ILS is the international 3-letter abbreviation for the Israeli new shekel, the currency of Israel since 1986. The new shekel replaced the hyper inflated original shekel at a ratio of 1000 to 1. At the time it was identified by the abbreviation NIS to distinguish it from the old shekel. In recent years it has been valued at between 24 to 28 American cents.


The ILS is the nation of Israel’s fourth currency. The original currency after the country was founded in 1948 was the Palestinian pound, which became the Israeli pound in 1952. Both were pegged to the British pound (GBP) initially, but the Israeli pound ended its relationship to British sterling in 1954. Many Israelis pushed for a currency with a Hebrew name, but it took until 1980 for the country to drop its pound note and introduce the first shekel, now known as the old shekel. The word dates to biblical times and may once have been a measure of grain.

But from the beginning the old shekel was a weak currency, hobbled by the country’s state-based economy of the period. A full-blown financial crisis in the 1980s led to massive inflation. Eventually the government stabilized the economy and introduced free-market reforms along with the new shekel. Since then the ILS has been one of the more stable currencies in the world. It became freely convertible in 2003 and began trading derivatives in 2006 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Symbols on ILS Coins

The new shekel is made up of 100 agorot. Eight coins are minted, in denominations of one, five, 10 and 50 agorot; and one, two, five and 10 shekels. The coins have no images of people but rather feature various Israeli national symbols such as the menorah, the lily and the lyre.

Hebrew Poets Honored on Bills

The original one-shekel banknote carried an image of the medieval Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides; the ten-shekel note portrayed former prime minister Golda Meir. The current bills, introduced in 1914, are minted in four denominations, all of which portray Israeli poets on the obverse: Rachel Bluwstein on the 20-shekel note; Shaul Tchernichovsky on the 50-shekel note; Leah Goldberg on the 100-shekel note; and Nathan Alterman on the 200-shekel note. Each of the bills also includes micro printed poetry by the featured author on both sides. The current series was originally planned to include images of the deceased Israeli leaders Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin. But after Begin’s family rejected the plan, the series was changed to honor only poets.

  1. ILS (Israeli New Shekel)

    ILS is the currency abbreviation or currency symbol for the Israeli ...
  2. GBP

    GBP is the abbreviation for the British pound sterling, the official ...
  3. NZD

    In the currency market, this is the abbreviation for the New ...
  4. Cable

    Cable is a term used among forex traders referring to the exchange ...
  5. Currency

    Currency is a generally accepted form of money, including coins ...
  6. NZD (New Zealand Dollar)

    The New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is the currency abbreviation for ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Warren Buffett Pushes Investment in Israel Bonds

    Buffett, billionaire head of Berkshire Hathaway, reportedly counts $5 million worth of Israeli bonds in his personal investments.
  2. Insights

    Fast-Growing Israeli Startups Pulling Investors In

    Due to its government's policies, and an innovative defense sector that offers high-level training, Israel has become fertile ground for tech startups.
  3. Tech

    New Counterfeit-Proof £1 introduced by the British Royal Mint

    Dubbed "the most secure coin in the world", the new British £1 coin entered circulation March 28.
  4. Trading

    The Origins Of Common Currency Symbols

    Check out some of the world's most heavily traded currencies and their origins.
  5. Insights

    The 5 Countries With The Lowest Interest Rates

    Interest rates in many nations are at record low levels as of May 2015. We look at the five nations with the lowest rates.
  6. Personal Finance

    5 One-Of-A-Kind Jobs

    From dog show judge to money designer, these jobs require a great deal of expertise and offer unique employment opportunities.
  7. Tech

    The History Of Money: From Barter To Banknotes

    Money has been a part of human history for at least 3,000 years. Learn how it evolved.
  8. Insights

    How Currency Works

    Currency offers key advantages over economies based on direct trade, including a broader market for sellers' goods and services and transport ease.
  9. Insights

    Giant Gold Coin Stolen From German Museum

    The 221-pound coin would be worth close to $4.5 million at current gold prices.
  10. Trading

    History Of Coinage In The U.S.

    From the barter system to commemorative coins, we look at the history of U.S. money.
  1. What is foreign exchange?

    Foreign exchange is the conversion of a country's currency into another. In a free economy, a country's currency is valued ... Read Answer >>
  2. Is there a world currency? If so, what is it?

    There is no such thing as a world currency. However, since World War II, the dominant or reserve currency of the world has ... Read Answer >>
  3. Why the British Pound Is Stronger Than the U.S. Dollar

    Learn why the British pound is stronger than the U.S. dollar, despite the U.S. economy being larger than that of Britain ... Read Answer >>
  4. How do national interest rates affect a currency's value and exchange rate?

    Generally, higher interest rates increase the value of a country's currency and lower interest rates tend to be unattractive ... Read Answer >>
  5. How are international exchange rates set?

    Knowing the value of your home currency in relation to different foreign currencies helps investors to analyze investments ... Read Answer >>
  6. Who decides when to print money in the U.S.?

    Learn the U.S. Treasury's Federal Reserve Bank's roles in the process of printing money in the United States. Read Answer >>
Trading Center