The currency used in Egypt is known as the Egyptian pound. Egypt has created an efficient currency market that is reflected in the pound’s current rate. The currency has shown signs of strengthening following the country’s recovery from a period of civil war and unrest. Despite the inflation difficulties in the country, the Egyptian currency is considered the cheapest emerging market currency. The strings of sensitive economic and political reforms in the country have raised an appetite for the Egyptian pound leading to investor confidence in the country. The Egyptian pound appreciation comes as good news to the country as the population has been under pressure due to the increasing food prices caused by exchange rate moves and austerity measures.
The Egyptian Pound
The Egyptian pound is the officially recognized currency in Egypt. One pound is subdivided into 100 piastres or 1,000 millimes. The Egyptian pound is often abbreviated as LE (livre egyptienne) and was introduced in 1834 replacing the Egyptian piastres as the country’s currency. However, piastres continued to be circulated at one tenth of a pound. Egypt remained part of Starling Area until 1962 when Egypt switched to the US dollar at an exchange rate of one Egyptian pound for US$2.3. The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan also used the Egyptian pound as its official currency between 1899 and 1956. Different Egyptian pound values are referred to by their nicknames such as neckla for milliemes, reyal for 20 piastre coins, and sheleh for 5 piasters. However, piasters and milliemes are no longer accepted as legal tender in Egypt. Different values of the Egyptian pounds also have nicknames such as 1,000 is referred to as “pack” and one million as “rabbit.”
Silver, copper, and gold coins were in use between 1837 and 1900. The coins were mainly in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 20 piastre. One-pound coins were introduced in 1839. In 1885, bronze millieme coins were introduced with gold coins practically ceasing in the same year. Aluminum-bronze coins in the denomination of 1, 5, and 10 millieme were introduced between 1954 and 1956. The size of the silver coin was significantly reduced. The silver coins were abandoned in 1967 and cupro-nickel coins were introduced. The aluminum-bronze coins were replaced by aluminum coins in 1972 followed by brass in 1973.
The National Bank of Egypt introduced the first notes in 1899 in the denominations of 50 pilasters and 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 pounds. When the Central Bank of Egypt took over the National Bank of Egypt, it introduced notes in the denominations of 25 piasters and 20 and 200 pounds. The banknotes are all bilingual and characterized by Arabic texts and Arabic-Indic numerals on the observe side and English and Arabic numerals on the reverse. The observe side also features the Islamic buildings while the reverse features Ancient Egyptian motifs such as statues and inscriptions. In 2011, several banknotes including 25 and 50 piasters and 1 pound were phased out and replaced by the more intensive use of coins. However, the one pound note was reintroduced into circulation in 2016.