BANKNOTES OF SYRIA
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The Syrian Pound
The Syrian pound (Arabic الليرة السورية al-līra as-sūriyya) is the currency of Syria and is issued by the Bank of Syria (in arabic مصرف سورية المركزي). The pound is subdivided into 100 qirush (singular qirsh, piastres in English or French), although coins in qirsh are no longer issued.
Before World War I, Syria was part of the Ottoman empire and the Turkish lira was the legal tender. Following the fall of the Ottoman empire and the placing of Syria under a mandate, the Egyptian pound was used in the states under French and British mandates, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Upon taking Lebanon and Syria under its separate mandate, the French government sought to replace the Egyptian currency and granted a commercial bank, the Banque de Syrie (a French affiliate of the Ottoman Bank), the authority to issue a currency for states under its new mandate.
The pound (or livre as it was then known) was introduced in 1919 and was initially worth 20 French francs.
As the political status of Lebanon evolved, the Banque de Syrie, which was to act as the official bank for Lebanon and Syria, was renamed the Banque de Syrie et du Liban (BSL). The BSL issued the French franc based Lebanese-Syrian currency for 15 years starting in 1924. Two years before the expiration of the 15 year period, the BSL split the Lebanese-Syrian currency into two separate currencies that could still be used interchangeably in either state. In modern times, however, the currencies are separate, as evidenced by the fact that the Lebanese pound is 30 times weaker than the Syrian pound.
Until 1958, banknotes were issued with Arabic on the obverse and French on the reverse. After 1958, English has been used on the reverses, hence the three different names for this currency. Coins used both Arabic and French until Syrian independence, then only Arabic. A new series of banknotes was printed in 1998. Many of the old bills were redesigned and a new 1000 pound note was also added.
The ISO 4217 code for the Syrian pound is SYP, Prices are commonly written using Sú before the amount. i.e. Sú100.00.
Current coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 pounds and banknotes are issued in 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pounds. Older banknotes remain valid. The pound is not a hard currency, and there are restrictions on its export.
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Page created: 9 December 2006
Last Update: 9 December 2006
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