Suitcase and World: Of new liras and kunas.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Of new liras and kunas.

Iam fascinated with currency. Over the years, I have collected bills and coins from all the countries I've ever been to. It's not just that foreign currency bills are more colorful than US "greenbacks" but because they often reflect the country's history which are very often much more tumultuous than US history. Current day Turkish currency reflects recent economic strife and Croatian currency, recent political strife.

New Turkish Liras and kuruş. The currency of Turkey is the New Turkish Lira which is subdivided into 100 new kuruş (pronounced "koo-roosh). The ISO 4217 code is for the Turkish new lira is TRY.

Because of the chronic inflation experienced in Turkey from the late 1960's through the 1990s, the "old" lira experienced severe depreciation in value. In 1966, the exchange rate between the US dollar and the "old lira"was 1 U.S. dollar = 9 lira (TL). By 2004, the exchange rate had skyrocketed to 2004 to the point that 1 USD = 1,350,000 lira (TL)!

In December 2003, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey passed a law that allowed for the removal of six zeroes from the currency and the creation of the new lira. It was introduced on January 1, 2005, replacing the previous lira (which remained valid in circulation until the end of 2005) at a rate of 1 new lira = 1,000,000 old lira.

As of the date of this blog posting, the exchange rate is 1USD = 1.18 TRY. With the declining value of the USD in foreign markets, it wouldn't surprise me if the exchange rate was 1USD = 1 TRY by the time we go on our trip :-(

Kunas and lipas. The Croatian currency is the Kuna. The word "kuna" means "marten", a weasel-like animal, whose fur Croats used for payment many centuries ago. The ISO 4217 code for the Kuna is HRK.

The Kuna is divided into 100 lipas. The word "lipa" means "linden "(or lime) tree. No one seems to know what the association is between the tree and the currency is.

Following Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991, the modern kuna was introduced in June 1994, after a transitional period during which the Yugoslav dinar was replaced with the Croatian dinar. Kunas are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 kn.

Obverse face of the 5 kuna banknote with portrait of the Croatian Duke Frano Krsto Frankopan (1643-1671) and the Croatian Ban, Petar Zrinski (1621-1671)
They were Croatian aristocrats and leaders of the movement for emancipation from Vienna. They were both executed in 1671 after their revolt against Vienna failed.

Reverse face of the 5 kuna banknote with the Varaždin Castle, 12th-16th century.

The lipa was introduced at the same time as the kuna in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 20, 20 and 50 lipa.

As of the date of this blog posting, the exchange rate is 1USD = 4.93 HRK. Although the euro is accepted currency in Croatia, it seems that many places will give you a discount if you pay your bill in kunas so I plan to bring a few with me.