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The Egyptian Pound

Monday، 17 December 2012 12:00 AM

The Egyptian pound is divided into 100 piaster or 1,000 milliemes. The ISO 4217 code is EGP.

In 1834, a Khedival Decree was issued providing for the issuing of an Egyptian currency based on a bimetallic base, i.e.: based on gold and silver. The Egyptian pound, known as the gineih, was introduced, replacing the Egyptian piaster (qirsh) as the chief unit of currency. The piaster continued to circulate as 1⁄100 of a pound, with the piaster subdivided into 40 para. In 1885, the para ceased to be issued, and the piaster was divided into tenths These tenths were renamed milliemes (malleem) in 1916.

The legal exchange rates were fixed by force of law for important foreign currencies which became acceptable in the settlement of internal transactions. Eventually this led to Egypt using a de facto gold standard between 1885 and 1914, with one Egyptian Pound = 7.4375 grams pure gold. At the outbreak of World War I, the Egyptian pound was pegged to the British pound sterling at EGP 0.975 per GBP 1.

Egypt remained part of the Sterling Area until 1962, when Egypt devalued slightly and switched to a peg to the United States dollar, at a rate of 1 Egyptian pound = 2.3 dollars. This peg was changed to 1 pound = 2.55555 dollars in 1973 when the dollar was devalued. The pound was itself devalued in 1978 to a peg of 1 pound = 1.42857 dollars (1 dollar = 0.7 pound). The pound floated in 1989; however, the float is tightly managed by the Central Bank of Egypt and foreign exchange controls are in effect.

The National Bank of Egypt issued banknotes for the first time on 3 April 1899. The Central Bank of Egypt and the National Bank of Egypt were unified into the Central Bank of Egypt in 1961.

Between 1834 and 1836, copper 1 and 5 para, silver 10 and 20 para, 1, 5, 10 and 20 piaster, gold 5, 10 and 20 piaster and 1 pound coins were introduced, with gold 50 piaster coins following in 1839. (1 Para = 1⁄40 Piaster).
Copper 10 para coins were introduced in 1853, although the silver coin continued to be issued. Copper 10 para coins were again introduced in 1862, followed by copper 4 para and 21⁄2 piaster coins in 1863. Gold 25 piaster coins were introduced in 1867.

In 1885, a new coinage was introduced consisting of bronze 1⁄4, 1⁄2, 1, 2 and 5 milliemes, silver 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 piaster coins. The gold coinage practically ceased, with only small numbers of 5 and 10 piaster coins issued.

In 1916 and 1917, a new base metal coinage was introduced consisting of bronze 1⁄2 millieme and holed copper-nickel 1, 2, 5 and 10 millieme coins. Silver 2, 5, 10 and 20 piaster coins continued to be issued, and a gold 1 pound coin was reintroduced. Between 1922 and 1923, the gold coinage was extended to include 20 and 50 piaster and 1 and 5 pound coins. In 1924, bronze replaced copper-nickel in the 1 millieme coin and the holes were removed from the other copper-nickel coins. In 1938, bronze 5 and 10 millieme coins were introduced, followed in 1944 by silver, hexagonal 2 piaster coins.

Between 1954 and 1956, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of aluminum-bronze 1, 5 and 10 millieme and silver 5, 10 and 20 piaster coins, with the size of the silver coinage significantly reduced. An aluminum-bronze 2 millieme coin was introduced in 1962. In 1967 the silver coinage was abandoned and copper-nickel 5 and 10 piaster coins were introduced.

Aluminum replaced aluminum-bronze in the 1, 5 and 10 millieme coins in 1972, followed by brass in the 5 and 10 millieme coins in 1973. Aluminum-bronze 2 piaster and copper-nickel 20 piaster coins were introduced in 1980, followed by aluminum-bronze 1 and 5 piaster coins in 1984. In 1992, brass 5 and 10 piaster coins were introduced followed by holed, copper-nickel 25 piaster coins in 1993. The size of 5 piaster coins was reduced in 2004, 10 and 25 piaster coins - in 2008.


On June 1, 2006, 50 piaster and 1 pound coins with date 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 piaster 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 piasters remain legal tender. However, some vendors may refuse to accept five- and ten-piaster 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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