Syrian pound

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Syrian pound
Arabic: الليرة السورية
£S 50 banknote
ISO 4217
Symbol£S, LS or SP
Banknotes£S 50, £S 100, £S 200, £S 500, £S 1,000, £S 2,000, £S 5,000
Coins£S 5, £S 10, £S 25, £S 50
User(s)Syria Syria
Central bankCentral Bank of Syria
 SourceThe World Factbook, 2017 est.
Value£S2,814 = US$1 (official)
£S 3,575= US$1 (free market range)
As of 22 December 2021[1]

The Syrian pound or Syrian lira (Arabic: الليرة السورية, romanizedal-līra as-sūriyya; sign: £S, LS or SP; code: SYP) is the national currency of Syria and is issued by the Central Bank of Syria. The pound is subdivided into 100 piastres (قرش qirsh, plural قروش qurūsh in Arabic), although piastre coins are no longer issued. The ISO code for the Syrian pound is SYP.

Before 1947, the Arabic inscription of the word "qirsh" was spelled with the initial Arabic letter غ, after which the word began with ق. Until 1958, banknotes were issued with Arabic on the obverse and French on the reverse. Since 1958, English has been used on the reverses, hence the three different names for this currency. Coins used both Arabic and French until independence, then only Arabic.


During the period when Syria was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which lasted about 400 years, the Ottoman lira was its main currency. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the placing of Syria under a mandate (French occupation), the Egyptian pound was used in the territories under French and British mandates, including Lebanon, Transjordan and Palestine. Upon taking Lebanon and Syria under its separate mandate, the French government sought to replace the Egyptian currency and granted a commercial bank, the Banque de Syrie (a French affiliate of the Ottoman Bank), the authority to issue a currency for territories under its new mandate.

The pound (or livre as it was then known) was introduced in 1919 and was pegged at a value of 20 F.[2] As the political status of Lebanon evolved, the Banque de Syrie, which was to act as the official bank for Lebanon and Syria, was renamed the Banque de Syrie et du Grand-Liban (BSL). BSL issued the Syro-Lebanese pound for 15 years, starting in 1924. Two years before the expiration of the 15-year period, BSL split the Lebanese-Syrian currency into two separate currencies that could still be used interchangeably in either state. In 1939, the bank was renamed the Banque de Syrie et du Liban.

In 1941, the peg to the French franc was replaced by a peg to Sterling of £S 8.83125 = £1 STG, as a consequence of the occupation of Syria by British and Free French forces. This rate was based on the pre-war conversion rate between the franc and Sterling. In 1946, following devaluation of the franc, the pound was pegged once again to the franc at a rate of £S 1 = 54.35 F. In 1947, Syria joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and pegged its currency to the U.S. dollar at £S 2.19148 = US$1, a rate which was maintained until 1961. The Lebanese and Syrian currencies split in 1948. From 1961, a series of official exchange rates were in operation, alongside a parallel, black market rate which reflected the true market rate for Syrian pounds in Jordan and Lebanon where there was a healthy trade in the Syrian currency. The market was allowed to flourish because everybody, including government and public sector companies, needed it. The black market rate diverged dramatically from the official rate in the 1980s.[3] In July 2007, the currency was pegged to the IMF SDR (Special Drawing Rights).[4]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

Monthly averages of Official USD/SYP Exchange rate from January 2011 to July 2016

There was a capital flight to nearby countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, as a result of the Syrian Civil War that started in 2011. In addition, Syria has been subject to sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other countries, which shut Syria out of the global financial system. To circumvent the sanctions, Syrians effected foreign transactions through banks in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon.[5] As a result, the official exchange rate has deteriorated significantly, falling from £S 4 = US$1 in March 2011[6] to £S 515 = US$1 in July 2017.

On 31 October 2019, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad mentioned in an interview that:

One factor which people are not aware of, is that the liberation of an area does not necessarily serve the Syrian Pound, because by liberating an area, we are removing its access to dollars which were paid to the terrorists to cover their needs and expenses. This is one of the tools we benefited from. I mean that things are not absolute, and we cannot say that terrorists were serving us in this regard. Not every positive step has a positive impact. That is why I am saying that the issue is complicated.

— [7]

Exchange rate[edit]

On 5 December 2005, the selling rate quoted by the Commercial Bank of Syria was £S 48.4 = US$1. A rate of about £S 50 to US$1 was usual in the early 2000s, but the rate is subject to fluctuations. Since the start of the civil war in 2011, the pound's unofficial exchange rate has deteriorated significantly. It was £S 47 = US$1 in March 2011 and £S515 in July 2017. Since July 2007, the Syrian pound has been pegged to the IMF SDR (Special Drawing Rights).[8]

On 29 November 2019, following the Lebanese protests, the black market rate was £S 765 = US$1, a decrease of 30% since the turmoil started in Lebanon a month earlier, as the protests led Lebanese banks to impose tight controls on hard currency withdrawals and transfers abroad, making it hard for Syrians to access funds held by them in those banks.[2][5]

The black-market rate fell to £S 950 on 2 December 2019, another 25% decrease,[9] while the official rate set by the central bank was £S 434 = US$1.

On 13 January 2020, the currency deteriorated further, as more than £S 1,000 was traded for US$1 in the black market, despite being valued at £S 434 = US$1 by the Syrian Central Bank.[10] During the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria, the Syrian pound continued to fall against the U.S. dollar in the black market, where US$1 equaled more than £S 1,600 in May 2020.[11] A month later, the Syrian pound passed £S 2,000 against the dollar,[12][13] and a few days later, it passed £S 3,000 against the dollar.[14]

Upon the implementation of the U.S. sanctions related to the Caesar Act, anti-government local authorities in Idlib Governorate adopted the Turkish lira in place of the plummeting Syrian pound.[15] Turkish lira has also replaced Syrian pound in other Turkish occupied areas of northern Syria, such as Afrin and Jarablus.[16]

On 3 March 2021, the Syrian pound hit a new record low on the black market, where US$1 bought £S 4,000, affected by a new low of Lebanese pound which hit £L10,000 to the dollar.[17] By June 2021, the Syrian pound was around £S 3,150 to the dollar.[18]


In 1921, cupro-nickel 12 piastre coins were introduced, followed in 1926 by aluminium bronze 2pt and 5pt. In 1929, holed, nickel-brass 1pt and silver 10pt, 25pt and 50pt were introduced. Nickel-brass 12pt coins were introduced 1935, followed by zinc 1pt and aluminium-bronze 2½pt in 1940. During the Second World War, brass 1pt and aluminium 2+12pt emergency coins were issued. These pieces were crudely produced and undated.

A new coinage was introduced between 1947 and 1948 in denominations of 2+12pt, 5pt, 10pt, 25pt, 50pt and £S1, with the 2+12, 5pt and 10pt struck in cupro-nickel and the others in silver. Aluminium-bronze replaced cupro-nickel in 1960, with nickel replacing silver in 1968. In 1996, following high inflation, new coins were introduced in denominations of £S 1, £S 2, £S 5, £S 10 and £S 25, with the £S 25 being bimetallic. In 2003, £S 5, £S 10, and £S 25 coins were issued, with latent images. On December 26, 2018, the Central Bank of Syria introduced a £S 50 coin for general circulation to replace the banknote of that denomination.[19]


1pt. note issued in 1920

In 1919, the Banque de Syrie introduced notes for 5pt, 25pt and 50pt, £S 1 and £S 5. These were followed, in 1920, by notes for £S 1, £S 10, £S 25, £S 50 and £S 100. In 1925, the Banque de Syrie et du Grand-Liban began issuing notes and production of denominations below 25pt ceased. Notes below £S 1 were not issued from 1930. In 1939, the issuing body again changed its name, to the Banque de Syrie et du Liban.

£S 1 note issued in 1957

Between 1942 and 1944, the government introduced notes for 5pt, 10pt, 25pt and 50pt. In the early 1950s, undated notes were issued by the Institut d'Emission de Syrie in denominations of £S 1, £S 5, £S 10, £S 25, £S 50 and £S 100, followed by notes dated 1955 for £S 10 and £S 25. The Banque Centrale de Syrie took over paper money issuance in 1957, issuing the same denominations as the Institut d'Emission.

In 1958, the French language was removed from banknotes and replaced by English. Notes were issued for £S 1, £S 5, £S 10, £S25, £S 50, £S 100 and £S 500. In 1966, the design of the £S 25, £S 50, and £S 100 notes were changed. In 1976 and 1977, the designs changed for all the denominations except the £S 500 note. In 1997 and 1998, a new series of notes was introduced in denominations of £S 50, £S 100, £S 200, £S 500 and £S 1,000, with the lower denominations replaced by coins. In 2009, the £S 50, £S 100, and £S 200 pound notes were changed with an entirely new design.[20] On 2 July 2014, a new £S 500 note was introduced, followed by a £S 1,000 note on 30 July 2015, a £S 2,000 note on 2 July 2017, and a £S 5,000 note on 24 January 2021.[21]

2010 series[edit]

On 27 July 2010, the Central Bank of Syria issued a new series of banknotes dated 2009 in denominations of £S 50, £S 100, and £S 200. The notes were designed by Austrian banknote designer Robert Kalina.[22] The Central Bank of Syria issued new £S 500 and £S 1,000 notes in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The reverse of the new £S 1,000 note features an image of a Roman mosaic painting discovered in Deir al-Adas.[23] President Bashar al-Assad was added to the £S 2,000 note in 2017. A £S 5,000 note was released in January 2021.

£S 50
50-Syrian-Pounds(2009-2020).jpg50 Syrian Pounds 2009 2.png
Arabic obverse: A rectangular Ugarit tablet of first Abjad, and a circular Ebla tablet. English reverse: Al-Assad National Library and a statue of Hafez Al-Assad.
£S 100
100 Syrian Pound.jpgBlank.png
Arabic obverse: Archway of main gate and Roman Theatre at Bosra. English reverse: The dome of the Treasury from the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Central Bank of Syria headquarters building, ancient coin of Philip.
£S 200
Arabic obverse: Norias of Hama. English reverse: Ceiling of Temple of Bel in Palmyra.
£S 500
Arabic obverse: Damascus Opera House. English reverse: "Mosaic of the Musicians" from a Byzantine villa in Maryamin.[24] The clay tablet depicts the Hurrian songs, the oldest surviving substantially complete work of notated music, found in Ugarit.
£S 1,000
Arabic obverse: Roman Theatre at Palmyra. English reverse: Roman mosaic of a grape harvest in Deir al-Adas.
£S 2,000
Arabic obverse: President Bashar al-Assad and the Umayyad Mosque. English reverse: Interior of the People's Council of Syria.
£S 5,000
Arabic obverse: Syrian soldier saluting next to the Flag of Syria. English reverse: Fresco from the Temple of Baalshamin in the ancient city of Palmyra.

See also[edit]

Current SYP exchange rates

from Lira news: USD TRY


  1. ^ "US Dollar Exchange Rates history | Syrian Pound Today".
  2. ^ a b "Syria (barely) survived a civil war. Can it weather the latest financial crisis?". Los Angeles Times. 29 November 2019.
  3. ^ Syria: The businessman can't play his hand Euromoney May 1986.
  4. ^ "Syria ends pound's peg to U.S. dollar". The Globe and Mail. 5 June 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Lebanon crisis wreaks havoc on Syria's war-torn economy". Reuters. 29 November 2019.
  6. ^ أرشيف أسعار العملات الأجنبية عام 2011 (XLS) (in Arabic). Central Bank of Syria. 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  7. ^ "President al-Assad's interview given to al-Sourya and al-Ikhbarya TVs". Syrian Arab News Agency. 31 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Syria ends pound's peg to U.S. dollar". The Globe and Mail. 5 June 2007.
  9. ^ "Syrian pound hits record low in panic selling, dealers say". Reuters. 2 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Syrian Pound Hits Record Low of 1,000 against the Dollar". Asharq Al-Awsat. 13 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Syrian pound continues to devaluate against USD". Xinhuanet. 17 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Syrian pound passes 2000 against dollar as new policies fail to stop freefall". Syria direct. 3 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Syrian pound hits record low against dollar in panic trading, dealers say". Reuters. 4 June 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Syrian pound hits record low ahead of new U.S. sanctions: dealers". Reuters. 9 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Syria's Idlib adopts Turkish lira in place of plummeting pound". France 24. 15 June 2020.
  16. ^ Ashawi, Khalil (2018-08-28). "Falling lira hits Syrian enclave backed by Turkey". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-08-19.
  17. ^ "Syrian pound hits new low in contagion from neighboring Lebanon's currency crisis". Reuters. 3 March 2021.
  18. ^ Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  19. ^ due to fast depreciation, £S 5, and £S 10 coins are practically worthless as of December 2021.50 Liras l([1]). Retrieved on 2020-05-20.
  20. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2013). "Syria". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA:
  21. ^ "Syria floats new bank note amid soaring inflation". The Age. 25 January 2021.
  22. ^ Syria new 50-, 100-, and 200-pound notes confirmed July 27, 2010. Retrieved on 2013-02-19.
  23. ^ "Updated-CBS puts into circulation new SYP 1,000 banknotes to replace worn-out currency". June 30, 2015.
  24. ^ Ring, Trudy (1994), International Dictionary of Historic Places: Middle East and Africa, vol. 4, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 1884964036


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