The lek is the official currency of Albania. The official currency symbol: L. The currency’s name is derived from Alexander the Great, whose name is shortened to Leka in the Albanian language.
Two lek banknotes have been issued in Albania. The first lek was introduced in 1926. The National Bank of Albania (Banka Kombëtare e Shqipnis) issued notes in denominations of 1, 5, 20 and 100 franka ari, followed by 2, 5 and 10 lekë and 100 franga in 1944. In 1945, the People’s Bank of Albania (Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar) made overprints on 10 lek, 20 lek and 100 frangas banknotes of the National Bank. Regular notes in the values of 1, 5, 20, 100, and 500 franga were also issued in 1945. The lek was chosen as the primary currency unit in 1947, with notes printed in 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 lek denominations.
The second lek was introduced in 1965 by the Banka e Shtetit Shqiptar in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 lekë. In 1976, the second series of banknotes was issued after the country changed its name to the People’s Socialist Republic. The third series of banknotes were issued in 1997, which introduced the 2000 lekë denomination. In 2019, the Bank of Albania issued a new series which introduced the 200, 5,000 and 10,000 lekë.
The 500 Albanian lekë note front design features the portrait of Ismail Qemal Bej Vlora (1844 – 1919), who was an Albanian diplomat and a prominent leader of the Albanian national movement; he served as first Prime Minister of independent Albania and is the principal author of the Declaration of Independence; Qemal is regarded as the Founding Father of modern Albania. The portrait is presented on a background with a stylized image of the pen in which the Independence Act was signed and the croquis of the black two-headed eagle (element of the National Coat of Arms).
The reverse of the note illustrates the room where the decision to declare Albania’s independence was made, followed by the telegraph that was used to deliver the news, and a stylized image of the building where the Provisional Government of Vlora functioned, today the National Museum of Independence. The lettering of the note is presented in the Albanian language. This note is part of the 2001 – 2015 series, and its color is blue and multicolor underprint.
Text: BANKA E SHQIPERISE, 500 PESËQIND LEKË, Ismail Qemal Bej Vlora 1844 – 1919, BANK OF ALBANIA 500