Slovenia yesterday adopted the euro, crowning its 15-year transition from a republic in socialist Yugoslavia to the continent's most advanced post-communist economy.

Many feared price hikes after wealthy Slovenia, which lies just south of Austria, became the euro zone's 13th member, in its first expansion since the currency was introduced in 2002. None of nine other countries that joined the EU with Slovenia in 2004 are likely to adopt the euro before 2009.

Finance Minister Andrej Bajuk withdrew €100 from a cash machine at Slovenia's largest bank, NLB, in downtown Ljubljana shortly after the midnight switch.

Officials said the first hours of euro adoption passed smoothly. More than 92% of cash dispensers, which had stopped working three hours before midnight to allow time for the switchover, were operating again by Monday afternoon.

A recent opinion poll showed about 40 percent of Slovenians fear prices will rise on account of the euro. Slovenia, whose declaration of independence from Yugoslavia prompted a 10-day war in 1991, is now the wealthiest of the EU's ex-communist newcomers.