The Egyptian Pound or Gineih (Arabic: الجنيه المصرى, el-Gineih el-Miṣrī) (sign: E£ or ج.م; code: EGP) is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 Qirush (Arabic: قروش, singular qirsh, قرش, Turkish: Kuruş, English: piastre) (locally pronounced irsh), or 1000 Milliemes (Arabic: مليم, French: Millième) (Locally pronounced Malleem).
The ISO 4217 code is EGP. Locally, the abbreviation LE or L.E., which stands for livre égyptienne (French for Egyptian pound) is frequently used. E£ and £E are rarely used. The name Gineih was derived from the Guinea coin which had the almost the same value of 100 Qirush at the end of the 19th century.
In 1834, a Royal Decree promulgating a Parliamentary Bill was issued providing for the issuing of an Egyptian currency based on a bimetallic base. The Egyptian pound was introduced, replacing the Egyptian piastre as the chief unit of currency. The piastre continued to circulate, as 1⁄100 of a pound, with the piastre subdivided into 40 para. In 1885, the para ceased to be issued and the piastre was divided into tenths (عشرالقرش oshr el-qirsh). These tenths were renamed malleem (milliemes) in 1916.
The legal exchange rates were fixed by force of law for important foreign currencies which became acceptable in the settlement of internal transactions. Eventually this led to Egypt using a de facto gold standard between 1885 and 1914, with 1 Egyptian Pound = 7.4375 grams pure gold. At the outbreak of World War I, the Egyptian pound was pegged to the British pound sterling at EGP 0.975 per GBP 1.00.
The first one Egyptian Pound banknote issued in 1899
Egypt remained part of the Sterling Area until 1962, when Egypt devalued slightly and switched to a peg to the United States dollar, at a rate of 1 Egyptian pound = 2.3 dollars. This peg was changed to 1 Egyptian pound = 2.55555 dollars in 1973 when the dollar was devalued. The Egyptian pound was itself devalued in 1978 to a peg of 1 Egyptian pound = 1.42857 dollars (1 dollar = 0.7 Egyptian pound). The Egyptian pound floated in 1989; however, the float is tightly managed by the Central Bank of Egypt and foreign exchange controls are in effect.
The National Bank of Egypt issued banknotes for the first time on 3 April 1899. The Central Bank of Egypt and the National Bank of Egypt were unified into the Central Bank of Egypt in 1961.
For a wider history surrounding currency in the region, see The History of British Currency in the Middle East.
Between 1834 and 1836, copper 1 and 5 para , silver 10 and 20 para, 1, 5, 10 and 20 piastre, gold 5, 10 and 20 piastre and 1 pound coins were introduced, with gold 50 piastre coins following in 1839. (1 Para = 1⁄40 Piastre).
Copper 10 para coins were introduced in 1853, although the silver coin continued to be issued. Copper 10 para coins were again introduced in 1862, followed by copper 4 para and 21⁄2 piastre coins in 1863. Gold 25 piastre coins were introduced in 1867.
In 1885, a new coinage was introduced consisting of bronze 1⁄4 , 1⁄2 , 1, 2 and 5 millieme, silver 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 piastre coins. The gold coinage practically ceased, with only small numbers of 5 and 10 piastre coins issued.
In 1916 and 1917, a new base metal coinage was introduced consisting of bronze 1⁄2 millieme and holed, cupro-nickel 1, 2, 5 and 10 millieme coins. Silver 2, 5, 10 and 20 piastre coins continued to be issued, and a gold 1 pound coin was reintroduced. Between 1922 and 1923, the gold coinage was extended to include 20 and 50 piastre and 1 and 5 pound coins. In 1924, bronze replaced cupro-nickel in the 1 millieme coin and the holes were removed from the other cupro-nickel coins. In 1938, bronze 5 and 10 millieme coins were introduced, followed in 1944 by silver, hexagonal 2 piastre coins.
Between 1954 and 1956, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of aluminium-bronze 1, 5 and 10 millieme and silver 5, 10 and 20 piastre coins, with the size of the silver coinage significantly reduced. An aluminium-bronze 2 millieme coin was introduced in 1962. In 1967 the silver coinage was abandoned and cupro-nickel 5 and 10 piastre coins were introduced.
Aluminium replaced aluminium-bronze in the 1, 5 and 10 millieme coins in 1972, followed by brass in the 5 and 10 millieme coins in 1973. Aluminium-bronze 2 piastre and cupro-nickel 20 piastre coins were introduced in 1980, followed by aluminium-bronze 1 and 5 piastre coins in 1984. In 1992, brass 5 and 10 piastre coins were introduced, followed by holed, cupro-nickel 25 piastre coins in 1993. The size of 5 piastre coins was reduced in 2004, 10 and 25 piastre coins - in 2008.
On June 1, 2006, 50 piastre and 1 pound coins with date 2005 were introduced, with the equivalent banknotes to be scrapped later. The coins bear the faces of Cleopatra VII and Tutankhamun, and the 1 pound coin is bimetallic. The size of 50 piastre coins was reduced in 2007.
Coins, even for the smallest amounts, are encountered much less frequently than notes but coins down to 5 piastres remain legal currency.
In 1899, the National Bank of Egypt introduced notes in denominations of 50 Piastres, 1 5, 10, 50 and 100 Egyptian Pounds were introduced. Between 1916 and 1917, 25 Piastres notes were added, together with government currency notes for 5 and 10 Piastres. Issued intermittently, the 5 and 10 Piastres are today produced by the Ministry of Finance.
In 1961, the Central Bank of Egypt took over from the National Bank and issued notes in denominations of 25 and 50 Piasters, 1, 5 Pounds, 10 and 20 Pounds notes were introduced in 1976, followed by 100 gineih in 1978, 50 Pound in 1993 and 200 Egyptian Pounds in 2007.
All Egyptian banknotes are bilingual, with Arabic texts and Eastern Arabic numerals on the obverse and English and Hindu Arabic numerals on the reverse. Obverse designs tend to feature an Islamic building with reverse designs featuring Ancient Egyptian motifs (buildings, statues and inscriptions). During December 2006, it was mentioned in articles in Al Ahram and Al Akhbar newspapers that there were plans to introduce a 200 and 500 Pound notes. As of 2007, there are 200 Pound notes circulating in Egypt and subsequently 500 Pound notes will start circulating. As of the summer of 2009, banknotes of one pound and one half pound are being phased out, replaced by more extensive use of coins. Presumably quarter pound notes will be phased out as well.
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