The Republic of Lebanon is nestled at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria and Israel, and Cyprus is to its west across the Mediterranean Sea. Its location has shaped its multicultural identity and rich history.
Lebanon only occupies an area of 10,452 square kilometers which makes it one of the world’s smallest countries. It is an upper-middle-income state and is considered a developing country. Its free-market economy is service-oriented, focused on banking and tourism. Foreign investment isn’t restricted in the country but is hurt by corruption, high taxes, corruption, poor intellectual property rights, tariffs, and fees.
The civil war that took place from 1975 until 1990 has severely damaged the country’s financial infrastructure and slashed national production by 50%. In an effort to rebuild its economic and physical structures, the government borrowed heavily from local banks. To reduce its national debt, Lebanon implemented an austerity policy that reduced government spending and increased revenue.
The country’s official currency is the Lebanese pound or livre which was initially subdivided into 100 piastres. The subdivision was halted due to hyperinflation during the Lebanese Civil War. The first set of Lebanese pound banknotes was issued by the Bank of Syria and Greater Lebanon in1925. The bank was renamed the Bank of Syria and Lebanon in 1939. A 250-livre banknote was issued for the first time that year.
On April 1, 1964, the Bank of Lebanon was formed and took over the production and issuance of notes. Banknotes issued between 1964 and 1988 were in denominations of 1, 5,10, 25, 50,100, and 250 pounds. They bear Arabic text on the obverse and French on the back. These paper bills are equipped with security fibers and depict Lebanon’s landmarks and heritage.
With the hyperinflation caused by the civil war, Lebanon needed to issue higher denomination banknotes. Therefore, in 1988, 500 and 1,000-pound banknotes were released. Recent banknotes have similar designs with Dutch paper bills, featuring abstract geometric patterns. Additionally, these paper bills have enhanced security features such as color-shifting windowed security threads and watermarks that reflect a cedar tree and an electrotype Arabic text.