Lebanese pound


The Lebanese pound or lira (Arabic: ليرة لبنانية līra Libnāniyya; French: livre libanaise; sign: ل.ل., ISO 4217: LBP) is the currency of Lebanon. It used to be divided into 100 piastres (or qirsh) but because of high inflation during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) the use of subdivisions was discontinued.

Lebanese pound
ليرة لبنانية (Arabic)
Livre libanaise  (French)
Billet 1000 Lebanese Pounds, written in Arabic on one side and French on the other side
ISO 4217
CodeLBP
Denominations
Subunit
1100piastre
Symbolل.ل.
LL (international)
Banknotes1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 Lebanese Pounds
CoinsFrequently used: 250, 500 Rarely used: 25, 50, 100
Demographics
User(s) Lebanon
Issuance
Central bankBanque du Liban
Websitewww.bdl.gov.lb
Valuation
Inflation4.5%
SourceThe World Factbook, 2017 est.
Pegged withU.S. dollar
$1 US = 1507 LBP[1]
Black market exchange rate has diverged significantly; see article text

The plural form of lira, as used in relation to the currency, is either lirat (ليرات līrāt) or invariant, whilst there were four forms for qirsh: the dual qirshān (قرشان) used with number 2, the plural qurush (قروش) used with numbers 3–10, the accusative singular qirshan (قرشا) used with 11–99, and the genitive singular qirshi (قرش) used with multiples of 100. The number determines which plural form is used. Before World War II, the Arabic spelling of the subdivision was غرش (girsh). All of Lebanon's coins and banknotes are bilingual in Arabic and French.

Since December 1997, the exchange rate has been fixed at 1,507.5 Lebanese pounds per U.S. dollar.[2] However since the 2020 economic crisis in Lebanon exchange at this rate is generally unavailable, and an informal currency market has developed with much higher exchange rates.[3]

History


Until World War I, the Ottoman lira was the currency used in the area. In 1918, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Egyptian pound was used. Upon gaining control of Syria and Lebanon, the French replaced the Egyptian pound with a new currency for Syria and Lebanon, the Syrian pound, which was linked to the French franc at a value of 1 pound = 20 francs. Lebanon issued its own coins from 1924 and banknotes from 1925. In 1939, the Lebanese currency was officially separated from that of Syria, though it was still linked to the French franc and remained interchangeable with Syrian money. In 1941, following France's defeat by Nazi Germany, the currency was linked instead to the British pound sterling at a rate of 8.83 Lebanese pounds = 1 pound sterling.[4] A link to the French franc was restored after the war, but was abandoned in 1949.

Before the Lebanese Civil War, 1 U.S. dollar was worth 3 Lebanese pounds. During the Civil War, the value decreased rapidly until 1992, when one US dollar was worth over 2,500 Lebanese pounds. Subsequently the value increased again, and since December 1997 the official rate has been fixed at 1507.5 Lebanese pounds = US$1.[2]

In August 2019, pressure on the fixed exchange rate with the U.S. dollar started, creating a parallel market rate. The two-rate market is a textbook case of weakening Central Bank reserves that are not able to defend the official exchange rate. Continuous financial pressures driven by unsustainable sovereign debt, high trade deficit and deposit outflows due to loss of confidence are threatening the peg for the first time since 1992.

As of 3 March 2021, the black market rate in Beirut was 10,000 Lebanese pounds = 1 U.S. dollar.[5] By June 2021, it was around 15,150 to the dollar.[6]

Coins


Lebanon's first coins were issued in 1924 in denominations of 2 and 5 girush (note the different spelling from post WWII coins) with the French denominations given in "piastres syriennes" (Syrian piastres). Later issues did not include the word "syriennes" and were in denominations of 12, 1, 2, 2+12, 5, 10, 25 and 50 girsha. During World War II, rather crude 12, 1 and 2+12 girsh coins were issued.

After the war, the Arabic spelling was changed from girsh (غرش) to qirsh (قرش). Coins were issued in the period 1952 to 1986 in denominations of 1, 2+12, 5, 10, 25 and 50 qirsh and 1 lira. No coins were issued between 1986 and 1994, when the current series of coins was introduced.

Coins in current use are:[7]

Coins of the Lebanese Pound
ImageValueTechnical parametersColorDate of
issue
ObverseReverseDiameterThicknessMassMetal
Coins no longer in circulation[8]
5 قروش 18 mm 2.2 g Copper-nickel-aluminium Golden yellow 1968
1969
1972
1975
10 قروش 21 mm 3.2 g Copper-nickel-aluminium Golden yellow 1968
1969
1970
1972
1975
25 قرشاً 23.5 mm 4 g Copper-nickel-aluminium Golden yellow 1968
1969
1970
1972
1975
1980
50 قرشاً ً 24 mm 6 g Nickel White nickel 1968
1969
1970
1971
1975
1978
1980
1 ل.ل. 27.5 mm 8 g Nickel White nickel 1975
1977
1980
1981
27 mm 7.22 g Nickel-plated steel White nickel 1986
Coins in circulation[7]
25 ل.ل. 20.5 mm 1.3 mm 2.8 g Nickel-plated steel White nickel 2002
50 ل.ل. 19 mm 1.15 mm 2.25 g Stainless steel White nickel 1996
21.5 mm 1.67 mm 3g Nickel-plated steel 2006
100 ل.ل. 22.5 mm 1.80 mm 4 g Zinc and copper Red copper 1995
1996
2000
100 ل.ل. 22.5 mm 1.83 mm 4 g Steel and nickel White 2003
100 ل.ل. 22.5 mm 1.80 mm
1.60 mm
4 g Steel and copper Red copper 2006
2009
250 ل.ل. 23.5 mm 1.82 mm 5 g Copper and aluminium Yellow gold 1995
1996
2000
2003
1.65 mm Nordic Gold Nordic Gold 2006
2009
2012
500 ل.ل. 24.5 mm 2.05 mm 6 g Nickel-plated steel White 1995
1996
2000
2003
2006
2009
2012
For table standards, see the coin specification table.

Banknotes


An obsolete 100 Lebanese Pound note

Lebanon's first banknotes were issued by the Banque du Syrie et Grand-Liban (Bank of Syria and Greater Lebanon) in 1925. Denominations ran from 25 girsha through to 100 pounds. In 1939, the bank's name was changed to the Bank of Syria and Lebanon. The first 250 Lebanese pound notes appeared that year. Between 1942 and 1950, the government issued "small change" paper money in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 girsh or qirsh (the change in spelling occurred during these years). After 1945, the Bank of Syria and Lebanon continued to issue paper money for Lebanon but the notes were denominated specifically in "Lebanese pounds" (ليرة لبنانية, livre libanaise) to distinguish them from Syrian notes. Notes for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 Lebanese pounds were issued.

The Banque du Liban (Bank of Lebanon) was established by the Code of Money and Credit on 1 April 1964.[9] On 1 August 1963 decree No. 13.513 of the "Law of References: Banque Du Liban 23 Money and Credit" granted the Bank of Lebanon the sole right to issue notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 250 Lebanese pounds, expressed in Arabic on the front, and French (livres) on the back. Higher denominations were issued in the 1980s and 1990s as inflation drastically reduced the currency's value.

Banknotes in current use are:

Circulating banknotes[10]
ImageValueDimensionsMain colorDate of issue
1,000 ل.ل. 156 × 67 mm Teal 1988
1990
1991
1992
115 × 60 mm 2004
2008
2011
2012
5,000 ل.ل. 156 × 67 mm Pink 1994
1995
140 × 70 mm 1999
2001
120 × 62 mm 2004
2008
2012
10,000 ل.ل. 145 × 73 mm Yellow 1998
127 × 66 mm 2004
2008
2012
20,000 ل.ل. 150 × 80 mm Red 1994
1995
2001
130 × 72 mm 2004
2012
50,000 ل.ل. 150 × 80 mm Blue 1994
1995
1999
2001
140 × 77 mm 2004
2011
2012
100,000 ل.ل. 161 × 90 mm Green 1994
1995
1999
2001
147 × 82 mm 2004
2011
2012
For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

All current notes feature an Arabic side with the value in Arabic script numerals of large size. The other side is in French with the serial number in both Arabic and Latin script and in bar code below the latter one.

Devaluation


Since September 2019, the exchange rate has forked into multiple distinct rates due to Lebanon's banking sector collapse. Within 6 months, 6 distinct Lebanese pound rates were defined against the US dollar, officially and unofficially. On March 16, 2021 they were valued at:

  • Official government rate = 1,507.5
  • Official syndicate rate = 3,850–3,900
  • "Lollar" (bank withdrawals of USD in LBP) = 3,900
  • Parallel market rate = 3,800
  • Banker's cheque rate = 33c/$
  • Black market rate = 14,000-15,000 (by June 2021)

Lollar

The "Lollar" is a deposit denominated in US dollars in the Lebanese banking system. It is a nominal balance stuck or frozen in the Lebanese banks, with currency value simply as a computer entry. The Lollar is not a tangible currency, but is a concept of an outstanding deposit in US dollars in Lebanese banks that can only be withdrawn in Lebanese pounds at a very reduced set rate[11] and considerably lower than the highly speculative black market rate which is multiple times higher. There are also limits put on the total amount that can be withdrawn on the lollars. The symbol of the lollar is lol.[12][13] The term was coined by Harvard University economic fellow Dan Azzi[14] after the Lebanese banks suffered serious difficulties and restricted the amount of US dollars and other foreign currencies they could pay to their depositors.

See also


Current LBP exchange rates
From Google Finance: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD
From Yahoo! Finance: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD
From XE.com: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD
From OANDA: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD
From fxtop.com: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD

References


  1. "About Banque du Liban | History of Banque du Liban". www.bdl.gov.lb. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  2. "Economic & Financial Data". Banque du Liban. Archived from the original on 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  3. "Lebanese banks raise USD withdrawal rate to 3,850 pounds/dollar". Reuters. 29 June 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  4. "Payment Media, Banknotes and Coins – The Historical Development of the Lebanese Pound". Banque du Liban. Archived from the original on 2008-12-26. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  5. "Protesters shut down roads as Lebanon pound hits all-time low". France 24. 2021-03-03. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  6. Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  7. "Coins in Circulation". Banque du Liban. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  8. "Coins Out of Circulation". Banque du Liban. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  9. Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Lebanon". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: www.BanknoteNews.com.
  10. "Banknotes in Circulation". www.bdl.gov.lb. Banque du Liban. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  11. Heidi Moura (July 19, 2020). "Lebanese 'Lollars' – How American Currency Has Become The Face Of A Country's Downfall". The Organization for World Peace. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  12. Leyal Khalife (16 January 2020). "'LOLLAR' At Me: A term coined after the fall of the Lebanese banking system". Stepfeed. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  13. Finance4Lebanon: The Lollar
  14. Souad Lazkani (January 25, 2021). "Lebanese Filmmaker Says You Can Change 'Lollars' To Dollars By Investing In Movies". the961.com. Retrieved March 16, 2021.