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Israel Currency Spotlight: Israeli New Shekel

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

Israel, despite lacking key resources, has become one of the world’s most successful economies. With a strong emphasis on the technology sector the country is well poised to succeed economically in the 21st century. Since replacing the old shekel, the new shekel has brought stability to the country. As one of the least restricted currencies in the world, if you need to buy Israeli sheqalim, you should have few roadblocks.

Fast Facts: Israeli new shekel

  • Israeli new shekel Symbol:
  • Israel Currency Code: ILS
  • Subunit: agora
  • Coins: 10 agorot, ½, 1, 2, 5, 10 new sheqalim
  • Banknotes: 20, 50, 100, 200 new sheqalim
  • Israeli GDP (nominal): US$298.866 billion
  • Central Bank: Bank of Israel

Israeli new shekel History

The Israeli new shekel was introduced in 1986 to replace the Israeli shekel, which had itself replaced the Israeli lira. In the 1960’s and continuing through the next two decades the old Israeli currencies experienced greater and greater levels of devaluation against the US dollar. Eventually, after suffering from hyperinflation in the 1980’s, the Israeli old shekel was replaced by the Israeli new shekel as part of the 1985 Economic Stabilization Plan. The new shekel replaced the old shekel at a rate of 1 000 old to 1 new.

New shekel Notes and Coins

Coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10 agorot, ½ and 1 new shekel were introduced alongside the new shekel. 5 sheqalim (the plural of shekel) coins were introduced in 1990 while 1 agora coins were discontinued. 10 new sheqalim coins followed in 1995 and a new 2 sheqalim coin was minted in 2007. 5 agorot coins were removed from circulation in 2008. In 2011 it was announced that a new series of coins would be introduced and the word ‘new’ was to be dropped from the name of the shekel.

New banknotes were issued in the late 90’s in denominations of 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 10 000 and 20 000 sheqalim. Each note features a famous politician or leader.

Value Obverse Reverse
10 agorot Replica of a coin issued by Antigonus II Mattathias with a seven branched candelabrum, Israel’s emblem and the name Israel in Hebrew, English and Arabic Value and date
½ new shekel Lyre and the state emblem Value and date and ‘Israel’ in Hebrew Arabic and English
1 New shekel Lily, “Yehud” in ancient Hebrew and the state emblem Value, date, ‘Israel’ in English, Arabic and Hebrew
2 New sheqalim Two cornucopia, the state emblem Value, date, ‘Israel’ in English, Arabic and Hebrew
5 new sheqalim Capital of column, the state emblem Value, date, ‘Israel’ in English, Arabic and Hebrew
10 new sheqalim Palm tree, two baskets with dates, the state emblem and the words ‘ for the redemption of zion’ in ancient and modern Hebrew Value, date, ‘Israel’ in English, Arabic and Hebrew

New banknotes were introduced in 1985 in 5, 10 and 50 new sheqalim, The following year 1 new shekel notes were printed, followed by 100 new sheqalim notes, followed by 20 sheqalim notes in 1988 and 200 sheqalim notes in 1991.

Value Obverse Reverse
20 new shekels Rachel Bluwstein – a Hebrew poet.
50 new shekel Shaul Tchernichovsky – Russian born Hebrew poet- and his poem Oh, My Land, My homeland Capital of Corinthian Column and part of the poem I Believe
100 new shekels Leah Goldberg – Hebrew poet
200 new shekels Nathan Alterman – Israeli poet, journalist and influencer of Socialist Zionist policies Moonlit flora, part of the poem Morning Song

Israeli New Shekel Value

As a consequence of the hyperinflation of the 60s, 70s and 80s Israel has pursued conservative, market based economic policies aimed at keeping inflation low and ensuring the shekels stability. Since 2003 the shekel has been freely convertible – meaning there are very few restrictions on trading the currency and since 2006 the shekel became one of only 20 global currencies available on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for derivative trading.

1 USD is currently (11:45AM, Nov 13 2015) valued at 3.8869 ILS

ILS USD 5 years graph

ILS to 1 USD over the past 5 years

1 CAD is currently (11:45AM, Nov 13 2015) valued at 2.9138 ILS

ILS CAD 5 years graph

ILS to 1 CAD over the past 5 years

Israel Economy

Israel’s market economy is one of the most technologically advanced in the world with high levels of education. For the first 20 years of Israel’s existence the country regularly posted growth of 10% or higher, but following the Yom Kippur War in 1973 inflation soared and growth stalled. By the mid 1980’s inflation was projected to reach 1000%. The government implemented an economic stability plan, and the new shekel. Soon after, in the 1990’s, following the fall of the Soviet Union, millions of Jewish people from the former Soviet Union flocked to Israel. The early 2000s were a tough time politically and economically for Israel. The second intifada hit the country’s tourism industry and reduced foreign investment. Eventually investment returned and surpassed previous levels and the country managed to weather the late 2000s financial crisis.

coins israeli shekel new silver copper

Final Thoughts

Israel has one of the most technologically advanced economies in the world, with a higher percentage of scientists and engineers than anywhere else. Despite a dearth of natural resources, Israel’s economy should continue to prosper.

Whether you need to buy Israeli sheqalim or any other of over 160 different currencies, we’ve got you covered!

For a broader understanding of Israeli history and culture check out our Country of the Week profile. For information about traveling to Israel then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

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