent for 2014. Meanwhile, inflation is well below the 2 percent level targeted by the European Central Bank and unemployment remains very high in several countries.

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