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The leu (plural: lei, ISO 4217 code ROL) is the national currency of Romania and has been since the founding of the National Bank of Romania in 1880. One leu is subdivided into 100 bani (singular: ban).


In the 17th century, Dutch thalers bearing a lion circulated in the Romanian states were often called lei (lions). The name was kept as a generic term for money until it became in the 19th century the national currency.


After the Crimean War, a bimetallic currency was adopted, with the lei (franc) of 100 bani (centimes) as the unit of value. But after 1878 the Russian silver Rouble was rated so highly as to drive the native coins out of circulation; and in 1889 Romania joined the Latin Monetary Union and adopted a gold standard. Besides the silver pieces worth 3/4, 1, 2 and 5 lei, gold coins of 5, 10 and 20 ley were used. Silver was legal tender only up to 50 lei. All taxes and customs dues were to be paid in gold, and, owing to the small quantities issued from the Romanian mint, foreign gold were current, especially French 20-franc pieces (equal at par to 20 lei), Turkish gold lire (22.70), Old Russian Imperials (20.60) and English Sovereignss of (25.22). Besides bronze coins of less value than 1/2 tell, nickel pieces worth 5, 10 and 20 bani were authorized by a law of 1900.

Current legal tender

As of December 2003, the following notes and coins are in circulation:

The exchange rate is (as of December 2003): 1 € = 40,000 lei; 1 US$ = 33,000 lei


A revaluation of the leu is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2005, at the rate of 1 New Leu = 10,000 lei.

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