A Brief History of the Syrian Pound

The Syrian pound is a relatively new currency in the foreign market.  As the country of Syria was ruled by other countries for much of its history, its currency has reflected its rulers.  During the time of the Ottoman Empire, Syria used the Ottoman lira. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rule of the French, Syria, like its French-ruled neighbors of Lebanon, Palestine, and Transjordan, adopted the Egyptian pound in 1918.  However, this French change was only the beginning of the Syrian currencies evolution.

As we talked about in an earlier article, the Syrian pound evolved in tandem with the Lebanese pound.  After the French took over that region of the country, they were concerned about the burden that the Egyptian pound was putting on their government.  To help ease the burden, the French joined Syria and Lebanon together under a new currency in 1919.  The Syrian pound (or livre, as it was then called) was born, issued by the The Banque de Syrie (The French affiliate of the Ottoman bank).

While Lebanon would eventually go on to print its own currency in 1924, the Syrian and Lebanese currencies remained connected until 1948.  At the time of the official split, the Syrian pound and the Lebanese pound started their own, independent courses in the foreign exchange market.  The pound would continue as the official currency of Syria.

Traditionally the coins and banknotes were issued in Arabic and French.  After Syria’s independence from France, the banknotes switched to Arabic and English while the coins switched to only Arabic.

The Syrian pound has, traditionally, remained relatively stable.  While larger denominations of the currency have been gradually introduced over the years, it has not suffered from rampant inflation.  Currently the Syrian pound is issued in both banknotes and coins.  The banknotes come in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pounds.  Coins comes in 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 pounds.  While the Syrian pound is technically subdivided into the smaller qirsh (100 qirsh = 1 pound), the qirsh coin is no longer issued.  The relative stability of the Syrian pound has, however, been greatly influenced by the Syrian civil war, which caused a quick deterioration of its value.

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