What Is the Currency of Turkey?

By John Misachi on August 2 2017 in Economics

Turkish lira coins and banknotes.

What Is the Currency of Turkey?

Turkey is a transcontinental country in Eurasia endowed with rich and diverse cultures. It is the third largest country in the world in terms of purchasing power parity and the 18th largest in nominal GDP. Turkey is one of the founding members of Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), aimed at improving the economic and social conditions of people around the world. The economy is supported by the automotive and electronic industries. The official currency in Turkey is the Turkish lira, which is symbolized by ₺, uses the code TRY or TL, and is subdivided into 100 kurus. The rate of inflation in Turkey is high compared to other developed countries, hence the fluctuating exchange rate of the lira.

History of the Turkish Currency

The first version of the lira, known as the Ottoman lira, along with related currencies in the Middle East and Europe, has its roots in the ancient Roman weight unit known as the libra, which referred to the Troy pound of silver. During medieval times, the use of libra spread out through the Republic of Turkey. The Ottoman lira became the official currency in 1844, replacing the kurus that was in circulation.

The Turkish Lira

There have been two versions of the Turkish lira. The first Turkish lira was introduced in 1923 through an official gazette that was later canceled by the Democratic Party after World War II. The change was implemented through a second, third, and fourth issue, having portraits of İsmet İnönü. The Turkish lira has been listed twice in the Guinness Book of Records (1995-1996 and 1999-2004) as the world’s most devalued currency. The currency had lost its value to the extent that one gold lira coin could be sold for 154,400,000 TL before the 2005 reevaluation.

The second Turkish lira was introduced in 2005 when the Grand National Assembly of Turkey approved a law that required the exclusion of the six zeros from the Turkish lira. The government introduced banknotes and coins bearing the portraits of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, on the obverse of banknotes and the reverse side of coins.


Current Turkish lira banknotes are referred to as the E-9 Emission Group, and were introduced in January 2009 by the Central Bank, which mints and distributes the currency. The notes are minted and distributed in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira. Banknotes are made in different sizes and colors in order to reduce forgery incidents. The major specificity of the new banknotes is that each denomination represents a celebrated Turkish personality, rather than geographical sites and architectural features of Turkey.


The first Turkish lira coins were introduced in 1923, which included Arabic inscriptions and were made primarily of aluminum–bronze. The second Turkish lira coins were issued during the 2005 transition, with coins bearing the portrait of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Denominations of the 50 new kuru and the 1 new lira minted in 2005 were somehow similar to the Eurozone’s €1 and €2, which resulted in the reversing of the rings in the subsequent 2009 issue. The current Turkish lira coins in circulation were minted and issued in 2009 in denominations of 1 lira and 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kuruş.

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