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Canada releases a Canada-shaped coin

Step aside America, Canada just reinvented the coin.

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Megan Marples
Saeed Ahmed, CNN
CNN — Step aside America, Canada just reinvented the coin.

The Royal Canadian Mint decided to break the mold -- literally -- and design a coin in the shape of Canada in honor of Canada Day.

Erica Maga, product manager at the Royal Canadian Mint, told CNN this was a first for the Mint. The engineering and research and development teams worked together to create the innovative shape before the design was selected. The Mint reached out to artist Alisha Giroux, who had previously designed a Canadian map with a different animal for each province.

"I remembered that a few years ago, we had a meeting with Ms. Giroux where she had brought in a print of her map of Canada design," Maga said. "I knew at once it would be just perfect."

Giroux told CNN she had designed the Canadian map years ago just for fun so having her design on a coin was surreal.

"I cried happy tears," Giroux said. "I was ready to retire the design, and this was the best send-off I could ask for."

Giroux specializes in wildlife illustration, especially with Canadian animals.

"The map itself, with all its various islands and provincial shapes, often looked like animals to me growing up -- Baffin Island, for examples, looks like a dog on its back, and Newfoundland always resembled a dinosaur," Giroux said.

The limited-edition coin costs a whopping US $260 ($339 Canadian) and was only printed 2,000 times. Maga said the coin costs so much because it's is made from three ounces of pure silver and was difficult to manufacture.

"The coins were struck, and then the edges were finished before the coloured design was applied very carefully to ensure it aligned perfectly with the engraved relief," Maga said.

This isn't the first time the Mint has created unique coin shapes. They have made a variety of different shapes, including squares and the famous maple leaf. They also developed the world's first glow-in-the-dark circulation coins. Maga said Australia is the only other country, to her knowledge, that has designed a coin in the shape of their country.

The coin, titled "The Canadian Landscape," can be found here.

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