Syrian pound

The Syrian pound or Syrian lira (Arabic: الليرة السورية, romanized: al-līra as-sūriyya; sign: LS or £S; code: SYP) is the currency of Syria and is issued by the Central Bank of Syria. The pound is subdivided into 100 qirsh (قرش, plural: قروش, qurūsh, piastres in English or French), although coins in qirsh are no longer issued. The standard abbreviation for the Syrian pound is SYP.

Syrian pound
Arabic: الليرة السورية
50-pound banknote
ISO 4217
SymbolLS or £S
Banknotes50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 pounds
Coins5, 10, 25, 50 pounds
User(s) Syria
Central bankCentral Bank of Syria
SourceThe World Factbook, 2017 est.
Value2512 SYP = 1 USD (official)
2950 SYP = 1 USD (free market range)
As of 25 April 2021[1]

Before 1947, the word qirsh was spelled with the initial Arabic letter غ, after which the word began with ق. Until 1958, banknotes were issued with Arabic on the obverse and French on the reverse. After 1958, English has been used on the reverses, hence the three different names for this currency. Coins used both Arabic and French until independence, then only Arabic.


During the period when Syria was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which lasted about 400 years, the Ottoman lira was its main currency. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the placing of Syria under a mandate (French occupation), the Egyptian pound was used in the territories under French and British mandates, including Lebanon, Transjordan and Palestine. Upon taking Lebanon and Syria under its separate mandate, the French government sought to replace the Egyptian currency and granted a commercial bank, the Banque de Syrie (a French affiliate of the Ottoman Bank), the authority to issue a currency for territories under its new mandate.

The pound (or livre as it was then known) was introduced in 1919 and was pegged at a value of 20 French francs.[2] As the political status of Lebanon evolved, the Banque de Syrie, which was to act as the official bank for Lebanon and Syria, was renamed the Banque de Syrie et du Grand-Liban (BSL). BSL issued the Syro-Lebanese pound for 15 years, starting in 1924. Two years before the expiration of the 15-year period, BSL split the Lebanese-Syrian currency into two separate currencies that could still be used interchangeably in either state. In 1939, the bank was renamed the Banque de Syrie et du Liban.

In 1941, the peg to the French franc was replaced by a peg to the British pound of 8.83125 Syrian pounds = 1 British pound, as a consequence of the occupation of Syria by British and Free French forces. This rate was based on the pre-war conversion rate between the franc and sterling. In 1946, following devaluation of the franc, the pound was pegged once again to the franc at a rate of 1 pound = 54.35 francs. In 1947, Syria joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and pegged its currency to the U.S. dollar at 2.19148 pounds = 1 dollar, a rate which was maintained until 1961. The Lebanese and Syrian currencies split in 1948. From 1961, a series of official exchange rates were in operation, alongside a parallel, black market rate which reflected the true market rate for Syrian pounds in Jordan and Lebanon where there was a healthy trade in the Syrian currency. The market was allowed to flourish because everybody, including government and public sector companies, needed it. The black market rate diverged dramatically from the official rate in the 1980s.[3] In July 2007, the currency was pegged to the IMF SDR (Special Drawing Rights).[4]

Syrian Civil War

Monthly averages of Official USD/SYP Exchange rate from January 2011 to July 2016

There was a capital flight to nearby countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, as a result of the Syrian Civil War that started in 2011. In addition, Syria has been subject to sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and other countries, which shut Syria out of the global financial system. To circumvent the sanctions, Syrians effected foreign transactions through banks in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon.[5] As a result, the official exchange rate has deteriorated significantly, falling from 47 SYP = US$1 in March 2011[6] to 515 SYP = US$1 in July 2017.

On 31 October 2019, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad mentioned in an interview that:

One factor which people are not aware of, is that the liberation of an area does not necessarily serve the Syrian Pound, because by liberating an area, we are removing its access to dollars which were paid to the terrorists to cover their needs and expenses. This is one of the tools we benefited from. I mean that things are not absolute, and we cannot say that terrorists were serving us in this regard. Not every positive step has a positive impact. That is why I am saying that the issue is complicated.


Exchange rate

On 5 December 2005, the selling rate quoted by the Commercial Bank of Syria was 48.4 SYP = US$1. A rate of about 50 SYP to US$1 was usual in the early 2000s, but the rate is subject to fluctuations. Since the start of the civil war in 2011, the pound's unofficial exchange rate has deteriorated significantly. It was 47 SYP = US$1 in March 2011 and 515 SYP in July 2017. Since July 2007, the Syrian pound has been pegged to the IMF SDR (Special Drawing Rights).[8]

On 29 November 2019, following the Lebanese protests, the black market rate was 765 SYP = US$1, a decrease of 30% since the turmoil started in Lebanon a month earlier, as the protests led Lebanese banks to impose tight controls on hard currency withdrawals and transfers abroad, making it hard for Syrians to access funds held by them in those banks.[2][5]

The black-market rate fell to 950 SYP on 2 December 2019, another 25% decrease,[9] while the official rate set by the central bank was 434 SYP = US$1.

On 13 January 2020, the currency deteriorated further, as more than 1000 SYP was traded for US$1 in the black market, despite being valued at 434 SYP = US$1 by the Syrian Central Bank.[10] During the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria, the Syrian pound continued to fall against the U.S. dollar in the black market, where US$1 equaled more than 1600 SYP in May 2020.[11] A month later, the Syrian pound passed 2000 against the dollar,[12][13] and a few days later, it passed 3000 against the dollar.[14]

Upon the implementation of the U.S. sanctions related to the Caesar Act, anti-government local authorities in Idlib Governorate adopted the Turkish lira in place of the plummeting Syrian pound.[15]

On 3 March 2021, the Syrian pound hit a new record low on the black market, where US$1 bought 4,000 SYP, affected by a new low of Lebanese pound which hit 10,000 to the dollar.[16] By June 2021, the Syrian pound was around 3,150 to the dollar.[17]


In 1921, cupro-nickel 12 qirsh coins were introduced, followed in 1926 by aluminium bronze 2 and 5 qirsh. In 1929, holed, nickel-brass 1 qirsh and silver 10, 25 and 50 qirsha were introduced. Nickel-brass 12 qirsh were introduced 1935, followed by zinc 1 qirsh and aluminium-bronze 2½ qirsh in 1940. During the Second World War, brass 1 qirsh and aluminium 2+12 qirsh emergency coins were issued. These pieces were crudely produced and undated.

A new coinage was introduced between 1947 and 1948 in denominations of 2+12, 5, 10, 25 and 50 qirsh and 1 pound, with the 2+12, 5 and 10 qirsh struck in cupro-nickel and the others in silver. Aluminium-bronze replaced cupro-nickel in 1960, with nickel replacing silver in 1968. In 1996, following high inflation, new coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 pounds, with the 25 pounds a bimetallic coin. In 2003, 5, 10, and 25 pound coins were issued, with latent images. On December 26, 2018, the Central Bank of Syria introduced a 50 Syrian pounds coin for general circulation and to also replace the banknote of said denomination.[18]


In 1919, the Banque de Syrie introduced notes for 5, 25 and 50 qirsha, 1 and 5 livres. These were followed, in 1920, by notes for 1 qirsh and 10, 25, 50 and 100 livres. In 1925, the Banque de Syrie et du Grand-Liban began issuing notes and production of denominations below 25 qirsha ceased. Notes below 1 livre were not issued from 1930. In 1939, the issuing body again changed its name, to the Banque de Syrie et du Liban.

Between 1942 and 1944, the government introduced notes for 5, 10, 25 and 50 qirsha. In the early 1950s, undated notes were issued by the Institut d'Emission de Syrie in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 livres, followed by notes dated 1955 for 10 and 25 livres. The Banque Centrale de Syrie took over paper money issuance in 1957, issuing the same denominations as the Institut d'Emission.

In 1958, the French language was removed from banknotes and replaced by English. Notes were issued for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 pounds. In 1966, the design of the 25, 50, and 100 pound notes was changed. In 1976 and 1977, the designs changed for all the denominations except the 500-pound note. In 1997 and 1998, a new series of notes was introduced in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pounds, with the lower denominations replaced by coins. In 2009, the 50, 100, and 200 pound notes were changed with an entirely new design.[19] On 2 July 2014, a new 500-pound note was introduced, followed by a 1,000-note on 30 July 2015, a 2,000-pound note on 2 July 2017, and a 5,000-pound note on 24 January 2021.[20]

2010 series

On 27 July 2010, the Central Bank of Syria issued a new series of banknotes dated 2009 in denominations of 50, 100, and 200 pounds. The notes were designed by Austrian banknote designer Robert Kalina.[21] The Central Bank of Syria issued new 500-pound and 1,000-pound notes in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The reverse of the new 1,000-pound note features an image of a Roman mosaic painting discovered in Deir al-Adas.[22] President Bashar al-Assad was added to the 2,000-pound note in 2017. A 5,000-pound note was released in January 2021.

50 pounds
Arabic obverse: A rectangular Ugarit tablet of first Abjad, and a circular Ebla tablet. English reverse: Al-Assad National Library and a statue of Hafez Al-Assad.
100 pounds
Arabic obverse: Archway of main gate and Roman Theatre at Bosra. English reverse: The dome of the Treasury from the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Central Bank of Syria headquarters building, ancient coin of Philip.
200 pounds
Arabic obverse: Norias of Hama. English reverse: Ceiling of Temple of Bel in Palmyra.
500 pounds
Arabic obverse: Damascus Opera House. English reverse: "Mosaic of the Musicians" from a Byzantine villa in Maryamin.[23] The clay tablet depicts the Hurrian songs, the oldest surviving substantially complete work of notated music, found in Ugarit.
1000 pounds
Arabic obverse: Roman Theatre at Palmyra. English reverse: Roman mosaic of a grape harvest in Deir al-Adas.
2000 pounds
Arabic obverse: President Bashar al-Assad and the Umayyad Mosque. English reverse: Interior of the People's Council of Syria.
5000 pounds
Arabic obverse: Syrian soldier saluting next to the Flag of Syria. English reverse: Fresco from the Temple of Baalshamin in the ancient city of Palmyra.

See also

  • Economy of Syria
Current SYP exchange rates

from Lira news: USD TRY


  1. "US Dollar Exchange Rates history | Syrian Pound Today".
  2. "Syria (barely) survived a civil war. Can it weather the latest financial crisis?". Los Angeles Times. 29 November 2019.
  3. Syria: The businessman can't play his hand Euromoney May 1986.
  4. "Syria ends pound's peg to U.S. dollar". The Globe and Mail. 5 June 2007.
  5. "Lebanon crisis wreaks havoc on Syria's war-torn economy". Reuters. 29 November 2019.
  6. أرشيف أسعار العملات الأجنبية عام 2011 (XLS) (in Arabic). Central Bank of Syria. 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  7. "President al-Assad's interview given to al-Sourya and al-Ikhbarya TVs". SANA. 31 October 2019.
  8. "Syria ends pound's peg to U.S. dollar" via The Globe and Mail.
  9. "Syrian pound hits record low in panic selling, dealers say". Reuters. 2 December 2019.
  10. "Syrian Pound Hits Record Low of 1,000 against the Dollar". Asharq Al-Awsat. 13 January 2020.
  11. "Syrian pound continues to devaluate against USD". Xinhuanet. 17 May 2020.
  12. "Syrian pound passes 2000 against dollar as new policies fail to stop freefall". Syria direct. 3 June 2020.
  13. "Syrian pound hits record low against dollar in panic trading, dealers say". Reuters. 4 June 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  14. "Syrian pound hits record low ahead of new U.S. sanctions: dealers". Reuters. 9 June 2020.
  15. "Syria's Idlib adopts Turkish lira in place of plummeting pound". France 24. 15 June 2020.
  16. "Syrian pound hits new low in contagion from neighboring Lebanon's currency crisis". Reuters. 3 March 2021.
  17. Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  18. 50 Liras Numista (). Retrieved on 2020-05-20.
  19. Linzmayer, Owen (2013). "Syria". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA:
  20. "Syria floats new bank note amid soaring inflation". The Age. 25 January 2021.
  21. Syria new 50-, 100-, and 200-pound notes confirmed July 27, 2010. Retrieved on 2013-02-19.
  22. "Updated-CBS puts into circulation new SYP 1,000 banknotes to replace worn-out currency". June 30, 2015.
  23. Ring, Trudy (1994), International Dictionary of Historic Places: Middle East and Africa, 4, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 1884964036


  • Krause, Chester L.; Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501.
  • Pick, Albert (1994). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (7th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-207-9.
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