The German Empire was founded in 1871 unifying a number of previously disparate states to become one of the world’s great industrial, technical and military powers. The country was declared a federal republic in 1918. In the aftermath of World War II, Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1949 until 1990 when the county was reunified. The first German paper money was issued by the German Treasury in 1874. The Reichsbank was established 1876 and began issuing banknotes denominated in marks known as reichsbanknotes. In 1914, the link between paper money and gold was broken and Germany began valuing banknotes in papiermarks. Between 1921 and 1923, the country experienced on of history’s most dramatic hyperinflations, leading in 1924 to the introduction of the rentenmark, a transitional currency quickly replaced by the reichsmark. In 1948, West Germany and East Germany each independently began to issue Deutsche mark currency, both countries then using the West German Deutsche mark upon reunification. In 2001, Germany joined the European Union and adopted the euro.