The Georgian Currency since October 2nd, 1995

The Georgian currency is called the lari. Its ISO 4217 code is “GEL“. One lari is divided in one hundred tetri. The National Bank of Georgia (NBG) publishes a few useful pages to answer your questions about the lari(1).

Georgia has a floating exchange rate regime. The official exchange rate of the lari against major currencies is published every business day on the NBG’s website no later than 17:00 and is effective on the next day(2). The lari started circulating on October 2nd, 1995 at a rate of 1.30 GEL per USD.

The following chart is provided by the NBG on its page for currency exchange rates(3). To be consistent with the data provided in tabular form, the title should read “GEL per USD”.

19951002 to 20150502 NBG USD GEL exchange rate

The lari hit a low at 2.451 GEL to the USD on February 23rd, 1999, during years of budget hardship (in 1999, the government collected only around 70 percent of the projected national budget(4)).

As of early May 2015, the lari has lost about 30% of its value against the US dollar since November 2014. The official exchange rate hovers slightly over 2.33 GEL to the USD. This depreciation is in everyone’s mind but the actual reasons behind it remain an object of debate.

Jumpstart Georgia published an easy-to-use Lari Explorer to follow the trends of the lari against major currencies since January 1st, 2001(5). The interactive tool includes a depreciation calculator, the official exchange rate of the GEL against major currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, RUB) and the buying and selling rates of 4 major commercial banks and their comparison to the official rate of the NBG (Bank of Georgia, TBC Bank, Bank Republic and Liberty Bank).

The lari hasn’t reached its brief historical low of February 1999 but if the recent trend continues, some readers might want to stock up on 500 GEL banknotes, currently sold for 303 GEL a piece on the online shop of the National Bank of Georgia. Those banknotes where issued in 1995 but never released. A bargain except that each of them comes sealed in organic glass and weighs nearly half a kilogram.(6)

 

Sources:

(1) The lari on the website of the National Bank of Georgia: https://www.nbg.gov.ge/index.php?m=111

(2) Exchange rate regime: https://www.nbg.gov.ge/index.php?m=542

(3) “Official exchange rate of LARI against foreign currencies” at https://www.nbg.gov.ge/index.php?m=582&lng=eng

(4) The Political Economy of Georgia’s Rose Revolution, by Vladimer Papava, retrieved on 2015-05-02 from http://georgica.tsu.edu.ge/files/02-Economy/Political%20Economy/Papava-2006b.pdf

(5) The Lari Explorer from Jumpstart Georgia (jumpstart.ge) at http://feradi.info/en/visualizations/lari-explorer. Interactive version: http://feradi.info/en/visualizations/lari-explorer?view=interactive

(6) Numismatic products available from the shop of the Money Museum of the national bank of Georgia: https://www.moneymuseum.nbg.gov.ge/main.php and “1995 Year 500 LARI Banknote with organic glass” at https://www.moneymuseum.nbg.gov.ge/index.php?m=268&cat_id=30&pid=162

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  1. Pingback: Last hours in Batumi: of tradition and wages in Georgia. | CospoT

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