Lithuanian litas

Lithuanian litas
Lietuvos litas (Lithuanian)
500 litai (2000).jpg
500 litų banknote (obverse and reverse)
ISO 4217
Plurallitai (nom. pl.) or litų (gen. pl.) or litu (nom. dl. in pre-war period)
centascentai (nom. pl.) or centų (gen. pl.) or centu (nom. dl. in pre-war period)
SymbolLt (litas), ct (centas)
 Freq. used10, 20, 50, 100, 200 litų
 Rarely used500 litų
 Freq. used1 centas, 10, 20, 50 centų, 1 litas, 2, 5 litai
 Rarely used2, 5 centai
User(s)None, previously:
Lithuania Lithuania
Central bankBank of Lithuania
 SourceEuropean Central Bank, April 2013
 Since28 June 2004
 Fixed rate since2 February 2002
 Replaced by €, cash1 January 2015
=3.45280 Lt
 Bandpegged in practice, 15% de jure
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The Lithuanian litas (ISO currency code LTL, symbolized as Lt; plural litai (nominative) or litų (genitive)) was the currency of Lithuania, until 1 January 2015, when it was replaced by the euro. It was divided into 100 centų (genitive case; singular centas, nominative plural centai). The litas was first introduced on 2 October 1922 after World War I, when Lithuania declared independence and was reintroduced on 25 June 1993, following a period of currency exchange from the ruble to the litas with the temporary talonas then in place.[1] The name was modeled after the name of the country (similar to Latvia and its lats). From 1994 to 2002, the litas was pegged to the U.S. dollar at the rate of 4 to 1. The litas was pegged to the euro at the rate of 3.4528 to 1 since 2002. The euro was expected to replace the litas by January 1, 2007, but persistent high inflation and the economic crisis delayed the switch. On 1 January 2015 the litas was switched to the euro at the rate of 3.4528 to 1.[2]

First litas, 1922–1941


The first litas was introduced on 2 October 1922, replacing the ostmark and ostruble, both of which had been issued by the occupying German forces during World War I. The ostmark was known as the auksinas in Lithuania.

The litas was established at a value of 10 litų = 1 US dollar and was subdivided into 100 centų. In the face of worldwide economic depression, the litas appeared to be quite a strong and stable currency, reflecting the negligible influence of the depression on the Lithuanian economy. One litas was covered by 0.150462 grams of gold stored by the Bank of Lithuania in foreign countries. In March 1923, the circulation amounted to 39,412,984 litas, backed by 15,738,964 in actual gold and by 24,000,000 in high exchange securities.[3] It was required that at least one third of the total circulation would be covered by gold and the rest by other assets. By 1938, 1 U.S. dollar was worth about 5.9 litai,[4] falling to about 20 U.S. cents before its disappearance in 1941.[5]


In March 1939 Nazi Germany demanded that Lithuania give up the Klaipėda Region (also known as the Memel Territory), which had been detached from Germany after World War I. The Lithuanian government complied, and on 23 March 1939 the area was annexed by Germany. On the same day the reichsmark replaced the litas as the official currency of the region, with 1 litas being exchanged for 40 pfennig. Until 20 May 1939 inhabitants of the Memelgebiet could exchange litas for reichsmarks.[6]

Soviet occupation

The litas was replaced by the Soviet ruble in April 1941 after Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union, with 1 litas equal to 0.9 ruble, although the actual value of the litas was about 3–5 rubles. Such an exchange rate provided great profits for the military and party officials. Trying to protect the value of the currency, people started to massively buy which, together with a downfall in production (following nationalization), caused material shortages. Withdrawals were then limited to 250 litų[7] before the litas was completely abolished.


Interwar 10 litas coin, depicting Vytautas the Great

Coins were introduced in 1925 in denominations of 1 centas, 2 centai, 5 centai, 10, 20, 50 centų, and 1 litas, 2 litu, 5 litai, with the litas coins in silver. 10 litų coins were introduced in 1936. All these coins were designed by the sculptor Juozas Zikaras (1881–1944). The litas coins displayed Jonas Basanavičius and Vytautas the Great, which was replaced by a portrait of President Antanas Smetona.


10 litas banknote (1922)

In 1922, the Bank of Lithuania issued notes in denominations of 1 centas, 2 centu, 5 centai, 10, 20, 50 centų, and 1 litas, 2 litu, 5 litai, 10, 50, 100 litų. In 1924, 500 and 1000 litų notes were added. Denominations below 5 litai were replaced by coins in 1925.

10.09.1922 Issue
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse
[1] 1 centas Coat of arms of Lithuania
[2] 5 centai Coat of arms of Lithuania
[3] 20 centų Coat of arms of Lithuania
[4] 50 centų Coat of arms of Lithuania
[5] 1 litas Coat of arms of Lithuania
[6] 5 litai Coat of arms of Lithuania
16.11.1922 Issue
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse
[7] 1 centas
[8] 2 centu
[9] 5 centai
[10] 10 centų
[11] 20 centų Coat of arms of Lithuania
[12] 50 centų Coat of arms of Lithuania
[13] 1 litas Coat of arms of Lithuania
[14] 2 litu Coat of arms of Lithuania
[15] 5 litai Portrait of a woman at the spinning wheel Sower
[16] 10 litų Coat of arms of Lithuania, Timber rafting Two women
[17] 50 litų Arms of Kaunas, Vilnius and Klaipėda, Grand Duke Gediminas Vilnius Cathedral and its belfry
[18] 100 litų Coat of arms of Lithuania, Vytautas the Great Two women
1924–1928 Issue
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse
[19] 10 litų Coat of arms of Lithuania Fieldwork
[20] 50 litų Dr. Jonas Basanavičius Vilnius Cathedral
[21] 100 litų Lithuanian woman in traditional dress Bank of Lithuania
[22] 500 litų Coat of arms of Lithuania
[23] 1000 litų Coat of arms of Lithuania
1929–1930 "500 Years Vytautas the Great" Commemorative Issues
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse
[24] 5 litai Coat of arms of Lithuania, Vytautas the Great Battle of Grunwald
[25] 20 litų Coat of arms of Lithuania, Vytautas the Great, Vytautas' the Great Church Statue of Liberty, Klaipėda
1938 "20 Years of Independence" Commemorative Issue
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse
[26] 10 litų Antanas Smetona 1st President of Lithuania The original 20 members of the Council of Lithuania after signing the Act of Independence of Lithuania or Act of February 16, 1918
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Litas
azərbaycanca: Litva litası
Bân-lâm-gú: Lietuva litas
беларуская: Літ
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Летувіскі літ
български: Литовски литас
bosanski: Litvanski litas
català: Litas
Чӑвашла: Литас
čeština: Litevský litas
Deutsch: Litas
eesti: Leedu litt
Ελληνικά: Λίτας
español: Litas lituana
Esperanto: Litova lido
français: Litas
hrvatski: Litavski litas
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: লিথুয়ানিয়ান লিটাস
Bahasa Indonesia: Litas
italiano: Litas lituano
עברית: ליטאס
ქართული: ლიტვური ლიტი
Кыргызча: Литовтык лит
latviešu: Lits
lietuvių: Litas
македонски: Литвански литас
Bahasa Melayu: Litas Lithuania
Nederlands: Litouwse litas
日本語: リタス
Nordfriisk: Litas
polski: Lit (waluta)
português: Litas lituano
română: Litas
саха тыла: Литва лита
Simple English: Lithuanian litas
slovenčina: Litovský litas
српски / srpski: Литвански литас
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Litvanski litas
svenska: Litas
тоҷикӣ: Литаи Литва
українська: Литовський лит
Yorùbá: Litas
žemaitėška: Lits