What is the ALL (Albanian Lek)

ALL is the national currency for the Republic of Albania, the Albanian Lek. The plural of lek is lekë, with one  Albanian lek consisting of 100 qindarka and often represented by the symbol lekë. The Albanian qindarka are no longer issued but still accepted as currency. In 1992, the new lek valuta was introduced, which is equal to 50 lekë.


The Albanian Lek (ALL), currently in use in the Republic of Albania, was organized by the National Bank of Albania in 1926. The currency derives its name from Alexander the Great. The shortened form of his name is Leka in Albanian. Before 1926, Albania did not have a national currency and adhered to a gold standard. Before the First World War, the Ottoman Turkish piastre circulated in the region. After World War One, the area saw a succession of the military occupation by various countries. During this time, the use of the currency of the occupying nation happened. The gold franc or franc germinal became the most widely used monetary unit. Because Albania had no official money, people used the currencies of bordering countries pegging the rates of exchange for gold.

The Republic of Albania's holds a strategic position in the Balkan Peninsula due to its coastline on the Adriatic Sea. The area declared independence in 1912 from the Ottoman Empire and began existence as a principality. There was discord between the culturally and religiously separated groups and periods of fighting between groups was frequent.

Between 1925 and 1928, the first Albanian Republic had an authoritarian regime which hoped to restore stability to the region. The Italians forced the regime to accept Italy's control over trade and shipping which ended the short life of the first republic and changing it into a monarchy. To tighten its hold on the area, Italy moved troops into the region, occupying the territory until 1943. Albania then fell under Nazi Germany control during World War Two when fighting devastated the country and its population.

As the Axis powers waned, the Soviets moved into the region liberating the country. Albany now became a communist state the People's Republic of Albania. During Soviet rule, the area industrialized and the economy grew rapidly. At the same time, the nation was running up a debt with the Soviet Union, China, and Yugoslavia.

With the fall of communist rule in the 1980s and 1990s, Albania formed its fourth republic in 1991. Corruption saw much of the country's money invested into government supported Ponzi banking schemes. The population sold their homes and took out loans to invest in these scams which collapsed in 1996. Protests erupted across the nation and turned violent and ousted the sitting government. 

As of 2017, World Bank data shows the country has a 3.8% annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth and a yearly inflation deflator of 1.4-percent.

History of the Albania Lek

The first Lek were bronze coins introduced in denominations of 5 and ten qindar leku alongside nickel coins in 1⁄4, 1⁄2 and 1 lek, and silver 1, 2 and five franga. The franga is a now obsolete unit of currency, equal to 5 lekë. Franga coins were used from 1926 until 1939 and depicted Zog I, King of the Albanians.

During Albania's capitulation to Italy, the issue of a new series of coins under the direction of Benito Mussolini occurred. The coins have a portrait of Victor Emmanuel III, the then King of Italy, and circulated until 1941.

After the liberation of Albania from Nazi occupation in 1947, the communist party took control of the country. The new authority removed older coins from circulation, issuing new coins displaying the socialist national crest. The new zinc coins have denominations of 1⁄2, 1, 2 and five lekë. This currency was pegged to the Soviet ruble and was in use until the until the currency reform of 1965.

During Soviet occupation between 1946 and 1965, the lek was pegged to the Soviet ruble at 12.5 lekë to 1 ruble. After 1965, the revaluation of the ruble created inequalities in exchange, causing the issue of a second lek. The second lek exchanged with the first lek at a rate of 10 old lekë to one new lek. The most common banknote denominations are 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 lekë. The 2000 lekë banknote came with the third issue of ALL in 1995 and 1996.