Egyptian Pound

The Egyptian pound is said to be the official currency of Egypt. It is also called Gineih and is divided into 100 Qirush or 1000 Milliemes. The ISO standard code of the Egyptian pound is EGP. For the local people, the abbreviation LE or L.E. is frequently used. Such local abbreviation is derived from the French name for Egyptian pound: livre égyptienne. On the other hand, its other name Gineih was derived from the Guinea coin which by the end of the 19th century holds the same value of 100 Qirush.

As the year 1834 came to be, a certain Royal Decree was introduced that required that the Egyptian currency should be made with a bimetallic base. Later, after replacing the Egyptian piaster, the Egyptian pound was named as Egypt’s official currency even though the Egyptian piaster continued to circulate with a 1/100 of a pound value and was further subdivided into 40 para. But by the year 1885, the para was no longer being issued and the piaster was then divided into tenths which eventually was called malleem (milliemes) in the year 1916.

The legal exchange rate for such currency was imposed by law and created the de facto gold standard. This gave rise to the exchange of 1 Egyptian pound is equivalent to 7.4375 grams of pure gold. As far as people in the economy noticed, gold bars are still being used as “money” in different internal transactions. In the year 1899, Egyptian banknotes were then introduced in Egypt.

The introduction of such a currency caused numerous coins to be circulated with the following denominations: 1, 5, 10 and 20 para, 1,2,10 and 20 piastre, and 1 pound. Such coins were made out of copper for the 1 and 5 para; silver for the 10, 20 para and 1, 5, 10 and 20 piaster; and gold for the 5, 10, and 20 piastre and 1 pound. The different materials did change from time to time starting with the coins’ material changed to metal. From there it has evolved to aluminum and from bronze to silver coinage which later was turned to cupronickel. The final stretch has seen usage of aluminum.

In the year 2006 new 50 piastre and 1 pound coins were introduced. These coins bore the faces of Tuntankhamun and Cleopatra for the 50 piastre and the 1 pound coin, and were said to be bimetallic in form. Now, coins are being used less frequently than banknotes but coins down to 5 piastres still remain to be legal currency in Egypt.

The famous banknotes introduced in 1899 used in Egypt up to now hold one unique feature compared with other countries’ currencies. The Egyptian banknotes come as a bilingual type of currency. The notes hold Arabic text and Eastern Arabic numerals on one side while the other side reveals the English and Hindu Arabic numerals. Such a feature is still seen up to this time. One US dollar is equivalent to 5.9 Egyptian pounds.

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