The “lek” was derived from the name of Alexander the Great who was often called by his shortened name “Leka”. That explains why Alexander the Great’s portrait was shown on the obverse and him on a horseback on the reverse of the first Albanian 1 lek coin.
Though Albania’s coins were first struck in the 4th-century B.C in the cities of Dyrrachium and Apollonia, the country had its first national currency only in 1926 following the inception of the National Bank of Albania on September 22, 1925. When the bank was established, legal tenders from different countries across the globe were circulating in the country. As a result, the national bank issued a single monetary unit - the golden frang and its lek and cents subunits.
After the Second World War, the bank’s operations and obligations were discontinued and the State Bank of Albania was established in 1945. In 1947, the Albanian lek was introduced as the country’s national currency under the 7 July 1947 Decree-Law, replacing the golden frang.
When Albania changed its name to the People’s Socialist Republic in 1965, the second lek notes were released by the Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar (People’s Bank of Albania)
In 1991, the security thread was inserted for the first time as a measure to enhance the banknote’s security features.
In 1992, the Bank of Albania was created and in that same year, the signatures of the bank governor and the Director of the Issue and Currency Administration Department appeared for the first time.
With the growing demand for currency, the Bank of Albania has released a new set of banknotes that has been reissued several times with strengthened security features. In 2019, the Bank of Albania unveiled its new set of banknotes highlighting the country’s history periods by portraying respective influential personalities.