Lebanese pound

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Lebanese pound
ليرة لبنانية (Arabic)
Livre libanaise  (French)
Billet de 1000 livres libanaises.jpg
£L1,000 note, using Arabic on the obverse and French on the reverse
ISO 4217
CodeLBP
Denominations
Subunit
1100piastre
SymbolNone official. The abbreviations £L, LL or ل.ل. are used
Banknotes£L1,000, £L5,000, £L10,000, £L20,000, £L50,000, £L100,000
Coins£L25, £L50, £L100, £L250, £L500
Demographics
User(s) Lebanon
Issuance
Central bankBanque du Liban
 Websitewww.bdl.gov.lb
Valuation
Inflation84.9%
 SourceThe Global Economy, 2020
Pegged withU.S. dollar
US$1 = £L1,507[1]
Black market exchange rate has diverged significantly; see article text

The pound or lira (Arabic: ليرة لبنانية līra Libnāniyya; French: livre libanaise; abbreviation: £L,[2] or LL[3] in Latin, ل.ل. in Arabic, ISO 4217: LBP) is the currency of Lebanon. It was formerly divided into 100 piastres (or qirsh in Arabic) but because of high inflation during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) the use of subunits was discontinued.

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 £L1,507.5 per USD.[4] 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.[5]

History[edit]

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 £S1 = 20 F. 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 sterling at a rate of £L8.83 = £1 stg.[6] A link to the French franc was restored after the war, but was abandoned in 1949.

Before the third phase of the Lebanese Civil War, US$1 was worth:

  • £L3.07 in 1965
  • £L3.26 in 1970
  • £L2.25 in 1975
  • about £L4 in 1981

In 1986 the pound began to fall against the dollar. On 13 June a dollar was worth £L36.50. two weeks later it was worth £L47.[7]

  • £L500 in 1987[8]
  • £L900 in December 1989[9]

During the Civil War, the value decreased rapidly until 1992, when one US dollar was worth over £L2,500. Subsequently the value increased again, and since December 1997 the official rate has been fixed at £L1,507.50 = US$1.[4]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

As of 3 March 2021, the black market rate in Beirut was £L10,000 = 1 U.S. dollar.[10] By July 2021, it was around £L24,000 to the dollar.[11] On 26 May 2022, the value of the Lebanese pound dropped in the black market to £L35,600 against the U.S. dollar, its lowest value ever, despite the recently held general elections.[12]

On 10 May, 2021 the Lebanese Central Bank (BDL) announced the launch of the “Sayrafa” platform, an electronic platform intended to record all Lebanese Pounds foreign exchange transactions and identify the exchange rates at any point in time.[13] The platform was launched in June 2021, and as of August 2022, the sayrafa exchange rate is around 20% less than the unofficial black market rate.[14] From 1st February 2022 the Sayrafa rate became the official US dollar to lira exchange rate for all credit card transactions.[15]

Coins[edit]

Lebanon's first coins were issued in 1924 in denominations of 2 and 5 piastres (p). Later issues did not include the word "syriennes" and were in denominations of 12p, 1p, 2p, 2+12p, 5p, 10p, 25p and 50p. During World War II, rather crudely made 12p, 1p and 2+12p coins were issued. Before the war all coins were minted in Paris.[16]

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 1p, 2+12p, 5p, 10p, 25p, 50p and £L1. No coins were issued between 1986 and 1994, when the current series of coins was introduced.

Coins in current use are:[17]

Coins of the Lebanese pound
Image Value Technical parameters Colour Date of
issue
Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Metal
Coins no longer in circulation[18]
Lebanon 5 Piastres 1924 obverse.jpg Lebanon 5 Piastres 1924 reverse.jpg 5p Aluminium-bronze 1924
Lebanon 5 Piastres 1925 obv.jpg Lebanon 5 Piastres 1925 rev.jpg 5p Aluminium-bronze 1925
1931
1933
1936
1940
50-Piastres-Back-Lebanon-1929.jpg 50-Piastres-Lebanon-1929.jpg 50p 10 g Silver 1929
1933
1938
Lebanon 5 Piastres obverse.jpg Lebanon 5 Piastres reverse.jpg 5p 18 mm 2.2 g Copper-nickel-aluminium Golden yellow 1968
1969
1972
1975
10-Piastres-Back-Lebanon-1969.jpg 10-Piastres-Lebanon-1969.jpg 10p 21 mm 3.2 g Copper-nickel-aluminium Golden yellow 1968
1969
1970
1972
1975
25-Piastres-Back-Lebanon-1968.jpg 25-Piastres-Lebanon-1968.jpg 25p 23.5 mm 4 g Nickel-brass Golden yellow 1968
1969
1970
1972
1975
1980
Lebanon 50 Piastres obv 1975.jpg Lebanon 50 Piastres rev 1975.jpg 50p 24 mm 6 g Nickel White nickel 1968
1969
1970
1971
1975
1978
1980
£L1 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[17]
£L25 20.5 mm 1.3 mm 2.8 g Nickel-plated steel White nickel 2002
Lebanon 50 Livres obverse 1996.jpg Lebanon 50 Livres reverse 1996.jpg £L50 19 mm 1.15 mm 2.25 g Stainless steel White nickel 1996
£L50 21.5 mm 1.67 mm 3g Nickel-plated steel 2006
Lebanon 100 livres 2000 obv.jpg Lebanon 100 livres 2000 rev.jpg £L100 22.5 mm 1.80 mm 4 g Zinc and copper Red copper 1995
1996
2000
100rectoSilver.png 100versoSilver.png £L100 22.5 mm 1.83 mm 4 g Steel and nickel White 2003
£L100 22.5 mm 1.80 mm
1.60 mm
4 g Steel and copper Red copper 2006
2009
250 Lebanese Pounds - Back.jpg 250 Lebanese Pounds - Front.jpg £L250 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 Lebanese Pounds - Minted 2009 - Backside.jpg 500 Lebanese Pounds.jpg £L500 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[edit]

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 piastres through to £L100. In 1939, the bank's name was changed to the Bank of Syria and Lebanon. The first £L250 notes appeared that year. Between 1942 and 1950, the government issued "small change" paper money in denominations of 5p, 10p, 25p and 50p. 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 £L1, £L5, £L10, £L25, £L50 and £L100 were issued.

The Banque du Liban (Bank of Lebanon) was established by the Code of Money and Credit on 1 April 1964.[19] 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 £L1, £L5, £L10, £L25, £L50, £L100, and £L250, expressed in Arabic on the front, and French 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[20]
Image Value Dimensions Main colour Date of issue
Obverse Reverse
Lebanon 1000 Lira obverse.jpg Lebanon 1000 Lira reverse.jpg £L1,000 156 × 67 mm Teal 1988
1990
1991
1992
Lebanon 1000 lira 2006 obverse.jpg Lebanon 1000 lira 2006 reverse.jpg 115 × 60 mm 2004
2008
Lebanon 1000 lira 2011 obverse.jpg Lebanon 1000 lira 2011 reverse.jpg 2011
2012
£L5,000 156 × 67 mm Pink 1994
1995
140 × 70 mm 1999
2001
120 × 62 mm 2004
2008
2012
£L10,000 145 × 73 mm Yellow 1998
127 × 66 mm 2004
2008
2012
£L20,000 150 × 80 mm Red 1994
1995
2001
130 × 72 mm 2004
2012
£L50,000 150 × 80 mm Blue 1994
1995
1999
2001
140 × 77 mm 2004
2011
2012
£L100,000 161 × 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[edit]

Hyperinflation in Lebanon

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

  • Official government rate = £L1,507.5
  • Official syndicate rate = £L3,850–£L3,900
  • "Lollar" (bank withdrawals of USD in LBP) = £L3,900
  • Parallel market rate = £L3,800
  • Black market rate = £L30,000 (by jan 2022) [21]

Lollar[edit]

A Lollar is a Lebanese dollar, or a US dollar which is stuck in the banking system, really just a computer entry with no corresponding currency.

Dan Azzi

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[22] 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.[23][24] The term was coined by Harvard University economic fellow Dan Azzi[25] 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[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Banque du Liban | History of Banque du Liban". www.bdl.gov.lb. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  2. ^ "CIA World Factbook 1990 - page 178". en.wikisource.org. 1 April 1990. Retrieved 2022-06-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "World Bank Editorial Style Guide 2020 - page 136" (PDF). openknowledge.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2022-08-01.
  4. ^ a b "Economic & Financial Data". Banque du Liban. Archived from the original on 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  5. ^ "Lebanese banks raise USD withdrawal rate to 3,850 pounds/dollar". Reuters. 29 June 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Middle East International No 277,278, 13,27 June 1986 Publishers Lord Mayhew, Dennis Walters MP; Jim Muir pp.4-6,7-8. Muir uses the words 'unthinkable' & 'incredible'.
  8. ^ Middle East International No 315, 19 December 1987; Jim Muir pp.6-7
  9. ^ Middle East International No 291, 9 January 1989; Jim Muir p.4
  10. ^ "Protesters shut down roads as Lebanon pound hits all-time low". France 24. 2021-03-03. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  11. ^ Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  12. ^ Kareem Chehayeb (26 May 2022). "Value of Lebanese pound drops to all-time low". Al Jazeera.
  13. ^ "BDL circular on the "Sayrafa" Platform".
  14. ^ "Value of Lebanese pound drops to all-time low". LBPRate.
  15. ^ "Sayrafa rate becomes standard transaction rate for international, fresh dollar cards used in Lebanon". L'Orient Today.
  16. ^ ‘’2008 Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000’’. ISBN 978-0-89689-3 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN. pp.1348-1349
  17. ^ a b "Coins in Circulation". Banque du Liban. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Coins Out of Circulation". Banque du Liban. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  19. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Lebanon". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: www.BanknoteNews.com.
  20. ^ "Banknotes in Circulation". www.bdl.gov.lb. Banque du Liban. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Freefalling Lebanese currency hits unprecedented new low". Al-Mayadeen. 14 December 2021. Retrieved 14 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Leyal Khalife (16 January 2020). "'LOLLAR' At Me: A term coined after the fall of the Lebanese banking system". Stepfeed. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  24. ^ Finance4Lebanon: The Lollar
  25. ^ Souad Lazkani (January 25, 2021). "Lebanese Filmmaker Says You Can Change 'Lollars' To Dollars By Investing In Movies". the961.com. Retrieved March 16, 2021.

External links[edit]