Croatia's big day: Balkan nation adopts euro and joins Schengen zone

Croatia has officially adopted the euro as its currency, becoming the 20th European Union member state to do so.

The Balkan nation joined the EU nearly a decade ago, but had to wait until now to qualify as a Eurozone country.

After the clock struck midnight, Finance Minister Marko Primorac and National Bank Governor Boris Vujčić pulled out the first euro notes from a Croatian cash machine.

Meanwhile, the last driver to have their passport checked on the Croatia-Slovenia border was handed a congratulatory teddy bear.

Croatia has now also entered the Schengen zone - permitting open transport between participating countries - and that means frontier identity checks are now a thing of the past.

Experts say the adoption of the euro will help shield Croatia's economy at a time when inflation is soaring worldwide after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent food and fuel prices through the roof. But feelings among Croatians are mixed -- while they welcome the end of border controls, some worry about the euro switch, with right-wing opposition groups saying it only benefits large countries such as Germany and France.