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Bulgarian Lev

The Lev is the official currency of Bulgaria. The word “lev” can be roughly translated in to English as “lion”, from the original archaic Bulgarian. The history of the currency has closely followed the history of the nation itself, with the lev being linked to whichever European neighbour had the most influence at the time.

The lev was first created in 1881, when it was valued as equivalent to the French franc, and thereafter was periodically of linked to the value of gold (the gold standard). World War Two saw the currency and indeed the nation fall under the influence Germany, with the lev’s value being pegged to the German Reichsmark. Soviet occupation followed in 1944, and the country remained under the influence of its giant neighbour as part of the Eastern Bloc. This resulted in the Bulgarian currency being linked with the Russian rouble.

Post war history has seen the lev’s linkage to other currencies change several times, as the process of history has followed its course. The collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a considerable amount of uncertainty and fluidity in the currency’s status. It has, at various times, been pegged in value to the Russian rouble, the US dollar and the German mark. In 1999, the lev was revalued as equivalent to the German mark. More recent times have seen the mighty mark replaced by the euro. As a result, the value of the lev has subsequently been effectively pegged to the euro at the rate at which the mark was converted to the euro when the new currency was introduced at the turn of the century.

Bulgaria itself joined the European Union in 2007, and since then has been committed to joining the euro. At the time of writing, no definitive date for this had been set, so the retirement of the lev seems to be some way off. It is currently valued at around half that of the euro (€1 = 2 leva).

Bulgaria may seem like an obscure country in the far corner of south-eastern Europe, but in fact, links to this far off land are surprisingly strong. It is an increasingly popular holiday destination for Brits, with its relatively low prices encouraging tourists on a budget. Bulgaria is in fact popular all year round – the Black Sea resorts offering excellent beach holidays in the summer, while in winter, the continental climate makes snow and ski packages very attractive. In a recent poll, 6% of Brits who had taken a holiday in Europe over the last five years had been to Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has taken the headlines in recent years for the number of immigrants who have arrived in the United Kingdom since the country’s admittance to the European Union. But it is striking to note that Bulgaria is also popular as a destination for British expats. Low property prices, a low cost of living and a more reliable climate mean that it is estimated that at least 20,000 Brits have made Bulgaria their home.

With so many Brits choosing to live in Bulgaria, and many Bulgarians arriving on our shores and perhaps becoming accustomed to the traditional British game of bingo, it would not be surprising if UK registered online bingo sites saw a few payments in Bulgarian leva being made. These will be mostly accepted via credit and debit cards linked to Bulgarian bank accounts.

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