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LKR - Sri Lankan Rupee



The history of currency in Sri Lanka formerly called Ceylon dates back to 1st century BC when silver coin punch marked from India use to circulate in the country. Also, copper coins were minted locally during this time. With time, coinage from other countries especially Roman coins started getting imported on the island and were used as a medium of exchange along with other coins. In the beginning of the 11th century, gold also started to get used as a material to mint coins and the designs of these gold coins were taken from the South Indian coinage. The currency in Ceylon continued to circulate in the form these copper, silver and gold coins until in the 15th century when due to the European initiation of voyages to discover new lands, Portuguese landed in Ceylon for the first time.

The European natives got the permission to construct their fort in Sri Lanka and in few years’ time, they took control over the island. The Portuguese used their own coins instead of the local coins and from 1640; they started minting “real” coins in Colombo. This scenario continued for 9 years and after that, Goa in India was made the minting center of Portuguese coins to be used in Sri Lanka. Indian coins were also used as a medium of exchange in Ceylon during this time. In the year 1658, the Dutch displaced the Portuguese from Sri Lanka and the island came under the control of Dutch East India Company. The company marked the already existing coins under its name and imported coins from Indonesia and Netherlands. In 1660, Dutch East India Company began minting copper coins and in 1784, silver rupees. The official unit of account was changed to Dutch rixdoller that circulated in Sri Lanka along with Indian rupee. The island came under British control in 1828 who changed the official unit of currency to British pound.

Rupee as the national currency unit of Ceylon was introduced 1870 at par with the Indian rupee and replaced the British currency unit @ 1 Sri Lankan rupee = 2 shillings and 3 pence. The currency was a decimalized one and “cent” served as the subdivision breaking it into 100 equal cents. From the year 1885, rupee banknotes started getting printed by the currency board of the Government of Ceylon. The Ceylonese rupee was linked to the Indian rupee all that time and it got separated in 1941, although its value was still equal to the Indian rupee. The island gained its independence in 1948 and a couple of years later in 1950, the currency board that issued the currency was replaced by the Central Bank of Ceylon. The country got its renaming done in 1972 and was called Sri Lanka and thus the national currency that was Ceylon rupee was also renamed as Sri Lankan rupee.

Rupee is the ancient Asian currency unit of exchange that still provides with official currencies of seven Asian nations namely India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives, and two African countries that are Mauritius and Seychelles. The rupee currency in Sri Lanka is known as Sri Lankan rupee and is counted among the only three rupee currencies that use “cent” as their subunit.

Currency Profile

The Sri Lanka Rupee is the unit of currency used in Sri Lanka, symbolized by Rs., or SLRs to distinguish it from other Rupees. In addition to the common symbols also depicted as “Rp” or “SLRp” for disambiguation. Sri Lankan rupee has been in existence since 1870 but was recognized as an independent currency in 1941. According to the ISO 4217 regulation, the currency code for Sri Lankan rupee is LKR and the currency code is 144.

The Sri Lanka GDP experienced growth of 8.2% in 2010 and is estimated to grow by 9.5% in 2011, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Sri Lanka is next only to the Maldives in the South Asia region in terms of income per capita. Colombo Stock Exchange was the best performing stock market in Asia in 2009 and 2010, nearly three times its value during that time.

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