Albanian lek

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Albanian lek
leku shqiptar  (Albanian)
ALBW2019-01000o.jpg Albanien2.jpg
1000 Leke banknoteLeke coins
ISO 4217
SymbolLek or L
 Freq. used200 Lek, 500 Lek, 1,000 Lek, 2,000 Lek, 5,000 Lek, 10,000 Lek
 Rarely used100 Lek
 Freq. used5 Lek, 10 Lek, 20 Lek, 50 Lek, 100 Lek
 Rarely used1 Lek, 50 Lek (2003 series)
Date of introduction16 February 1926
User(s)Albania Albania
Central bankBank of Albania
 SourceThe World Factbook, 2009 est.

The lek (Albanian: leku shqiptar; indefinite singular lek, definite plural lekët, indefinite plural lekë; sign: Lekë in Albanian[1] or Lek in English,[2] sometimes L;[3] code: ALL) is the official currency of Albania. It was formerly divided into 100 qintars (Albanian: qindarka; singular qindarkë), but qintar coins are no longer issued.


Alexander the Great on the first Albanian 1 Lek coin.

The lek was introduced as the first Albanian currency in February 1926.[4]

Before then, Albania was a country without a currency, adhering to a gold standard for the fixation of commercial values. Before the First World War the Ottoman Turkish piastre was in full circulation, but following the military occupation of the country by various continental powers the gold franc (Franc Germinal) was adopted as the monetary unit. In 1923 Italian paper circulated at Shkodër, Durrës, Vlorë, and Gjirokastër, and the Greek drachma at Korçë, the values of which varied according to locality and the prevailing rates of exchange as compared with gold.[5]


The lek was named after Alexander the Great,[6] whose name is often shortened to Leka in Albanian.[7] Alexander's portrait appeared on the obverse of the 1 lek coin, while the reverse showed him on his horse.

The word qindarkë comes from the Albanian qind, meaning one hundred, or from Arabic qintār ("hundredweight"). The word is thus comparable to centime, cent, Latin centenarius, etc.


Between 1926 and 1939 the main unit of Albanian currency was the franga ari (English: gold franc) (Fr.A.), worth 5 Lek and divided into 100 qindar ar (gold cent),[8] used in international transactions.[9] This unit was similar in concept to the Belga, a unit worth five Belgian francs.


First lek[edit]

In 1926, bronze coins were introduced in denominations of 5 and 10 qintars, together with nickel 14 Lek, 12 Lek and 1 Lek, and silver Fr.A. 1, Fr.A. 2 and Fr.A. 5 . The obverse of the franc coins depicts King Zog. In 1935, bronze 1 and 2 gold cents were issued, equal in value to the 5 and 10 qintars respectively. This coin series depicted distinct neoclassical motifs, said to have been influenced by the Italian king Victor Emmanuel III who was known to have been a coin collector. These coins depict the mint marks "R", "V" or "L", indicating Rome, Vienna or London.

Under the direction of Benito Mussolini, Italy invaded and occupied Albania and issued a new series of coins in 1939 in denominations of Lek 0.20, Lek 0.50, 1 Lek and 2  Lek in stainless steel, and silver 5 Lek, and 10 Lek. Aluminium-bronze Lek 0.05 and Lek 0.10 were introduced in 1940. A fixed exchange with the Italian lira was established at 5:6.25 (1 Lek = Lit.1.25, or Fr.A.1 = Lit.6.25). These coins were issued until 1941 and bear the portrait of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III on the obverse and the Albanian eagle with fasces on the reverse.

In 1947, shortly after the Communist Party took power, older coins were withdrawn from circulation and a new coinage was introduced, consisting of zinc 12 Lek, 1 Lek, 2 Lek and 5 Lek. These all depicted the socialist national crest. This coinage was again minted in 1957 and used until the currency reform of 1965.

Second lek[edit]

In 1965, a confiscatory monetary form was carried out at a rate of 10:1.

Aluminium coins (dated 1964) were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 qintars and 1 Lek. All coins show the socialist state emblem.

In 1969, a second series of aluminium 5, 10, 20, 50 qintars and 1 Lek coins was released commemorating the 1944 liberation from fascism. The three smallest denominations remained similar in design to the 1964 series but depicted "1944-1969" on the obverse. The 50 qintar and lek coins showed patriotic and military images.

In 1988, a third redesign of aluminium 5, 10, 20, 50 qintars and 1 Lek coins was released. The 50 qindarka and 1 Lek coins were problematically identical in size, weight, and appearance, so aluminium-bronze 1 Lek coins with the inscription "Republika Popullore Socialiste e Shqipërisë" were released later that year for better identification. In 1989, a cupro-nickel 2 Lek coin was introduced.

All three of these coin series remained in circulation during and shortly after the 1991 revolution.

Foreign exchange certificates[edit]

Similar to many other socialist countries, Albania issued foreign exchange certificates, which only circulated in specially designated shops, and their exchange into regular lek banknotes was prohibited.

Third lek[edit]

In 1995 and 1996, new coins were introduced in denominations of 1 Lek, 5 Lek, 10 Lek, 20 Lek and 50 Lek, with a bimetallic 100 Lek added in 2000.

Coins of the lek (1995–present)[10]
Image Value Technical parameters Description Dates
Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse Year of minting Year of issue
G823.jpg G824.jpg 1 Lek 18.1 mm 1.6 mm 3 g Bronze (1996), Copper-plated Steel (2008-2013) Smooth A pelican in the centre,
"Republika e Shqipërisë", year
Nominal value,
branches artistically carved in the form of a crown
1996, 2008, 2013 1996
G901.jpg G900.jpg 5 Lek 20 mm 1.6 mm 3.12 g Nickel-plated Steel Eagle from the Flag of Albania,
"Republika e Shqipërisë", year
1995, 2000, 2011, 2014, 2020 1995
G817.jpg G818.jpg 10 Lek 21.25 mm 1.5 mm 3.6 g Aluminum-bronze (1996-2000), Brass-plated Steel (2009-2018) Milled Berat Castle, "Republika e Shqipërisë", year 1996, 2000, 2009, 2013, 2018 1996
G392.jpg G393.jpg 20 Lek 23 mm 2 mm 4.6 g Aluminum-bronze (1996-2000), Brass-plated Steel (2012-2020) A Liburne ship, "Republika e Shqipërisë", year 1996, 2000, 2012, 2016, 2020 1996
G765.jpg G766.jpg 50 Lek 24.25 mm 1.5 mm 5.5 g Copper-nickel Portrait of the Illyrian King Gentius, Republika e Shqipërisë",
1996, 2000, 2020 1996
50 Lek 24.25 mm 5.5 g Copper-nickel An Illyrian helmet, "Republika e Shqipërisë", "Antikiteti Shqiptar", year[11][12] Nominal value, divided by a horizontal line and in the arch above "Antikiteti Shqiptar"[11][12] 2003 2004
G920.jpg G921.jpg 100 Lek 24.75 mm 1.9 mm 6.7 g Bi-Metallic: Aluminium-bronze centre in Copper-nickel ring Portrait of the Illyrian Queen Teuta, "Republika e Shqipërisë", year Nominal value,
branches artistically carved in the form of a crown
2000 2000
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.

Commemorative coins[edit]

In 2001, 100 Lek and 200 Lek were issued under the theme of Albania's integration into the EU and 50, 100, and 200 lekë under the 500th anniversary of the Statue of David. In 2002, 50 Lek and 100 Lek were issued for the 90th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania and 20 Lek under the Albanian Antiquity theme. In 2003, 50 lekë was issued in memory of the 100th anniversary of the death of Jeronim De Rada. In 2004, 50 Lek was issued under the Albanian Antiquity theme depicting traditional costumes of Albania and the ancient Dea. In 2005, 50 Lek were issued for the 85th anniversary of the proclamation of Tirana as capital and the theme of traditional costumes of Albania.


First lek[edit]

In 1926, the National Bank of Albania (Banka Kombëtare e Shqipnis) introduced notes in denominations of Fr.A. 1, Fr.A. 5, Fr.A. 20 and Fr.A. 100. In 1939, notes were issued in denominations of Fr.A. 5 and Fr.A. 20. These were followed in 1944 with notes for 2 Lek, 5 Lek, 10 Lek, and Fr.A. 100.

In 1945, the People's Bank of Albania (Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar) issued overprints on National Bank notes for 10 Lek, Fr.A. 20 and Fr.A. 100. Regular notes were also issued in 1945 in denominations of 1, Fr.A. 5, Fr.A. 20, Fr.A. 100 and Fr.A. 500. In 1947, the franga-ari was discontinued and the lek was adopted as the main currency unit, with notes issued for 10 Lek, 50 Lek, 100 Lek, 500 Lek and 1000 Lek.

1947 series
Obverse Reverse Value
ALB0019o.jpg ALB0019r.jpg 10 Lek
ALB0020o.jpg ALB0020r.jpg 50 Lek
ALB0021o.jpg ALB0021r.jpg 100 Lek
ALB0022o.jpg ALB0022r.jpg 500 lekë
ALB0023o.jpg ALB0023r.jpg 1,000 Lek
1949 and 1957 series
Obverse Reverse Value
10 lekë of Albania in 1949 Obverse.png 10 lekë of Albania in 1949 Reverse.png 10 Lek
50 lekë of Albania in 1949 Obverse.png 50 lekë of Albania in 1949 Reverse.png 50 Lek
100 lekë of Albania in 1949 Obverse.png 100 lekë of Albania in 1949 Reverse.png 100 Lek
500 lekë of Albania in 1949 Obverse.png 500 lekë of Albania in 1949 Reverse.png 500 Lek
1000 lekë of Albania in 1949 Obverse.png 1000 lekë of Albania in 1949 Reverse.png 1,000 Lek

Second lek[edit]

In 1965, notes (dated 1964) were introduced by the Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar in denominations of 1 Lek, 3 Lek, 5 Lek, 10 Lek, 25 Lek, 50 Lek and 100 Lek. A second series of notes was issued in 1976 when the country changed its name to the People's Socialist Republic.

1964 and 1976 series
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
ALB0033ao.jpg ALB0033ar.jpg 1 Lek Green Peasant couple with wheat Rozafa Castle, Shkodër
ALB0034ao.jpg ALB0034ar.jpg 3 Lek Brown Woman carrying basket of fruit Vlora
ALB0035ao.jpg ALB0035ar.jpg 5 Lek Purple Steam train and truck Ship
ALB0036ao.jpg ALB0036ar.jpg 10 Lek Green Woman working in a textile mill Bureaucrats and peasants socializing outside the Palace of Culture, Naim Frashëri
ALB0037ao.jpg ALB0037ar.jpg 25 Lek Dark blue Woman with wheat, combine harvesting Mechanized ploughing
ALB0038ao.jpg ALB0038ar.jpg 50 Lek Red Army on parade, Skanderbeg Mosin–Nagant rifle, pickaxe, apartment block under construction
ALB0039ao.jpg ALB0039ar.jpg 100 Lek Scarlet Man showing his son a new hydroelectric dam Steelworker with oil worker, gesturing grandly, steelworks and oil wells in background

1992 series[edit]

1992 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
ALB0055co.jpg ALB0055cr.jpg 100 Lek 154 × 72 mm Violet National fighter Falcon and mountains
ALB0056ao.jpg ALB0056ar.jpg 200 Lek 162 × 78 mm Brown Ismail Qemali Coat of arms of Albania, declaration of independence of Albania
ALB0057ao.jpg ALB0057ar.jpg 500 Lek 170 × 78 mm Blue Naim Frashëri Poetry of Frashëri
ALB0061co.jpg ALB0061cr.jpg 1,000 Lek 178 × 78 mm Green Skanderbeg Krujë Castle

1997 series[edit]

On 11 July 1997, a new series of banknotes dated 1996-97 was introduced.[13]

Notes dated 1996 were printed by De La Rue in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

In 2007, a 2000 Lek denomination was introduced in this series.

1996 Series[14]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
ALB0062o.jpg ALB0062r.jpg 100 Lek 130 × 66 mm Purple/Orange Fan S. Noli (1882–1965) First Albanian Parliament building
ALB0071-2012o.jpg ALB0071-2012r.jpg  200 Lek 138 × 69mm Brown Naim Frashëri (1846–1900) House birthplace of Frashëri
ALB0072-2015o.jpg ALB0072-2015r.jpg 500 Lek 145 × 68 mm Blue Ismail Qemali (1844–1919) Vlorë independence building
ALB0073bo.jpg ALB0073br.jpg 1,000 Lek 151 × 72 mm Green Pjetër Bogdani (1630–1689) Gothic Church of Vau
ALB0074-2012o.jpg ALB0074-2012r.jpg 2,000 Lek 160 x 72 mm Purple King Gent (Gentius) (181 BC–168 BC); three ancient coins Amphitheatre at Butrinto (near Saranda), yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)
ALB0075-2013o.jpg ALB0075-2013r.jpg 5,000 Lek 160 × 72 mm Olive Green Skanderbeg (1405–1468) Krujë Castle

2019–2022 series[edit]

The Bank of Albania in 2019 unveiled a new series of banknotes, featuring the same themes on both the front and back side of the notes, improved security features, and a change in material for the 200 Lek banknote, now issued as a polymer banknote. This series has also introduced a new denomination, 10,000 Lek, its highest denominated banknote issued for general circulation. The first two denominations issued for this series, the 200 and 5,000 lekë banknote were issued for circulation on 30 September 2019, while with the 1,000 Lek and 10,000 Lek banknotes were released on 30 June 2021. The 2,000 Lek and 500 Lek banknotes are planned for release by 2022. The 10,000 Lek note features Aleksandër Starve Drenova, commonly known as Asdreni, the lyricist of the Albanian national anthem. The reverse features the flag of Albania, a musical score, a music box, and the first two lines of Himni i Flamurit, the Albanian national anthem, which is "Rreth flamurit të përbashkuar, me një dëshirë e një qëllim.[15]

2019–2022 series[14]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
Albania-200lek-voor.jpg Albania-200lek-achter.jpg 200 Lek 125 mm x 65 mm Brown Naim Frashëri House birthplace of Frashëri
500Lek-768x405.png Lek500-new-768x406.png 500 Lek 132 mm x 69 mm Blue Ismail Qemali Vlorë independence building
1000lek-768x383.png 1000lek-new-768x395.png 1,000 Lek 139 mm x 69 mm Green Pjetër Bogdani Gothic Church of Vau
2000lek-768x376.png Albania-2000lek-achter.jpg 2,000 Lek 146 mm x 72 mm Purple King Gent (Gentius); three ancient coins Amphitheatre at Butrint (near Saranda), yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)
Albania-5000.jpg Albania-5000-(July-2019)-back-600dpi.jpg 5,000 Lek 153 mm x 72 mm Yellow Skanderbeg Krujë Castle
ALBW2019-10000o.jpg ALBW2019-10000r.jpg 10,000 Lek 160 mm x 72 mm Orange Asdreni (1872–1947) Figurative symbols of national flag, verse from the national anthem: “Rreth flamurit të përbashkuar me një dëshir’ e një qëllim”

Exchange rates[edit]

Current ALL exchange rates

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kartëmonedha të qarkullimit". Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Banknotes in circulation". Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  3. ^ "CIA World Factbook 1990 - page 3". 1 April 1990. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  4. ^ Bank of Albania. Available at:"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Trade Information Bulletin, Numbers 79 to 118, 1923
  6. ^ Leslie Alan Dunkling; Adrian Room (1 January 1990). The Guinness Book of Money. Guinness Publishing. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-85112-399-8. ...the lek takes its name from the abbreviated name of Alexander the Great, who was associated with this region of Europe...
  7. ^ Howard M. Berlin (2006). World Monetary Units: An Historical Dictionary, Country By Country. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7864-2080-3. ...The current monetary unit, the lek, is derived from the abbreviation of the Albanian spelling of Alexander the Great...
  8. ^ "Coins minted from 1926 to 1945". Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Albanian Gold Coins - Albania". Archived from the original on 5 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Coins in circulation".
  11. ^ a b "Monedha të qarkullimit". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  12. ^ a b "50 Lekë". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  13. ^ Bank of Albania. Available at: Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b Bank of Albania. Available at: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "New Series". Bank of Albania. Retrieved 11 December 2021.

External links[edit]