The Bulgarian lev, code BGN, is the official currency of Bulgaria, an eastern european country of 7.3 million people. The lev is subdivided into 100 stotinki, and the plural of the currency is expressed “leva.” The name for the lev currency comes from the translation of “lev”, meaning “lion” in Bulgarian. The central bank of Bulgaria is the Bulgarian National Bank in Sofia.
The lev was first introduced in what is now the country of Bulgaria in 1881 as equal to the French franc. In 1928 the lev was valued under a new gold standard at 1 lev equal to 10.86956 mg gold. During the Second World War, the lev was initially pegged to the German Reichsmark at a rate of 32.75 leva equal to 1 Reichsmark, and then pegged to the Soviet ruble at 15 leva equal to 1 ruble during the Soviet occupation starting in 1944. Starting in 1945, the lev was pegged and re-pegged to the U.S. dollar three times over the next two years. No lev coins were minted between the years of 1943 to 1952.
Since 1881, there have been four issues of lev currency: in 1881, 1952, 1962, and 1999. In 1952, the new lev replaced the old lev at a rate of 1 new to 100 old, and was pegged to the U.S. dollar at this time. By 1957, the lev had fallen to nearly 10 leva to every U.S. dollar. The third issue of lev replaced the second at a rate of 10 old lev equal to 1 new lev. In the early nineties, the fall of the Soviet Union brought rampant loss of value and uncontrolled inflation to the former Soviet republics. The fourth lev of 1999 saw another revaluing of the levat 100 old lev to one new lev, with each lev equal to 1 Deutsche mark. When Germany adopted the euro, the lev became pegged to the euro at 1.95 leva equal to 1 euro.
Bulgaria began the European Union accession process in 2005, but it is estimated that Bulgaria will not officially join the EU until the year 2015. Bulgaria will more than likely adopt the euro immediately after acceptance into the EU.
Name: Bulgarian lev
Decimal Unit: 1/100th stotinki
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 stotinki; 1 lev
Notes: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 leva
Central Bank: Bulgarian National Bank
The Bulgarian lev currently circulates 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 stotinki and 1 lev coins, as well as 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 leva notes. All Bulgarian lev coins depict St. George or St. Ivan Rilski on the obverse side. All lev notes are a different color for each denomination of bill, and show the busts of several different important Bulgarian figures.