5 Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About the Egyptian Pound

Last updated on March 7th, 2024 at 11:08 am

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Are you planning a trip to Egypt or looking to send money home? If so, you’ll need to turn your USD, CAD, or other currency into Egyptian pounds. If you’re looking for the current pound to dollar (or dollar to pound) exchange rate, you can look up today’s rate with Remitly. 

In this article, let’s take a look at the history of the Egyptian Pound and the fun facts about this currency.

Egyptian Pound Essentials

The Egyptian pound is the official currency for the Arab Republic of Egypt. The official code is EGP, although LE is frequently used to refer to the pound. It is divided into 100 piasters, and in Arabic, Egyptian pounds are called gineih, and piaster is called qirsh.

The Egyptian pound is mainly a paper currency, with notes available in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, and 50 and 25 piasters. Coins are available in denominations of 1 EGP and 50, 25, and 10 piasters. The symbol is a capital E followed by the same symbol used for the GBP.

A Short History of the Egyptian Pound

Before gold and silver coins were introduced in Egypt, there was no national currency for the country. Only local currencies had been coined. But, in 1834, new legislation approved the introduction of a new currency based on a bimetallic system of silver and gold. In 1836, the Egyptian pound was first coined and put into circulation.

Due to fluctuations in the value of silver and the fact that most countries trading with Europe had done the same, Egypt applied the gold standard about 30 years after they first introduced their currency. Then, in 1885, a huge economic crisis occurred. The country adopted the law of monetary reform at this time, which made the gold standard the basis for all money in the country and united the currency into the Egyptian pound.

It wasn’t until 1898, however, that the government created the National Bank of Egypt, which had the privilege of issuing Egyptian banknotes. They started issuing banknotes for the first time on April 3, 1899. The currencies in circulation at this time were gold sterling pounds and Egyptian banknotes convertible to gold.

In 1914, the government approved a special decree to make the Egyptian pound banknote the basic monetary unit. They then changed the basis of the national monetary system into standard paper money. In 1968, the Central Bank started issuing banknotes in different denominations. Over the years, the need for banknotes grew due to a stronger economy and different political factors, so the Central Bank started issuing banknotes in larger denominations.

Understanding Egypt Currency Exchange Rates

Initially, the legal exchange rates for the Egyptian pound were fixed to important foreign currencies. This became acceptable in the settlement of internal transactions. Eventually, it led to Egypt using the de facto gold standard until 1914.

When World War I broke out, the Egyptian pound used a sterling peg at one pound and sixpence sterling to one Egyptian pound. In 1962, Egypt devalued the pound slightly and switched to a peg to the United States dollar, at a rate of $2.30 per Egyptian pound.

Currently, it is not fixed to any currency, so exchange rates can fluctuate quite a bit. Banks update the exchange rates every day, so make sure to check the going exchange rate before you change your money.

5 Fascinating Facts About the Egyptian Pound

Here are some fun facts about the pound that you might not know.

1. Bill size corresponds to value.

The smaller the denomination of Egyptian pound banknotes, the smaller its physical size. Therefore, 200-pound notes are the largest, and 25-piaster notes are the smallest.

2. All Egyptian pound banknotes are bilingual.

All Egyptian notes have an Arabic face and an English face. The Arabic side has pictures of Islamic buildings in Egypt. The English side shows ancient Egyptian motifs with engravings of figures, statues, and temples.

3. The Design Speaks to the History of Egypt.

Egypt’s currency design is based largely on its ancient history. The coins include pictures of pharaohs, pyramids, and past dynasties, including Tutankhamun, Cleopatra, and the Pyramids of Giza.

Tutankhamun is featured on the highest denomination, the 1 pound coin, and it’s no wonder why! The myth of King Tut is world-famous, and his is one of just a few perfectly preserved Egyptian Royal Tombs.

Cleopatra also makes a fitting face for a coin, as a strong woman able to hold a country together throughout warfare in a male-dominated society.

4. The notes are printed with security measures.

In 1930, for the first time in the history of Egyptian banknotes, a watermark was used in issued banknotes. Then, in 1968, they began using a metallic thread instead of watermarking.

5. The pound has several unofficial nicknames.

Nicknames for the Egyptian pound include nekla, which comes from the word nickel, for 2 milliemes, ta’rifa for 5 milliemes, shelen for 5 piastres, bariza for 10 piastres, and reyal for 20 piastres.

One Egyptian pound is often called a Bolbol, which means nightingale, or Gondi, meaning soldier. One thousand EGP is called baku, meaning “pack,” 1,000,000 is called arnab, meaning “rabbit,” and 1,000,000,000 EGP is called feel, meaning “elephant.”

Visiting Egypt

People travel to Egypt from all over the world to visit the mighty Nile, the ancient wonders of the Pyramids, the enchanting desert, and the lush delta. The country also has a long and fascinating past, dating back to the time of the pharaohs, that lures in folks who want to see some of the magnificent monuments and get a lesson in history.

If you’re planning a trip to Egypt, you might be interested in the Red Sea’s world-class coral reefs and wrecks for divers to explore. You can go on four-wheel-drive adventures in the vast deserts, cruise on the Nile River, or head to the beautiful beaches at Sinai or the Red Sea coast. Archaeology fans will love checking out the treasures in Luxor, and Cairo is a city lover’s dream! There’s a little bit of something for everyone here.

Further reading: Egypt Revolution Day—A Day to Celebrate Freedom

Sending Money to Egypt

If you live abroad and plan to send money to Egypt, Remitly can help. When you use our app, you can easily send money from the U.S. or other countries to Egypt.

With our coverage across Egypt, from coast to coast, your recipients can pick up cash from locations they are familiar with. You can also send directly to an Egyptian bank account or debit card.

Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Our reliable and easy-to-use mobile app is trusted by over 5 million people around the world.

Visit the homepage or download our app to learn more.