The lev is the official currency of Bulgaria. As a decimalized currency, it has a subdivision of hundredths in subunits called stotinki. The word lev comes from the Old Bulgarian word for lion. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and is set to meet all the requirements of adopting the Euro in replacement of the lev sometime in 2013 or 2014. The currency system in Bulgaria has long been established, with the Bulgarian National Bank having first originated in 1879.
After the establishment of the Bulgarian National Bank, the first lev was introduced in 1881. The initial value of the lev was set on par with the French franc, and both currencies were put on the gold standard. However, the gold standard was temporarily suspended in Bulgaria from 1899 to 1905 and again from 1912 to 1916. Until its dissolution in 1927, all Bulgarian coins met the regulations set forth by the Latin Monetary Union. In 1928, the lev was revalued against gold at the rate of 1 lev: 10.86959 mg gold. This remained until World War II, when the lev was pegged to the German reichsmark until Soviet occupation in 1944, at which time the lev was pegged to the Soviet ruble. In 1945, the ruble peg was abandoned for a series of pegs to the U.S. dollar.
Inflation after World War caused a great devaluation of the lev in Bulgaria. This led to the introduction of a new lev, now called the second lev, at a rate of 100 old levs: 1 new lev. Prices for consumer products, however, only went down by 25 percent. Ten years later, after the failure of the second lev, a third lev was introduced at rate of 10 second levs: 1 third lev. The third lev was issued an ISO 4217 code of BGL, and it remained stable for over 30 years. After the fall of communism, in the 1990s, the third lev experienced severe devaluation and a fourth lev was introduced in 1999 pegged to the German mark. The ISO 4217 code was subsequently changed to BGN. All Bulgarian currency is currently backed foreign exchange reserves to ensure stability.
While the Bulgarian National Bank issues currency, coins are minted by the Bulgarian mint and banknotes are printed by the BNB Printing Works, a division of the National Bank.