Georgian Lari

Georgian lari
Photo by: Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Claiming a wine to be the best in the world depends on personal preference. But when history becomes significant, the country of Georgia would be pioneer in wine making.

Located in Eurasia, where the European common grapevine grows, Georgia is the oldest wine producers. But compared to its aged wine, the country’s official currency, Georgian lari, is quite young.

Georgia has its own monarchy but due to wars of conquering nations, was forced to rely on Russian protection in the 18th century. They have become a democratic republic in 1918, but then were invaded by and had succumbed to the Soviet Union. The Russian ruble had been the dominating currency, but since 1993, the country’s Kupon lari replaced the ruble. With only banknotes on hand, they had suffered high inflation rates. It was then replaced in 1995 by lari, subdivided into 100 tetri, and issued in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 denominations. The adopted tetri was the monetary system that existed sometime in the 13th century. Coins were also issued in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tetri, as well as coins for 1 and 2 lari.

The Georgian lari is a closed currency, which can only be exchanged in particular offices within the boundaries of Georgia. It could not be exported nor imported. So when leaving the country, remaining lari should immediately be exchanged.
To make improvements to their reformed economy, a flat tax rate was imposed. The government redeemed control over its finances quickly. Agriculture and tourism had also been good sources of income. Currently, the exchange rate is around 1.75 GEL to 1 USD.

There are lots of exchange businesses that offer better exchange rates than the official exchange offices. A convenience when traveling to rural areas, where business preferred lower denominations.

When it comes to the banknote designs, most of the featured people on the lari bills were prominent historical people. Most of them were artists, academics, and musicians. There were also public figures and sovereigns who were important contributors to Georgia’s progress. Like wine, a currency will be better with age.

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