The Egyptian pound (Arabic: جنيه مصري Genēh Maṣri Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ɡeˈneː(h) ˈmɑsˤɾi] or in Alexandrian accent: Geni Maṣri [ˈɡeni ˈmɑsˤɾi]) (sign: E£ or ج.م; customary abbreviation LE; code: EGP) is the currency of Egypt. It is divided into 100 piastres, or ersh (قرش [ʔeɾʃ]; plural قروش [ʔʊˈɾuːʃ]; Turkish: Kuruş), or 1,000 millimes (Arabic: مليم [mælˈliːm]; French: Millime).
The ISO 4217 code is EGP. Locally, the abbreviation LE or L.E., which stands for livre égyptienne (French for Egyptian pound) is frequently used. E£ and £E are commonly used online. The name Genēh / Geni [ɡeˈneː(h), ˈɡeni] is derived from the Guinea coin, which had almost the same value of 100 piastres at the end of the 19th century.
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 geneih, was introduced, replacing the Egyptian piastre (ersh) as the chief unit of currency. The piastre continued to circulate as 1⁄100 of a pound, with the piastre subdivided into 40 para. In 1885, the para ceased to be issued, and the piastre was divided into tenths (عشر القرش 'oshr el-ersh). 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 E£1 = 7.4375 grams pure gold. At the outbreak of World War I, the Egyptian pound was pegged to the British pound sterling at EG£0.975 per GB£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 EG£1 = US$2.3. 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 Egyptian pound was also used in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan between 1899 and 1956, and Cyrenaica when it was under British occupation and later an independent emirate between 1942 and 1951.
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.
For a wider history surrounding currency in the region, see British currency in the Middle East.
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