A Brief History of the Lebanese Pound

Until World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the country of Lebanon used the official Ottoman lira.  However, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the currency of that area went through many rapid changes.

The first change was the adoption of the Egyptian pound, in 1918.  All states given to the care of France and Britain used the Egyptian pound, which was issued through the private, British-controlled National Bank of Egypt.

The Egyptian pound remained only one year.  In 1919, when Lebanon came under French control, the French were concerned about the burden of Egyptian pound on their government.  However, they were equally concerned about switching Lebanon to the French Franc and potentially exhausting the French Treasury.  For this reason, the French changed the Lebanese currency to the Syrian pound, which was issued by The Banque de Syrie (The French affiliate of the Ottoman bank).

Lebanon started to issue its own notes and coins in 1924 when its political situation began to evolve and it created a constitution for the national government.  These notes were issued under the new bank, The Banque de Syrie et du Liban, and the agreements between France and Lebanon in regards to the bank helped strengthen the Lebanese economy. Lebanon officially separated from Syrian money in 1939, creating the Lebanese pound.

When the Lebanese pound was first officially created, it was issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 pound notes. In 1964, Lebanon created its own bank, The Banque du Liban, which took over sole issuance of the Lebanese pound.  These notes were in denominations of 1, 5. 10, 25, 50, 100, and 250 pounds.  In reference to its culture, the Lebanese pound is written in Arabic on the front and in French on the back.

In the 1980s and 90s, the Lebanese pound suffered from inflation, resulting in larger denominations being printed by The Banque du Liban.  Currently, the denominations in circulation are 1,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; 50,000 and 100,000 pounds.  It also has coins of 50, 100, 250, and 500 pounds.

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