Turkish lira

The Turkish lira (Turkish: Türk lirası; sign: ; code: TRY; numeric code: 949;[5] usually abbreviated as TL)[6] is the official currency of Turkey and Northern Cyprus. One Turkish lira is subdivided into one hundred kuruş.

Turkish lira
Türk lirası (Turkish)
200 Türk Lirası front.jpg
₺200 banknote (obverse)
ISO 4217
SymbolLira: ,[1] TL
Kuruş: kr
Banknotes₺5, ₺10, ₺20, ₺50, ₺100, ₺200
 Freq. used25kr, 50kr, ₺1
 Rarely used1kr, 5kr, 10kr
Official user(s) Turkey
 Northern Cyprus
Unofficial user(s)Syrian opposition Syrian Interim Government[2]
Syrian Salvation Government[3]
Central bankCentral Bank of the Republic of Turkey
PrinterCBRT Banknote Printer
MintTurkish State Mint
Inflation69.97% (April 2022)[4]
 SourceCentral Bank of the Republic of Turkey
^a The plural is rarely used (mostly as an indefinite noun) and it is never used when referring to amounts, e.g. üç lira (three liras), bin lira (one thousand liras).


Ottoman lira (1844–1923)Edit

The lira, along with the related currencies of Europe and the Middle East, has its roots in the ancient Roman unit of weight known as the libra which referred to the Troy pound of silver. The Roman libra adoption of the currency spread it throughout Europe and the Near East, where it continued to be used into medieval times. The Turkish lira, the French livre (until 1794), the Italian lira (until 2002), Syrian Pound, Lebanese Pound and the pound unit of account in sterling (a translation of the Latin libra; the word "pound" as a unit of weight is still abbreviated as "lb.") are the modern descendants of the ancient currency.

The Ottoman lira was introduced as the main unit of currency in 1844, with the former currency, kuruş, remaining as a 1100 subdivision. The Ottoman lira remained in circulation until the end of 1927.[7]

First Turkish lira (1923–2005)Edit

Both Livre Turque (in French) and تورك لیراسی (in Ottoman Turkish) phrases used on first-issue banknotes.

Historical banknotes from the second, third and fourth issues have portraits of İsmet İnönü on the obverse side. This change was done according to the 12 January 1926 issue of the official gazette[8][9] and canceled by the Democrat Party after World War II.

After periods of the lira pegged to sterling and the franc, a peg of TL 2.8 = US$1 was adopted in 1946 and maintained until 1960, when the currency was devalued to TL 9 = US$1. From 1970, a series of hard, then soft pegs to the dollar operated as the value of the Turkish lira began to fall.

The following are based on yearly averages:

  • 1960s – US$ 1 = TL 9
  • 1970 – US$ 1 = TL 11.30
  • 1975 – US$ 1 = TL 14.40
  • 1980 – US$ 1 = TL 80
  • 1985 – US$ 1 = TL 500
  • 1990 – US$ 1 = TL 2,500
  • 1995 – US$ 1 = TL 43,000
  • 2000 – US$ 1 = TL 620,000
  • 2001 - US$ 1 = TL 1,250,000
  • 2005 – US$ 1 = TL 1,350,000[10][11]

The Guinness Book of Records ranked the Turkish lira as the world's least valuable currency in 1995 and 1996, and again from 1999 to 2004. The lira's value had fallen so far that one original gold lira coin could be sold for TL 154,400,000 before the 2005 revaluation.

Second Turkish lira (2005–present)Edit

Exchange rate to USD[12][13]
Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
USD/TRY 1.344 1.428 1.303 1.302 1.550 1.503 1.675 1.796 1.904 2.189 2.720 3.020 3.648 4.824 5.682 7.023 13.496
The Turkish lira has a history of accelerating loss of value relative to the euro, breaching the mark of five lira per euro in early 2018

In December 2003, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey passed a law that allowed for redenomination by the removal of six zeros from the Turkish lira, and the creation of a new currency. It was introduced on 1 January 2005, replacing the previous Turkish lira (which remained valid in circulation until the end of 2005) at a rate of ₺1 new lira (ISO 4217 code "TRY") = TL 1,000,000 old lira (ISO 4217 code "TRL"). With the revaluation of the Turkish lira, the Romanian leu (also revalued in July 2005) briefly became the world's least valued currency unit. At the same time, the Government introduced two new banknotes with the denominations of ₺50 and ₺100.

In the transition period between January 2005 and December 2008, the second Turkish lira was officially called Yeni Türk lirası ("New Turkish lira").[14] The letter "Y" in the currency code was taken from the Turkish word yeni, meaning new. It was officially abbreviated "YTL" and subdivided into 100 new kuruş (yeni kuruş). Starting in January 2009, the "new" marking was removed from the second Turkish lira, its official name becoming just "Turkish lira" again, abbreviated "TL". All obverse sides of current banknotes have portraits of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Until 2016, the same held for the reverse sides of all current coins, but in 2016 one-lira coins were issued to commemorate the "martyrs and veterans" of the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, the reverse sides of some of which depict hands holding up a Turkish flag while others show in stylized form a collection of five-pointed stars topped by a Turkish flag.[15]

2018-present currency crisisEdit

In 2018, the lira's exchange rate accelerated deterioration, reaching a level of TL 4.5/US$ by mid-May and of TL 4.9 a week later. Among economists, the accelerating loss of value was generally attributed to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan preventing the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey from making the necessary interest rate adjustments.[16][17] Erdoğan, who claimed interest rates beyond his control to be "the mother and father of all evil", said that "the central bank can't take this independence and set aside the signals given by the president."[16] Despite Erdogan's apparent opposition, Turkey's Central Bank raised interest rates sharply.[18]

As of 2020, the Turkish lira continued to plummet in value, with the currency going through a process of depreciation, consistently reaching all time lows. The Turkish lira deflated by over 400% compared to the US dollar and the euro since 2008, largely due to Erdogan's expansionist foreign policy.[19][20][21][22][23][24] Erdoğan has tried to fix the current financial crisis with unorthodox methods of banking.[25][26][27]

The Turkish lira recovered partially throughout early 2021 with the government's rise of interest rates, until the currency began crashing though rapid stages of inflation and depreciation on 21 March 2021, after the sacking of Central Bank chief Naci Ağbal. The Turkish lira on 4 June reached an all time low of TL 8.8 to the USD at that time, going through the worst rates in the currencies history.[28][29][30][31] The Turkish lira being one of the quickest collapsing currencies in 2021.[32][33][34][35] The Turkish lira during September 2021 reached a new low of TL 8.9 to USD.[36][37][38][39] In late 2021 the Turkish lira began collapsing rapidly, with the exchange rate falling 9% against the USD, reaching an all time low of TL 12.5 to the US dollar.[40][41][42][43][44][45] The Turkish lira continued to collapse in December, with the inflation rate reaching unseen levels, the Turkish lira collapsing to TL 14.5 to the US Dollar, losing nearly all of its original value.[46][47][48][49][50] On December 17, the lira fell by 8.5%, raising the exchange rate to TL 16.5 to the US dollar. Despite the currency collapse, Erdogan lowered the interest rates down to 14% from 15%, with the lira losing half of its value since the start of 2021.[51][52][53][54][55]

Politics and perceptions

In the campaign for the 2018 general election in Turkey, a widespread conspiracy theory claimed that the Turkish lira's decline was the work of a shadowy group, made up of Americans, English, Dutch and "some Jewish families" who would want to deprive incumbent President Erdogan of support in the elections.[56] According to a poll from April 2018, 42 percent of Turks and 59 percent of governing AK Party voters saw the decline in the lira as a plot by foreign powers.[57]Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu claimed Trump's wish to let the current US-Turkish tensions to drag on to the November 2018 US elections so to appeal to his Christian base and gain some points for his party.[58]

The late 2021 collapse of the Turkish lira has cost Erdogan greatly as his opinion polls are tanking, the Turkish lira currency collapsing faster than it ever had in its history. Erdogan recently sacked another finance minister and replaced him with a hard-line Erdoganist and opponent of interest rates.[59][60][61] In a statement on 10 December 2021, the Central Bank said it had sold foreign exchange for a third time during December 2021, helping to arrest the lira’s slide closer to the 14-per-dollar mark.[62] The lose of value towards the Turkish lira has had a large effect on the prices of goods in Turkey, with the price of bread raising 40% since December 2021 according to the BBC.[63] The collapse has also drastically increased the cost of imports.[64][65]


From 1 January 2009, the phrase "new" was removed from the second Turkish lira, its official name in Turkey becoming "Turkish lira" again;[66] new coins without the word "yeni" were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 kuruş and 1 Turkish lira. Also, the center and ring alloys of the 50 kuruş and 1 Turkish lira coins were reversed.

Current Turkish lira coins [1]
Image Value
Technical parameters Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Diameter
Composition Edge Obverse Reverse first minting issue
    1kr 16.5 1.35 2.2 70% Cu, 30% Zn Plain Value, Crescent-star, year of minting Snowdrop "TÜRKİYE CUMHURİYETİ",
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
2008 1 January 2009
    5kr 17.5 1.65 2.9 65% Cu, 18% Ni, 17% Zn Tree of life
    10kr 18.5 3.15 Rumi motif
    25kr 20.5 4 Reeded Kufic calligraphic
    50kr 23.85 1.9 6.8 Ring: 65% Cu, 18% Ni, 17% Zn
Center: 79% Cu, 17% Zn, 4% Ni
Large reeded Bosphorus Bridge and Istanbul silhouette
    ₺1 26.15 8.2 Ring: 79% Cu, 17% Zn, 4% Ni
Center: 65% Cu, 18% Ni, 17% Zn
inscribed, T.C. letters and tulip figure Rumi motif
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.


A new series of banknotes, the "E-9 Emission Group" entered circulation on 1 January 2009, with the E-8 group ceasing to be valid after 31 December 2009 (although still redeemable at branches of the Central Bank until 31 December 2019). The E-9 banknotes refer to the currency as "Turkish lira" rather than "new Turkish lira" and include a new 200-Turkish-lira denomination.[67] The new banknotes have different sizes to prevent forgery.[68] The main specificity of this new series is that each denomination depicts a famous Turkish personality, rather than geographical sites and architectural features of Turkey.[69] The dominant color of the 5-Turkish-lira banknote has been determined as "purple" on the second series of the current banknotes.[70]

Current Turkish lira banknotes 9. Emission Group
Image Value
Main Colour Description Date of issue
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse Watermark
    ₺5 130 × 64 Brown Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Aydın Sayılı:
solar system, atom, left-handed Z-DNA helix.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, value 1 January 2009
    Purple 8 April 2013
    ₺10 136 × 64 Red Cahit Arf:
Arf invariant, arithmetic series, abacus, binary sequence
1 January 2009
    ₺20 142 × 68 Green Architect Kemaleddin:
Gazi University main building, aqueduct, circular motif and cube-globe-cylinder symbolizing architecture
    ₺50 148 × 68 Orange Fatma Aliye Topuz:
flower and literary figures
    ₺100 154 × 72 Blue Buhurizade Itri:
musical notes, instruments and Mevlevi figure
    ₺200 160 × 72 Violet Yunus Emre:
Yunus's mausoleum, rose, pigeon and the line "Sevelim, sevilelim" (Let us love, let us be loved)
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixel per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

Currency signEdit

Turkish lira sign
Design limits[71]

The lira was originally symbolised as TL, inverting the characters of the Ottoman lira's sign, L.T., which stood for "Livre Turque" in French. Historically some English language sources used the "£" sign for the currency, but this was apparently never used in Turkey.

The current currency sign of Turkish lira was created by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey in 2012. The new sign was selected after a country-wide contest.[72] The new symbol, created by Tülay Lale, is composed of the letter 'L' shaped like a half anchor, and embedded double-striped letter 'T' angled at 20 degrees.

The design created by Tülay Lale was endorsed after a country-wide competition. It was chosen as the winner from a shortlist of seven submissions to the board of the Central Bank, selected from a total of 8,362 entries. The symbol resembles the first letter of the Turkish monetary unit L in the form of a half anchor with double stroke.[73][74][75][76][77]

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the new symbol on 1 March 2012.[78] At its unveiling, Erdoğan explained the design as "the anchor shape hopes to convey that the currency is a 'safe harbour' while the upward-facing lines represent its rising prestige".[79]

Faik Öztrak, vice chairman of the main opposition party CHP, alleged that the new sign resembles the initials 'TE' of then-prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan in a reference to the tughra of Ottoman sultans.[80] The new Turkish lira sign was also criticized for allegedly showing a similarity with an upside-down Armenian dram sign.[77][81]

In May 2012, the Unicode Technical Committee accepted the encoding of a new character U+20BA TURKISH LIRA SIGN for the currency sign,[82] which was included in Unicode 6.2 released in September 2012.[83] On Microsoft Windows operating systems, when using Turkish-Q or Turkish-F keyboard layouts, it can be typed with the combination AltGr+T.

See alsoEdit

Current TRY exchange rates


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit