The Syrian Arab Republic is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq. Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean in Western Asia. It is bestrewn with lush plains, highlands, and deserts. Various ethnic and religious communities such as the Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Turkmens, Circassians, Armenians, Sunnis, Christians, Shiites, Yazidis, and Salafis have emerged in the country. Its capital city Damascus and the city of Aleppo are one of the oldest cities in the world. Read along to learn about the history of Syrian banknotes.

Roman Ruins In Palmyra | Source: AS

The country’s national currency is the Syrian Lira (pound) which is divided into 100 piastres. Introduced in 1919, the lira replaced the Egyptian pound which was in circulation in the French and British territories following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Issuance of Syrian lira banknotes, as well as the Lebanese livre, is the responsibility of the Bank of Syria which was established on January 2, 1919. The first series of notes were issued between 1919 and 1920. These banknotes bear the bank name “Banque de Syrie” but they were used in Lebanon and Syria alike.  

Syria 50 Piastres Banknote | 1919 | P-3 | Source: Banknote World Educational

In 1924, the bank was renamed Bank of Syria and Greater Lebanon. The year after, it started issuing separate banknotes for Lebanon and Syria, although both versions were circulating in both nations. These notes can be distinguished by the country name in Arabic on the upper obverse and in French on the reverse. In 1958, the French text on Syrian banknotes was taken out and replaced by English.  

Syria 1 Pound Banknote | 1958 | P-86s | Source: Banknote World Educational

Formation Of The Central Bank

In March 1953, the Central Bank of Syria was formed and in addition it started its operation on August 1, 1956. The first family of notes was designed with the Syrian Republic coat of arms depicting the Hawk of Quraish with the national flag as its shield and holding a scroll with inscriptions that read “Syrian Arab Republic” in Arabic. 

Syria 500 Pounds Banknote | 1992 | P-105f | Source: Banknote World Educational

Modern Syrian Banknotes

In 2010, a new set of banknotes designed by Austrian designer Robert Kalina is released into the general public. These were in denominations of 50, 100, and 200 Syrian pounds and were also printed by Oesterreichische Banknoten und Sicherheitsdruck. Another set of notes was issued introduced between 2015 and 2017. These are in 500, 1,000, and 2,000 denominations and featured the Opera House, the Umayyad mosque, and also the ancient Roman amphitheater, respectively. 

Syrian 2,000 Pounds | 2018 | P-117c |Source: Banknote World Educational

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