Albanian Lek

Name of currency: Albanian Lek

Country / countries used: Albania

Symbol: L

Brief history:

The lek is the official currency of Albania. One lek is equal to 100 qindarka, although qindarka is no longer issued.

In 1926, coins in denominations of 5 and 10 qindar leku and banknotes in 1, 5, 20 and 100 franka were introduced. In 1935, 1 and 2 qindar were issued, equal in value to the 5 and 10 qindar leku. This coin series depicted distinct neoclassical motifs. In 1939, notes were issued denominated as 5 and 20 franga. These were followed in 1944 with notes for 2, 5 and 10 lek and 100 franga.

After the Italian occupation, 0.20, 0.50, 1, 2, 5 and 10 lek were introduced. These coins were issued until 1941 and bear the portrait of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III on the obverse and the Italian eagle and fasces on the reverse. In 1945, the People’s Bank of Albania (Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar) issued overprints on National Bank notes for 10 lek, 20 and 100 franga. Regular notes were also issued in 1945 in denominations of 1, 5, 20, 100 and 500 franga. In 1947, the lek was adopted as the main denominations, with notes issued for 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lekë. In 1947, shortly after the communist party took power, older coins were withdrawn from circulation and new coinage was introduced. This coinage was again minted in 1957 and used until the currency reform of 1965.

In 1965, aluminium coins were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 qindar and 1 lek. All coins depicted the socialist state emblem. In 1965, notes (dated 1964) were introduced by the Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 lekë. A second series of notes was issued in 1976 when the country changed its name to the People’s Socialist Republic. In 1969, a second series of coins were released commemorating the 1944 liberation from fascism. In 1988, a third redesign were released. The 50 qindarka and 1 lek coins were problematically identical in size, weight and appearance so aluminium-bronze 1 lek coins with he inscription “Republica Polullore Socialiste Shqiperise” were released that year for better identification. In 1989, a cupro nickel 2 lek coin was introduced. All three of these coins remained in circulation during and shortly after the 1991 revolution.

In 1995 and 1996, a new coinage was introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lek, with 100 lek added in 2000. 500 lekë notes were introduced on 28th June 1991, followed by denominations of 200 and 1000 lekë on 1st October 1992. On July 11, 1997, a new series of banknotes dated 1996 was introduced.[1] On the last day of 2008 the 100 Bills were demonetized.