What is the Currency of Albania?
The official currency of Albania is the Albanian lek. The lek is subdivided into 100 qindarka, and its plural form is often written as "lekë." Albania has one of the most successful capitalist mixed economies in the world, and is one of the rapidly growing economies among the Balkan countries. Although agriculture is the main economic sector in Albania, its banking sector remains the most developed service sector in the country. Banks are the main channels for the transfer of funds from lenders to borrowers. Although there is considerable circulation of the euro in Albania, the Albanian lek still dominates the country's financial sector, and is widely accepted in the country for most payments and other forms of transactions.
History of the Albanian Lek
The lek has been in circulation in Albania since February 1926. Prior to the lek, Albania had no currency and adhered to the gold standard as a means of exchange. Before World War I, the Ottoman Turkish piastre was used as a currency. However, the conquest of the country by the military of some of the continental powers led to the adoption of gold franc as currency. Since its introduction in 1926, the Albanian lek has served as the country’s official currency. Between 1946 and 1965, the lek's value was pegged to the Soviet ruble at an exchange rate of 12.5 lekë to 1 ruble. After 1965, an inequality was created by the revaluation of the ruble, leading to the issuance of a second lek that was equal to 10 old leke. In 1992, lek valuta, which was equal to 50 lekë, was introduced. Between 1926 and 1939, the Albanian gold currency was referred to as franga. The franga was worth 5 Albanian leke.
What Does "lekë" mean?
The Albanian lek was named in honor of Alexander the Great. In Albania, the name Alexander is often shortened as "Leka." The observe side of the 1 lek coin has a portrait of Alexander, while the reverse side depicts him on a horse.
When the Albanian lek was introduced, the first coins were made of bronze in denominations of 5 and 10 qindar, whereas nickel was used for 25 and 50 qindar, as well as 1 lek, and silver denominations were used for 1, 2, and 5 franga ar. In 1935, bronze was used in the denominations of 1 and 2 franga ar. The coins depicted distinct neoclassical motifs influenced by Victor Emmanuel III, an Italian king who was also a coin collector. Aluminum coins in the denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 qindar all depicting socialist state emblems were introduced in 1965. In 1969, a similar series of aluminum coins was released in commemoration of the 1944 liberation from fascism. A third set of coins was introduced in 1995 and 1996 in the denomination of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 lek.
Banknotes in 1, 5, 20, and 100 franka ari denominations were introduced by the National Bank of Albania in 1926. In 1945, regular notes were circulated in the denominations of 1, 5, 20, 50, 100, and 500 franga. The lek was established as the major denomination in 1947, with banknotes in the denominations of 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 leke. In 1997, new series of banknotes were introduced in the denominations of 100, 200, 500, 100, 200, and 500 leke.