When you take the bus to the airport you will hear them announce, “Terminal 1 for flights within the Schengen” and “Terminal 2 for flights outside of the Schengen”. Did you ever wonder what it meant? Here’s a quick and useful geography lesson.
The European Union consists of 28 countries. But there are two groups of countries within the EU that you should understand, Schengen and Euro-zone. The Schengen countries are of interest to you if you like to travel. They are the countries within the EU that are borderless! This means that there is no border control and you don’t need to get an extra visa (if you already have a visa to one Schengen country).
The majority of EU countries are also Schengen, on the map below you see them in light blue. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are dark blue and they are not in the EU but they are in the Schengen. The United Kingdon and Ireland are part of the EU but they are not in the Schengen. This map dates before 2007, so the green states are all part of the EU now with Croatia as the newest member the summer of 2013.
The Euro-zone is a lot easier to understand. Countries in the Euro-zone simply use Euros as their currency. The Czech Republic for example is not part of the Euro-zone but plans on joining eventually. Most countries within the EU do accept Euros in bigger stores and restaurants even if they aren’t in the Euro-zone but not always at a fair rate. So now you know where you need a Visa and where to use Euros. For more information about the EU, please check out their website in one of the 24 official languages: http://europa.eu/