The Republic of Albania lies within the Mediterranean Sea, on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, with neighboring nations of Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Albania was once a closed and centrally-planned market but had made a big leap to a modernized and open economy. The Albanian economy relies on the agricultural sector that comprises almost 50% of the workforce. Remittances by Albanians in Greece and Italy are also a major contributor to its GDP.
Shortages of energy caused by inadequate infrastructure have impacted Albania’s business enterprises. Between 2004 and 2008, Albania’s economic growth had an average of around 6%. However, it shrank to 3% in 2009.
The Albanian government has been keen on implementing measures to control crimes. It has also executed fiscal reform programs that reduce the gray market and draw investors from abroad.
Albania uses the Albanian lek for its legal tender. The first coins were already struck even during 4th-century B.C in Apollonia and Dyrrachium. However, the lek currency was only introduced in 1926, after the National Bank of Albania was formed on September 22, 1925. The lek was taken from the shortened name of Alexander the Great, “Leka”. This explains why the first lek coins featured the ancient Greek king of Macedon.
By the time that the bank was established, there were a lot of currencies from different countries circulating in Albania. Therefore, the National Bank of Albania introduced one official currency, which was the golden frang and its subunits - the cents and the lek.
Following World War II, the bank ceased to exist and in 1945, the State Bank of Albania was formed. In 1947, the lek became the nation’s official currency, replacing the golden frang in accordance with the 7 July 1947 Decree-Law. The 1940 lek banknotes featured the coat of arms of Albania. In 1965, the county changed its name to the People’s Socialist Republic. Consequently, the second lek banknotes were introduced by the People’s Bank of Albania. These banknotes had a “BANKA E SHTETIT SHQIPTAR overprint on their watermark area.
In 1991, banknotes bearing a security thread were released for the first time. In 1992, Albania’s economy fell down which was caused by the multiparty coalition government created in June of the previous year. To address the inflation need, the bank issued larger denominations. The Banka e Shqiperise or the Bank of Albania was established in the same year and released banknotes bearing the signatures of the bank governor and the Issue and Currency Administration Department Director.
In response to the growing need for paper bills, the Bank of Albania has issued a new family of notes which was reissued multiple times with upgraded security elements such as De La Rue’s latent image and Optically Variable Ink as well as Tumba Bruk’s windowed security thread and enhanced UV features. Finally, its 2019 issues of banknotes focus on the rich history of the country. Each banknote features a prominent Albanian personality who had played a significant role during a certain period.