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Turkish Money

6/20/2010

Turkish Money

Currency: Turkish Lira (New Turkish Lira was introduced in 2005 – the ‘new’ was dropped in January 2009).

Notes are divided into 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 liras. A new 200 lira note has also been introduced - there was no 200 New Turkish Lira note before.

The lira is split into kurus (pronounced kurush). There are 100 kurus to one lira. Kurus coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kurus.  There is also a one lira coin.

 

A brief history of the Turkish lira

New or recent visitors to Turkey since 2005 don’t know how lucky they are – they can pay for food, drink, tickets and more with Turkish lira that doesn’t have six zeros on the end of every note! 

A loaf of bread in Turkey today will cost you around one lira. But imagine if instead you had to pay for your daily bread with one MILLION lira, or your evening meal with several more million. Even worse, picture yourself having to learn how to count up to several million in Turkish just so you can understand how much to pay for your weekly grocery bill! 

That is what life used to be like for visitors and locals alike before 2005. 

Chronic inflation in Turkey since the late 1970s, coupled with recessions in 1994 and 1999, as well as a banking crisis in 2001, saw the old Turkish lira depreciate heavily against other currencies. In 1966 the old Turkish lira was worth nine liras for every one US dollar, for instance. By 2004, you had to pay 1,350,000 lira for the same American dollar! 

Inflation was so bad (up to 70% at times) and the exchange rate so dire that new notes with bigger denominations had to be introduced almost every two years from 1981 to match prices. The Guinness Book of Records ranked the lira as the world’s least valuable currency in 1995, 1996 AND 1999 through to 2004.

Finally, the Turkish government acted. As well as putting in place a plan to tackle inflation (now standing at 10.1% at the end of 2008, predicted by the Central Bank of Turkey to be between 5.4 and 8.2% in 2009) and putting more controls into the banking sector, they also decided to reissue their currency.

So on January 1 2005, the New Turkish Lira – short code YTL (Yeni is the Turkish word for ‘new’) – was born.

Still split into 100 New Kurus (pronounced kurush), the New Turkish Lira looked very similar to the old currency with one fundamental difference – it chopped off all the zeros. A one million lira note, therefore, became a one lira note. And life became considerably easier for everyone - ask the shop assistant or the accountant who had to give change or count in the millions!

New denominations were now in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 New Turkish Lira and the old Turkish lira was withdrawn from circulation by the end of 2005. Since then, the Turkish economy has improved, with the lira even strengthening against the dollar on occasion. 

As of January 1 2009, the Turkish government have dropped the ‘new’ and the lira is just the lira once more. This is what you will be given if you change money in the banks, exchanges or use the ATMs. Don’t worry if you are given a new Turkish lira note on your holiday, however – you can still use them in shops and restaurants for the rest of 2009. After that time, they can be redeemed at branches of the Central Bank in Turkey for the next 10 years but officially become worthless as of January 1st 2020. 

Just make sure you do not accept any old pre-2005 notes as you’ll find those much harder to shift!


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Tips for handling Turkish money


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