|български лев (Bulgarian)|
|ISO 4217 code||BGN|
|Central bank||Bulgarian National Bank|
|Pegged with||euro = 1.95583 leva|
|Nickname||lev – kint ; 1,000 leva – bon
stotinka – kamuk ; money – mangizi 
|Plural||levove, numeric: leva|
|Coins||1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 stotinki, 1 lev|
|Freq. used||2, 5, 10 leva|
|Rarely used||1, 20, 50 leva|
The lev (Bulgarian: лев, plural: лева, левове / leva, levove) is the currency of Bulgaria. It is divided in 100 stotinki (стотинки, singular: stotinka, стотинка). In archaic Bulgarian the word "lev" meant "lion", a word which in the modern language became lav (лъв).
First lev, 1881–1952
The lev was introduced as Bulgaria's currency in 1881 with a value equal to the French franc. The gold standard was suspended between 1899 and 1906 before being suspended again in 1912. Until 1916, Bulgaria's silver and gold coins were issued to the same specifications as those of the Latin Monetary Union. Banknotes issued until 1928 were backed by gold ("leva zlato" or "zlatni", "лева злато" or "златни") or silver ("leva srebro" or "srebarni", "лева сребро" or "сребърни").
In 1928, a new gold standard of 1 lev = 10.86956 mg gold was established.
During World War II, in 1940, the lev was pegged to the German Reichsmark at a rate of 32.75 leva = 1 Reichsmark. With the Soviet occupation in September 1944, the lev was pegged to the Soviet ruble at 15 leva = 1 ruble. A series of pegs to the U.S. dollar followed: 120 leva = 1 dollar in October 1945, 286.50 leva in December 1945 and 143.25 leva in March 1947. No coins were issued after 1943; only banknotes were issued until the currency reform of 1952.
Second lev, 1952–1962
In 1952, following wartime inflation, a new lev replaced the original lev at a rate of 1 "new" lev = 100 "old" leva. However the rate for banking accounts was different, ranging from 100:3 to 200:1. Prices for goods were replaced at a rate of 25:1. The new lev was pegged to the U. S. dollar at a rate of 6.8 leva = 1 dollar, falling to 9.52 leva on July 29, 1957.
Third lev, 1962–1999
In 1962, another redenomination took place at the rate of 10 to 1, setting the exchange rate at 1.17 leva = 1 U. S. dollar, with the tourist rate falling to 2 leva on February 1, 1964. The ISO 4217 code was BGL. After this, the lev remained fairly stable for almost three decades. However, like other Communist countries' currencies, it was not freely convertible for Western funds. Consequently, black market rates were five to ten times higher than the official rate . During the period, until 1989 the lev was backed by gold, and the banknotes have the text stating: "The bank note is backed by gold and all assets of the bank" (Bulgarian: "Банкнотата е обезпечена със злато и всички активи на банката").
After the fall of communism, Bulgaria experienced several episodes of drastic inflation and currency devaluation. In order to change this, in 1997, the lev was pegged to the Deutsche Mark, with 1000 lev equal to 1 DM (one lev equal to 0.1 pfennig).
Fourth lev, 1999–today
On 5 July 1999 the lev was redenominated at 1000:1 with 1 new lev equal to 1 Deutsche Mark. The ISO 4217 currency code for the new Bulgarian lev is BGN. The currency was no longer backed by gold and silver, this was made evident by the banknotes losing the text stating the lev was backed by gold or bank assets.
With the replacement of the Deutsche Mark by the euro, the lev's peg effectively switched to the euro, at the rate of 1.95583 leva = 1 euro, which is the Deutsche Mark's fixed exchange rate to euro. Since 1997, Bulgaria has been in a system of currency board and all Bulgarian currency in circulation has been backed 100% by the foreign exchange reserves of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB). The rate is unlikely to change before the lev's retirement. On 25 April 2005, when Bulgaria's EU accession treaty was signed, the BNB issued a commemorative coin with the face value of 1.95583 leva. The lev was expected to be replaced by the euro on 1 January 2012, however some recent analysis says that Bulgaria will not be able to join earlier than 2015, due to their inflation problems and the impact of the global financial crisis of 2008. However, in February 2009, The Economist suggested accelerating Bulgaria's path to the euro, or even letting it be adopted immediately.
Between 1881 and 1884, bronze 2, 5 and 20 stotinki, and silver 50 stotinki, 1, 2 and 5 leva were introduced, followed, in 1888, by cupro-nickel 2½, 5, 10 and 20 stotinki. Gold 10 and 20 leva were issued in 1894. Bronze 1 stotinka were introduced in 1901.
Production of silver coins ceased in 1916, with zinc replacing cupro-nickel in the 5, 10 and 20 stotinki in 1917. In 1923, aluminum 1 and 2 leva coins were introduced, followed by cupro-nickel pieces in 1925. In 1930, cupro-nickel 5 and 10 leva and silver 20, 50 and 100 leva were introduced, with silver coins issued until 1937, in which year aluminium-bronze 50 stotinki were issued.
In 1940, cupro-nickel 20 and 50 leva were issued, followed, in 1941, by iron 1, 2, 5 and 10 leva. In 1943, nickel-clad-steel 5, 10 and 50 leva were struck. These were the last coins issued for this version of the lev.
In 1952, coins (dated 1951) were introduced in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10 and 25 stotinki, with the lower three denominations in brass and the higher three in cupro-nickel. Shortly after, cupro-nickel 20 stotinki coins dated 1952 were also issued, followed by 50 stotinki in 1959 and 1 lev in 1960 (both also in cupro-nickel). All stotinki coins feature a head of wheat around denomination on the reverse and state emblem on the obverse, while the lev coin depicts an olive branch wreath around the denomination.
In 1962, brass 1, 2 and 5 stotinki, and nickel-brass 10, 20 and 50 stotinki and 1 lev were introduced. The coin series strongly resembles coinage from the Soviet Union during the same period, particularly in design and size.
The state emblem is depicted on the obverse of all coins, which went through several changes. The first change in 1962 with the introduction of the new coinage, and the second change in 1974, with the ribbons being the most noticeable change.
A number of commemorative 2 lev coins also circulated during this period, often released into circulation as they had relatively high production numbers and little collector's value.
|Communist era coins|
|1 stotinka||15.2 mm||1 g||Brass||Coat of Arms||Denomination and date||1962-90|
|2 stotinki||18.1 mm||2 g|
|5 stotinki||22.35 mm||3.1 g|
|10 stotinki||17.1 mm||1.8 g||Nickel-brass|
|20 stotinki||21.2 mm||2.9 g|
|50 stotinki||23.3 mm||4.2 g|
|1 lev||24 mm||4.8 g|
In 1992, after the demise of communism, older coins were withdrawn and a new coinage was introduced in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 stotinki, 1, 2, 5 and 10 leva. All were struck in nickel-brass except for the cupro-nickel 10 leva. In 1997, nickel-brass 10, 20 and 50 leva were introduced.
In 1999, coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 stotinki were introduced. A 1 lev coin in 2002 replaced the 1 lev banknote introduced in 1999. The 1, 2 and 5 stotinki are struck in brass-plated steel, and the 10, 20 and 50 stotinki in cupro-nickel; each depicts Saint George on its obverse. The 1 lev coin is bimetallic and depicts St. Ivan Rilski on its obverse.
In 1885, the Bulgarian National Bank introduced notes for 20 and 50 gold leva, followed in 1887 by 100 gold leva and, in 1890, by 5 and 10 gold leva notes. In 1899, 5, 10 and 50 silver leva notes were issued, followed by 100 and 500 silver leva in 1906 and 1907, respectively. 500 gold leva notes were also introduced in 1907.
In 1916, 1 and 2 silver leva and 1000 gold leva notes were introduced, followed by 2500 and 10,000 gold leva notes in 1919. In 1924, 5000 leva notes were issued, the first to lack a metal designation. In 1928, a new series of notes (dated 1922 and 1925) was introduced which gave the denominations solely in leva. Denominations introduced were 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 leva. These were followed in 1929 by 200 and 250 leva.
In 1930, coins up to 100 leva replaced notes, although 20-lev notes were issued between 1943 and 1950. Between 1943 and 1945, State Treasury Bills for 1000 and 5000 leva were issued.
In 1952, state notes (dated 1951) were issued in 1, 3 and 5 leva, together with notes of the National Bank for 10, 25, 50, 100 and 200 leva. 500-lev notes were printed but not issued.
200 leva 1951
200 leva 1951
500 leva 1951
500 leva 1951
In 1962, the National Bank issued notes for 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 leva. A second series, in the same denominations, was issued in 1974. 50 leva notes were introduced in 1990. After the fall of the communist regime, new notes were introduced for 20, 50, 100 and 200 leva. These were followed by 500 leva notes in 1993, 1000 and 2000 leva in 1994, 5000 and 10,000 leva in 1996, and 50,000 leva in 1997.
In 1999, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 leva. 100 leva notes were added in 2003. The 1 lev note has been replaced in everyday use by the 1 lev coin.
|1999 series |
|Image||Value (BGN)||Value (€)||Dimensions||Main Colour||Description||Date of printing||Remark|
|||||1 lev||€0.51||112 × 60 mm||Red||Ivan Rilski||Rila Monastery||Rampant lion||1999||Rarely seen in circulation, replaced by coin|
|||||2 leva||€1.02||116 × 64 mm||Violet||Paisiy Hilendarski||Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya||1999, 2005|
|||||5 leva||€2.55||121 × 67 mm||Red||Ivan Milev||Paintings by Ivan Milev||Ivan Milev||1999, 2009|
|||||10 leva||€5.11||126 × 70 mm||Green||Petar Beron||Astronomical instruments||Petar Beron||1999, 2008||This design was also used for the 10,000 BGL (third leva) banknote|
|||||20 leva||€10.22||131 × 73 mm||Blue||Stefan Stambolov||Orlov most, Lavov most||Stefan Stambolov||1999, 2007||The most common banknote produced by ATMs|
|||||50 leva||€25.55||136 × 76 mm||Brown||Pencho Slaveykov||Poems by Pencho Slaveykov||Pencho Slaveykov||1999, 2006|
|||||100 leva||€51.11||141 × 79 mm||Green||Aleko Konstantinov||Aleko Konstantinov||Aleko Konstantinov; his work "Bay Ganyu" (Uncle Ganyu)||2003|
|These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre.|
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- Bulgaria and the euro
- Commemorative coins of Bulgaria
- Economy of Bulgaria
- Medieval Bulgarian coinage
- The nickname for lev can be both kint (masc) and kinta (fem), inflected accordingly for plurals and numerical values (kinta, kinti); stotinka – which literally simply means hundredth (diminutive) – is usually shortened to stinka or stishka, while kamuk literally means stone.
- "Prof. Dr. Ivan Angelov: Bulgaria needs a managed floating exchange rate". Retrieved 2009-01-12.
- "Bulgaria's budget of reform". The Sofia Echo. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- "Let Bulgaria adopt the euro". Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- Krause, Chester L., and Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501.
- Pick, Albert (1994). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (7th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-207-9.