The official currency of Romania is the leu, the plural form of which is lei. The leu is subdivided into 100 bani. The currency’s name is also the Romanian word for lion. The leu has been the currency of Romania since 1867, but the current version was introduced in 2005. Moldova, once a province of Romania, retained the name for their currency after becoming independent in 1993, but the Moldovan leu is separate from the Romanian leu.
The Romanian leu is issued by the National Bank of Romania, the nation’s central bank. It is circulated through a series of coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50 bani and through banknotes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 lei. Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007, and the country is slated to adopt the euro as its currency in 2015.
The first Romanian leu was a bimetallic silver and gold coin issued in 1867 with other leu-denominated coins and banknotes following in 1877. In 1947, the leu was revalued by the new communist government at a rate of 1 new, or second, leu: 20,000 old lei. Only a fixed amount of old lei could be exchanged, stripping the middle and upper classes of their savings. A third leu was introduced in 1952 with varying rates of exchange based on the form of money being exchanged, such as hard currency, bank savings and debts. After communism ended, the leu devalued severely and at the time when the fourth, and current, leu was introduced, it was the least-valued currency in the world.
Romania has an upper-middle income economy that has emerged after 10 years of instability following the democratic revolution in 1989. As of 2000, the economy has been mostly stable, and it grew at annual rates between 6.1 percent and 8 percent until 2009. In 2009 and 2010, GDP fell before recovering again in 2011. The inflation rate of Romania is low compared to other countries of the European Union. In 2010, inflation was at 6.1 percent.
The services sector is the most prominent of the Romanian economy, contributing to over 51 percent of the GDP. The next highest contributing sector is industry, at 36 percent, followed by agriculture, at nearly 13 percent. Romania is one of the largest destinations of foreign investment in Central Europe, and the country has become known for being business friendly.