The lira (Maltese: lira maltija, plural: liri, ISO 4217 code : MTL) was the currency of Malta from 1972 until 31 December 2007. The lira was abbreviated as Lm, although the traditional ₤ sign was often used locally. In English, the Maltese currency was sometimes referred to as the pound.
The euro replaced the Maltese lira as the official currency of Malta on 1 January 2008 at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of 0.429300 MTL per 1 euro.
Before 1972, the pound circulated, composed of British coins and banknotes supplemented by Maltese notes. Although using British coins, Malta did not decimalize with the UK in 1971. Instead, it adopted a decimal system in 1972, based on the lira (equal to the pound) subdivided into 1000 mils or 100 cents. The name "lira" was used on banknotes beginning in 1973, initially jointly with "pound", and exclusively on both coins and banknotes since 1986. Mils were removed from circulation in 1994.
On entry into the European Union, Malta agreed to adopt the euro. The lira was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2008, as part of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.
The Maltese lira was replaced by the euro as the official currency of Malta at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of 0.429300 MTL per 1 EUR. However, Maltese lira banknotes and coins continued to have legal tender status and were accepted for cash payments until 31 January 2008. Maltese liri were convertible free of charge at all Maltese credit institutions until 30 March 2008. Maltese coins will be convertible at the Central Bank of Malta until 1 February 2010, and banknotes until 31 January 2018.
The Maltese pound/lira was on a par with the British pound sterling (GBP) until the late 1970s, since then the lira had been allowed to float, anchored to a basket of reserve currencies. The lira had subsequently been worth around £1.60 sterling. After the Kuwaiti dinar, it was the second-highest-valued currency unit in the world, being worth US$3.1596 as of 28 April 2007. After the dollar weakened against other currencies in mid 2006, the lira was worth US$3.35289 as of 16 December 2007.
The currency entered the ERM II on 2 May 2005, by which its value had to be maintained within a 15% band around the central parity rate of 0.429300 LM per euro. The Central Bank of Malta and Maltese Government unilaterally decided to keep the actual LM/euro exchange rate equal to the central parity rate (i.e., doing away with the 15% band) throughout the ERM II period.
The irrevocable fixed conversion rate was established by the ECOFIN on 10 July 2007, at 0.4293 lira to one euro.
Decimal coinage was introduced in 1972 in denominations of 2, 3 and 5 mils, 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 cents. The division of the lira into 100 cents (rather than the 240 pence of the old system) meant that the cent was a relatively large unit - the United Kingdom introduced the decimal ½ penny for this reason. Malta went "one better" in introducing the mil. It will be noted that there was no 1 mil coin. However, the coins that were provided (2, 3, and 5 mils) allowed goods to be priced (and change given) for any number of mils. In 1975, a 25 cent coin was introduced.
A new coinage was issued in 1986 in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and 1 lira. A third series was introduced in 1991 due to the change in Malta's coat of arms. The mils were withdrawn in 1994, although for some time only the 5 mils had been seen (and then only rarely).
In 1973, banknotes were introduced, denominated in liri on the obverse and pounds on the reverse, in denominations of 1, 5 and 10 liri. In 1986, 1 lira notes were replaced by coins and 2 lira and 20 lira notes were introduced. Four series had been issuing, designated the second to the fifth series by the Central Bank, with the first series in the pound.
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