Currency in Syria

The current currency in Syria is the Syrian pound. Its ISO code is SYP (ISO-4217), the official abbreviation is SYP. Another denomination of the Syrian pound currency is the Syrian lira. The currency symbol is £.

A pound is divided into 100 piasters, although piasters have not been in circulation since 1996 due to inflation. The Syrian pound is divided as follows:

  • coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 pounds
  • banknotes of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pounds.

History of the currency of Syria

For about 400 years during the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Lira was the main currency in Syria.

After the end of the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon was under French occupation and the Egyptian pound was used.

In 1919 the livre (also known as the pound) was introduced and was linked to the French franc at a ratio of 1:20.

After Syria came under the control of British and French troops during the war, the peg to the French franc was replaced by a peg to the British pound in 1941. A ratio of 8.83125 Syrian pounds = 1 British pound was determined.

The currency previously used in Lebanon and Syria were split up in 1948.

In the period between 1979 and 1989, the Syrian pound was subject to strong exchange rate fluctuations as the country was in a severe economic crisis. The main reasons for this lay in the decline in aid payments from both the Gulf states and the Soviet Union. Internal mismanagement also contributed to the crisis.

The Syrian civil war, which has persisted since 2011, resulted in an extreme devaluation of the Syrian pound against the US dollar. The exchange rate fell rapidly in 2012 and bottomed out in 2013.

As the black market – especially in the areas occupied by government troops – was better controlled, the currency stabilized at around 1: 150. The black market is still the only source of foreign currency that is accessible to Syrians traveling around and abroad. However, the price collapsed again in 2016 to a value of more than 1: 1500.

By the end of 2013, the Syrian central bank had raised around 600 million US dollars in cash reserves by issuing pounds for dollars.

Exchange into the currency of Syria

The Syrian pound is not convertible, which means that this currency is not exchangeable. When traveling to Syria, it is not advisable to get Syrian pounds abroad, as the exchange rate is less favorable than in Syria and the import and export of Syrian pounds is prohibited.