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Egyptian Currency

The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. The currency is often written as LE (short for French Livre Égyptienne) or by using the pound sign £. In Arabic, the pound is called gunaih, in turn derived from English "guinea", and piastres are known as qirsh or irsh.

The Egyptian pound has been devaluating gradually over the last several decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Egyptian pound was rated almost the same as the British pound. As of April 2011, the Egyptian pound is worth about 10 times less. Other currencies value as follows: $1 = £E6; €1 = £E8; A$1 = £E6.3.

In 1961, the Central Bank of Egypt took over from the National Bank and issued notes in denominations of 25 and 50 piastres, £E1.5, £E10 and £E20 notes were introduced in 1976, followed by £E100 in 1978, £E50 in 1993 and £E200 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 £E200 and £E500 notes. As of 2007, there are £E200 notes circulating in Egypt and subsequently £E500 notes will start circulating. As of the summer of 2009, banknotes of £E1 and £E1.5 are being phased out, replaced by more extensive use of coins. Presumably quarter pound notes will be phased out as well.

On June 1, 2006, 50 piastre and £E1 coins (dated 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 and composition of 50 piastre coins was reduced in 2007.

With the possible exception of the now-ubiquitous 1-pound coin, coins are encountered much less frequently than notes, even for the smallest amounts, but coins down to 5 piastres remain legal tender. However, some vendors may refuse to accept 5 and 10 piastre coins, on account of their low value and the consequent difficulty in giving them back in change; prices tend to be rounded to the nearest quarter pound, making 50 and 25 piastre coins much more common.





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