What Is the Currency of Syria?

By Sharon Omondi on October 21 2017 in Economics

Various Syrian pound coins and banknotes.

Syria is a nation located in Western Asia. The country uses the Syrian pound as its official currency, which uses the sign SYP, and the codes LS and £S. One Syrian pound is subdivided into 100 qirsh. The currency is issued by the Central Bank of Syria. Given the influence of Arabic, French and English languages in Syria's history, the currency has multiple names. When Syria gained its independence, it was the only country whose coins were written in Arabic.

During the early 2000s, the exchange rate of the SYP was approximately 50 SYP to 1 US dollar. In 2005, for instance, 1 USD was equal to 48.4 SYP. The exchange rate has deteriorated since the beginning of Syria's civil war in 2011, which is directed against president Bashar al-Assad. Currently, 1 USD to equal to 515 SYP.

History of Currency in Syria

Syria was a part of the Ottoman Empire for a period of approximately 400 years. During this time, the Ottoman lira was used as currency. When the empire fell, Syria came under French rule, and therefore introduced the Egyptian pound, which was used as currency in other French territories including Transjordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. In 1919, the French introduced the pound as a new currency. The currency was used by both Lebanon and Syria until 1924, when Lebanon and Syria began to use the Lebanese-Syrian currency. After a period of 15 years, the joint currency was split into two separate currencies, which resulted in the Syrian pound.


The first coin were introduced in 1921 was the ½ qirsh denomination. These early coins were struck using cupro-nickel, but aluminum bronze 2 and 5 qirsh coins were introduced in 1926. Coins made of nickel brass and aluminium bronze were also introduced in 1935 and 1960, respectively. Nickel replaced silver in 1968. As a result of high inflation, new 1, 2, 5, and 10 pound coins were later added. In 2003, 5, 10, and 25 pound coins were issued with latent images on them. Coins currently circulating in Syria exist in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 pounds.


The Central Bank of Syria issued the first banknotes in 1919 in denominations of 5, 25, and 50 qirsha and 1 and 5 livres. The notes were written in French until 1958, after which the language was changed to English. The new notes were printed in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 pound denominations. The banknote designs were changed in 1976 and 1977, except for the 500 pound note. Furthermore, a new series was introduced in 1997 and 1998. Lower denominations were replaced by coins, whereas higher denomination notes were redesigned. In 2009, the design was changed once more, and modifications to the 500 pound note were made five years later. A new 1000 pound note was introduced in 2015, and a 2000 pound note began to circulate in July 2017. Today, the banknotes circulating in the Syrian economy include the 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2000 pound denominations. The Syrian pound is weak compared to the United States dollar due to political instability.

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