Albanian lek
Leku Shqiptar (Albanian)
1000 Lekë banknoteLekë coins
ISO 4217
CodeALL (numeric: 008)
before 1990: ALK
 Freq. used200  Lekë, 500  Lekë, 1,000  Lekë, 2,000  Lekë, 5,000  Lekë
 Rarely used10,000  Lekë
 Freq. used5  Lekë, 10  Lekë, 20  Lekë, 50  Lekë, 100  Lekë
 Rarely used1 Lek, 50  Lekë (2003 series)
Date of introduction16 February 1926
User(s) Albania
Central bankBank of Albania
 Source[1] 2024

The lek (Albanian: leku shqiptar; indefinite singular lek, definite plural lekët, indefinite plural lekë; sign: L;[1] code: ALL) is the currency of Albania. Historically, it was subdivided into 100 qintars (Albanian: qindarka; singular qindarkë).


Alexander the Great on the first Albanian 1 Lek coin.

The lek was introduced as the first Albanian currency in February 1926.[2]

Before then, Albania was a country without a currency, adhering to a gold standard for the fixation of commercial values. Before the First World War, the Ottoman Turkish piastre was in full circulation. During the occupation of Albania by Austria-Hungary, paper notes of the Austro-Hungarian krone were imposed on the population. Although transactions using krone notes were limited to exchanges between Albanians and the occupiers, the majority of the population used gold and silver piastre or, gave up on money altogether and bartered instead.[3] In 1923 Italian paper circulated at Shkodër, Durrës, Vlorë, and Gjirokastër, and the Greek drachma at Korçë, the values of which varied according to locality and the prevailing rates of exchange as compared with gold.[4]

Gold standard

From 1926–1939, the Albanian lek adhered to the gold standard de jure with lek banknotes being convertible to gold. The lek's conversion to gold was guaranteed and the issue of gold francs was limited to three million units.[5] Due to the gold standard, up until 1939, the lek did not experience significant inflation and the currency in circulation remained relatively constant.[6] Following the Italian invasion of Albania, the entire gold reserves of Albania, totaling 300,000 gold francs, were confiscated and sent to the Reichsbank in Berlin. This action, coupled with the introduction of the Italian lira in Albania, led to significant inflation and the devaluation of the lek.[7]


The lek was named after Alexander the Great,[8] whose name is often shortened to Leka in Albanian.[9] Alexander's portrait appeared on the obverse of the 1 lek coin, while the reverse showed him on his horse.

The word qindarkë comes from the Albanian qind, meaning one hundred, or from Arabic qintār ("hundredweight"). The word is thus comparable to centime, cent, Latin centenarius, etc.


Between 1926 and 1939, the main unit of Albanian currency was the franga ari (English: gold franc) (Fr.A.), worth 5 Lek and divided into 100 qindar ar (gold cent),[10] used in international transactions.[11] This unit was similar in concept to the Belga, a unit worth five Belgian francs.


First lek

In 1926, bronze coins were introduced in denominations of 5 and 10 qintars, together with nickel 14 Lek, 12 Lek and 1 Lek, and silver Fr.A. 1, Fr.A. 2 and Fr.A. 5 . The obverse of the franc coins depicts King Zog. In 1935, bronze 1 and 2 gold cents were issued, equal in value to the 5 and 10 qintars respectively. This coin series depicted distinct neoclassical motifs, said to have been influenced by the Italian king Victor Emmanuel III who was known to have been a coin collector. These coins depict the mint marks "R", "V" or "L", indicating Rome, Vienna or London.

Under the direction of Benito Mussolini, Italy invaded and occupied Albania and issued a new series of coins in 1939 in denominations of Lek 0.20, Lek 0.50, 1 Lek and 2  Lek in stainless steel, and silver 5 Lek, and 10 Lek. Aluminium-bronze Lek 0.05 and Lek 0.10 were introduced in 1940. A fixed exchange with the Italian lira was established at 5:6.25 (1 Lek = Lit.1.25, or Fr.A.1 = Lit.6.25). These coins were issued until 1941 and bear the portrait of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III on the obverse and the Albanian eagle with fasces on the reverse.

In 1947, shortly after the Communist Party took power, older coins were withdrawn from circulation and a new coinage was introduced, consisting of zinc 12 Lek, 1 Lek, 2 Lek and 5 Lek. These all depicted the socialist national crest. This coinage was again minted in 1957 and used until the currency reform of 1965.

Second lek

In 1965, a confiscatory monetary form was carried out at a rate of 10:1.

Aluminium coins (dated 1964) were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 qintars and 1 Lek. All coins show the socialist state emblem.

In 1969, a second series of aluminium 5, 10, 20, 50 qintars and 1 Lek coins was released commemorating the 1944 liberation from fascism. The three smallest denominations remained similar in design to the 1964 series but depicted "1944-1969" on the obverse. The 50 qintar and lek coins showed patriotic and military images.

In 1988, a third redesign of aluminium 5, 10, 20, 50 qintars and 1 Lek coins was released. The 50 qindarka and 1 Lek coins were problematically identical in size, weight, and appearance, so aluminium-bronze 1 Lek coins with the inscription "Republika Popullore Socialiste e Shqipërisë" were released later that year for better identification. In 1989, a cupro-nickel 2 Lek coin was introduced.

All three of these coin series remained in circulation during and shortly after the 1991 revolution. On 1 January 1992, those coins lost their legal tender status, effectively making qintars obsolete.

Foreign exchange certificates

Similar to many other socialist countries, Albania issued foreign exchange certificates, which only circulated in specially designated shops, and their exchange into regular lek banknotes was prohibited.

Third lek

In 1995 and 1996, new coins were introduced in denominations of 1 Lek, 5 Lekë, 10 Lekë, 20 Lekë and 50 Lekë, with a bimetallic 100 Lekë added in 2000.These coins use the letter e instead of the correct ë, but banknotes are spelt correctly.

Coins of the lek (1995–present)[12]
Image Value Technical parameters Description Dates
Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse Year of minting Year of issue
1 Lek 18.1 mm 1.6 mm 3 g Bronze (1996), Copper-plated Steel (2008-2013) Smooth A pelican in the centre,
"Republika e Shqipërisë", year
Nominal value,
branches artistically carved in the form of a crown
1996, 2008, 2013 1996
5 Lekë 20 mm 1.6 mm 3.12 g Nickel-plated Steel Eagle from the Flag of Albania,
"Republika e Shqipërisë", year
1995, 2000, 2011, 2014, 2020 1995
10 Lekë 21.25 mm 1.5 mm 3.6 g Aluminum-bronze (1996-2000), Brass-plated Steel (2009-2018) Milled Berat Castle, "Republika e Shqipërisë", year 1996, 2000, 2009, 2013, 2018 1996
20 Lekë 23 mm 2 mm 4.6 g Aluminum-bronze (1996-2000), Brass-plated Steel (2012-2020) A Liburne ship, "Republika e Shqipërisë", year 1996, 2000, 2012, 2016, 2020 1996
50 Lekë 24.25 mm 1.5 mm 5.5 g Copper-nickel Portrait of the Illyrian King Gentius, Republika e Shqipërisë",
1996, 2000, 2020 1996
50 Lekë 24.25 mm 5.5 g Copper-nickel An Illyrian helmet, "Republika e Shqipërisë", "Antikiteti Shqiptar", year[13][14] Nominal value, divided by a horizontal line and in the arch above "Antikiteti Shqiptar"[13][14] 2003 2004
100 Lekë 24.75 mm 1.9 mm 6.7 g Bi-Metallic: Aluminium-bronze centre in Copper-nickel ring Portrait of the Illyrian Queen Teuta, "Republika e Shqipërisë", year Nominal value,
branches artistically carved in the form of a crown
2000 2000
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.

Commemorative coins

In 2001, 100 Lekë and 200 Lekë were issued under the theme of Albania's integration into the EU and 50, 100, and 200 lekë under the 500th anniversary of the Statue of David. In 2002, 50 Lekë and 100 Le5k were issued for the 90th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania and 20 Lek under the Albanian Antiquity theme. In 2003, 50 lekë was issued in memory of the 100th anniversary of the death of Jeronim De Rada. In 2004, 50 Lekë was issued under the Albanian Antiquity theme depicting traditional costumes of Albania and the ancient Dea. In 2005, 50 Lekë were issued for the 85th anniversary of the proclamation of Tirana as capital and the theme of traditional costumes of Albania.


First lek

In 1926, the National Bank of Albania (Banka Kombëtare e Shqipnis) introduced notes in denominations of Fr.A. 1, Fr.A. 5, Fr.A. 20 and Fr.A. 100. In 1939, notes were issued in denominations of Fr.A. 5 and Fr.A. 20. These were followed in 1944 with notes for 2 Lek, 5 Lek, 10 Lek, and Fr.A. 100.

In 1945, the People's Bank of Albania (Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar) issued overprints on National Bank notes for 10 Lek, Fr.A. 20 and Fr.A. 100. Regular notes were also issued in 1945 in denominations of 1, Fr.A. 5, Fr.A. 20, Fr.A. 100 and Fr.A. 500. In 1947, the franga-ari was discontinued and the lek was adopted as the main currency unit, with notes issued for 10 Lek, 50 Lek, 100 Lek, 500 Lek and 1000 Lek.

1947 series
Obverse Reverse Value
10 Lek
50 Lek
100 Lek
500 lekë
1,000 Lek
1949 and 1957 series
Obverse Reverse Value
10 Lek
50 Lek
100 Lek
500 Lek
1,000 Lek

Second lek

In 1965, notes (dated 1964) were introduced by the Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar in denominations of 1 Lek, 3 Lek, 5 Lek, 10 Lek, 25 Lek, 50 Lek and 100 Lek. A second series of notes was issued in 1976 when the country changed its name to the People's Socialist Republic.

1964 and 1976 series
Obverse Reverse Value Colour Obverse Reverse
1 Lek Green Peasant couple with wheat Rozafa Castle, Shkodër
3 Lek Brown Woman carrying basket of fruit Vlora
5 Lek Purple Steam train and truck Ship
10 Lek Green Woman working in a textile mill Bureaucrats and peasants socializing outside the Palace of Culture, Naim Frashëri
25 Lek Dark blue Woman with wheat, combine harvesting Mechanized ploughing
50 Lek Red Army on parade, Skanderbeg Mosin–Nagant rifle, pickaxe, apartment block under construction
100 Lek Scarlet Man showing his son a new hydroelectric dam Steelworker with oil worker, gesturing grandly, steelworks and oil wells in background
1991 Series
100 Lek purple Steelworkers in front of a factory factory
500 Lek blue, orange Woman with sunflowers, denonimation ornament Mountain landscae

1992 series

Due to the shortage of cash in circulation, in 1992, banknotes of 10 and 50 foreign currency leks (Lek Valutë ) were issued, while their value was increased 50 times: 10 foreign currency leks = 500 leks, 50 foreign currency leks = 2500 leks . The banknotes were in circulation for only one year and were soon replaced by banknotes of the 1992 model. A banknote of 1 currency lek was printed, but not put into circulation.[15]

1992 Series
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
1 Lek 165×75 Violet Steel worker Electrical transmission towers, hydroelectric generator
10 Lek Green
50 Lek Brown
100 Lek 154 × 72 mm Violet National fighter Falcon and mountains
200 Lek 162 × 78 mm Brown Ismail Qemali Coat of arms of Albania, declaration of independence of Albania
500 Lek 170 × 78 mm Blue Naim Frashëri Poetry of Frashëri
1,000 Lek 178 × 78 mm Green Skanderbeg Krujë Castle

1997 series

On 11 July 1997, a new series of banknotes dated 1996-97 was introduced.[16]

Notes dated 1996 were printed by De La Rue in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

The 2000 lek note was introduced in 2008.

1996 Series[17]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
100 Lek 130 × 66 mm Purple/Orange Fan S. Noli (1882–1965) First Albanian Parliament building
 200 Lek 138 × 69mm Brown Naim Frashëri (1846–1900) House birthplace of Frashëri
500 Lek 145 × 68 mm Blue Ismail Qemali (1844–1919) Vlorë independence building
1,000 Lek 151 × 72 mm Green Pjetër Bogdani (1630–1689) Gothic Church of Vau
2,000 Lek 160 x 72 mm Purple King Gent (Gentius) (181 BC–168 BC); three ancient coins Amphitheatre at Butrinto (near Saranda), yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)
5,000 Lek 160 × 72 mm Olive Green Skanderbeg (1405–1468) Krujë Castle

2019–2022 series

In 2019, the Bank of Albania unveiled a new series of banknotes, featuring the same themes as seen on the 1997 series, but with improved security features and a change in material for the 200 Lek banknote; now being issued as a polymer banknote.

This series has also introduced a new denomination, the 10,000 Lek, its highest denominated banknote issued for general circulation. The first two denominations issued for this series, the 200 and 5,000 lekë banknote were issued for circulation on 30 September 2019, with the 1,000 Lek and 10,000 Lek banknotes being released on 30 June 2021, and the 2,000 Lek and 500 Lek banknotes being released on 17 January 2022.

2019–2022 series[17]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
200 Lek 125 mm x 65 mm Brown Naim Frashëri House birthplace of Frashëri, paper with a famous verse from one of Frashëri's poems
500 Lek 132 mm x 69 mm Blue Ismail Qemali Vlorë independence building, the telegraph which was used to announce the country's independence, and the room where the decision was made
1,000 Lek 139 mm x 69 mm Green Pjetër Bogdani Gothic Church of Vau
2,000 Lek 146 mm x 72 mm Purple King Gent (Gentius); three ancient coins Amphitheatre at Butrint (near Saranda), yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)
5,000 Lek 153 mm x 72 mm Yellow Skanderbeg Krujë Castle, Skanderbeg's monument in Tirana's Skanderbeg Square, and his helmet
10,000 Lek 160 mm x 72 mm Orange Asdreni (1872–1947) Figurative symbols of national flag, first two lines from the national anthem

Exchange rates

Current ALL exchange rates

See also



  1. ^ "Albania". CIA World Factbook 1990 - page 3. 1 April 1990. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  2. ^ Bank of Albania. Available at:"A brief history of the Bank of Albania". Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  3. ^ Kera, Gentiana; Pandelejmoni, Enriketa (2022). "Austrian-Hungarian Military Administration in Albania During World War I". Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade: 31–50. Retrieved 15 November 2023.
  4. ^ Trade Information Bulletin, Numbers 79 to 118, 1923
  5. ^ Ceca, Kliti; Rexha, Kelmend; Orhan, Elsida (2008). "Banking and Finance in South-Eastern Europe: the Albanian Case". Bank of Greece. 84. SSRN 4165566. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  6. ^ Jürgen Fischer, Bernd (1999). Albania at War 1939-1945. United Kingdom: C Hurst & Co. p. 48. ISBN 1-85065-531-6.
  7. ^ State, US Dept of. (1970). Foreign Relations of the United States: 1946. United States of America: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 806.
  8. ^ Leslie Alan Dunkling; Adrian Room (1 January 1990). The Guinness Book of Money. Guinness Publishing. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-85112-399-8. ...the lek takes its name from the abbreviated name of Alexander the Great, who was associated with this region of Europe...
  9. ^ Howard M. Berlin (2006). World Monetary Units: An Historical Dictionary, Country By Country. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7864-2080-3. ...The current monetary unit, the lek, is derived from the abbreviation of the Albanian spelling of Alexander the Great...
  10. ^ "Coins minted from 1926 to 1945". Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Albanian Gold Coins – Albania". Archived from the original on 5 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Coins in circulation".
  13. ^ a b "Monedha të qarkullimit". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  14. ^ a b "50 Lekë". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Banknotes issued from 1945-1992". 30 April 2012. Archived from the original on 30 April 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  16. ^ Bank of Albania. Available at: Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ a b Bank of Albania. Available at: "Kartėmonedha tė qarkullimit". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2012.