Albanian lek

The lek (plural lekë) is the currency of Albania (ISO 4217 currency code: ALL). It is subdivided into 100 qindarka (singular qindarkë), although qindarka are no longer issued.


Lek is named after the 15th century Albanian Feudal Lord Lekë Dukagjini. The name qindarkë comes from the Albanian qind, meaning one hundred. Qindarkë thus carries the same meaning as centime, cent, centesimo, stotinka, eurocent, etc.


Before the lek

Until 1912, Albania used the Turkish lira, the Ottoman currency. Following independence, a period of political chaos delayed the introduction of a national currency until 1926. During this period, various foreign currencies circulated, in particular those of the Latin Monetary Union. Some crude paper money was issued during this period Notes were issued for Berat, Gjirokastër, Korçë, Shkodër and Vlorë. Denominations included para and grosh (equal to the subunits of the Turkish lira), Italian lira, franga argjent ("silver francs"), francs, qint, qindtar and skender. See Korçë frange, Korçë skender and Vlorë frank for more information.

First lek

The lek was introduced in 1926. At first, there were four denominations in circulation. The lek was worth 100 qindar leku whilst the frang ar (also frank ar) was worth 100 qindar ar or five lekë. The lek was equivalent to the Italian lira.

When Italy occupied Albania in 1938, the lek was reduced in value to 0.8 Italian lira. Coins were issued denominated solely in lek during the occupation. After the Second World War, only the lek and qindarkë (equal to the qindar leku) were issued. Between 1946 and 1948, the lek was tied at par to the Yugoslav dinar. Following this, the lek was tied to the Soviet ruble at a rate of 12.5 lek = 1 ruble.

Second lek

As a consequence of the revaluation of the Soviet ruble in 1961, the lek revalued in 1965, with 10 old lek = 1 new lek, in order to restore the exchange rate of 12.5 lek = 1 ruble. This lek can continued to circulate to the present day, although it suffered from considerable inflation after the end of the communist regime.

Lek valuta

In 1992, a new "lek valuta" was introduced at a value of 50 lek. Two denominations of banknotes were issued, 10 and 50 lek valuta (1 lek valuta notes were printed but not issued). However, the lek valuta did not replace the lek and no further issues were made in lek valuta.


First lek

In 1926, bronze coins were introduced in denominations of 5 and 10 qindar leku, together with nickel ¼, ½ and 1 lek, and silver 1, 2 and 5 franga ar. In 1935, bronze 1 and 2 qindar ar were issued, equal in value to the 5 and 10 qindar leku.

After the Italian occupation, stainless-steel 0.20, 0.50, 1 and 2 lek and silver 5 and 10 lek were introduced, with the silver coins only issued that year but aluminium-bronze 0.05 and 0.10 lek introduced in 1940. These coins were issued until 1941.

In 1947, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of zinc ½, 1, 2 and 5 lekë. This coinage was issued until 1957.

Second lek

In 1965, aluminium coins (dated 1964) were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 qindar and 1 lek. In 1995 and 1996, a new coinage was introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lekë, with a bimetallic 100 lekë added in 2000.

The obverses have various designs with the inscription "Republika e Shqipërisë" (Republic of Albania) and the year of production. All have the value with branches on the reverse.


First lek

In 1926, the National Bank of Albania (Banka Kombëtare e Shqipnis) introduced notes in denominations of 1, 5, 20 and 100 franka ari. 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.

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.

1947 series
Value Colour Obverse Reverse
10 lekë Peach Partisan Geometric designs
50 lekë Dark green Partisan Geometric designs
100 lekë Dark blue Partisan Geometric designs
500 lekë Brown Partisan Geometric designs
1,000 lekë Dark blue/multicoloured Partisan Geometric designs
1949 and 1957 series
Value Colour Obverse Reverse
10 lekë Red Coat of arms Coat of arms
50 lekë Dark blue Skanderbeg Partisan
100 lekë Green Partisan Geometric designs
500 lekë Orange/blue Wheat harvesting, Skanderbeg Peasant woman with wheat
1,000 lekë Purple Skanderbeg, oil wells A miner

Second lek

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.

1964 and 1976 series
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
1 lek Green Peasant couple with wheat Castle of Shkodër
3 lekë Brown Woman carrying basket of fruit Sea/lakeside town (?)
5 lekë Dark blue Steam train and truck Ship
10 lekë Green Woman working in a textile mill Bureaucrats and peasants socializing outside the Palace of Culture, Naim Frashëri
25 lekë Dark blue Woman with wheat, combine harvesting Mechanized ploughing
50 lekë Red Army on parade, Skanderbeg Rifle, pickaxe, apartment block under construction
100 lekë Scarlet Man showing his son a new hydroelectric dam Steelworker with oil worker, gesturing grandly, steelworks and oil wells in background
Undated issue
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
100 lekë Blue Steelworker pouring an ingot, steelworks in background Mountains and oil wells

In 1991, 500 lekë were introduced, followed by denominations of 200 and 1000 lekë in 1992, and 5000 lekë in 1996.

1991 series
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
100 lekë Purple Oil refinery Oil wells, steelworkers, steelworks
500 lekë Blue Girl with sunflowers Mountains
1992-1996 series
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
100 lekë Purple Luftetari Kombetar Eagle and mountains
200 lekë Brown Ismail Qemali Albanian independence
500 lekë Light blue Naim Frashëri Poetry, mountains
1,000 lekë Green Skanderbeg Kruja castle
1996 series
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
100 lekë Purple Theofan Stilian Noli First parliament
200 lekë Brown Naim Frashëri Birthplace of Frashëri
500 lekë Blue Ismail Qemali Vlorë independence building
1,000 lekë Green Pjetër Bogdani Church of Vau
5,000 lekë Gold Skanderbeg Kruja castle

See also


External links

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