The lek (plural lekë) (sign: L; code: ALL) is the currency of Albania. It is subdivided into 100 qindarka (singular qindarkë), although qindarka are no longer issued.
Introduced in 1926 by King Ahmet Zogu, the First Lek was named after the Albanian feudal Lekë Dukagjini. The name qindarkë comes from the Albanian qind, meaning one hundred. Qindarkë thus carries the same meaning as centime, cent, centesimo, stotinka, eurocent, etc.
In 1926, bronze coins were introduced in denominations of 5 and 10 qindar leku, together with nickel ¼, ½ and 1 lek, and silver 1, 2 and 5 franga ar. In 1935, bronze 1 and 2 qindar were issued, equal in value to the 5 and 10 qindar leku.
After the Italian occupation, stainless-steel 0.20, 0.50, 1 and 2 lek and silver 5 and 10 lek were introduced, with the silver coins only issued that year but aluminium-bronze 0.05 and 0.10 lek introduced in 1940. These coins were issued until 1941.
In 1947, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of zinc ½, 1, 2 and 5 lekë. This coinage was again minted in 1957 and used until the currency reform of 1965.
In 1965, aluminium coins (dated 1964) were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 qindar and 1 lek. In 1995 and 1996, a new coinage was introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lekë, with a bimetallic 100 lekë added in 2000.
The obverses have various designs with the inscription "Republika e Shqipërisë" (Republic of Albania) and the year of production. All have the value with branches on the reverse.
* 1 lek: Pelican
* 5 lekë: The eagle from the Flag of Albania
* 10 lekë: Castle of Berat city
* 20 lekë: Liburnian ship
* 50 lekë: Portrait of the Illyrian King Gentius
* 100 lekë: Portrait of the Illyrian Queen Teuta
* 500 lekë: Portrait of Scanderbeg
In 2001, 100 and 200 Leke were issued under the theme of Albania's integration into the EU and 50, 100, and 200 Leke under the 500th anniversary of the Statue of David. In 2002, 50 Leke and 100 Leke were issued for the 90th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania and 20 Leke under the Albanian Antiquity theme. In 2003, 50 Leke was issued in memory of the 100th anniversary of the death of Jeronim De Rada. In 2004, 50 Leke was issued under the Albanian Antiquty theme depicting traditional costumes of Albania and the ancient Dea. In 2005, 50 Leke were issued for the 85th anniversary of the proclamation of Tirana as capital and the theme of traditional costumes of Albania.
In 1926, the National Bank of Albania (Banka Kombëtare e Shqipnis) introduced notes in denominations of 1, 5, 20 and 100 franka ari. In 1939, notes were issued denominated as 5 and 20 franga. These were followed in 1944 with notes for 2, 5 and 10 lek and 100 franga.
In 1945, the People's Bank of Albania (Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar) issued overprints on National Bank notes for 10 lek, 20 and 100 franga. Regular notes were also issued in 1945 in denominations of 1, 5, 20, 100 and 500 franga. In 1947, the lek was adopted as the main denominations, with notes issued for 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lekë.
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