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Italian East African lira

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Title: Italian East African lira  
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Subject: Italian Empire, Italian Somaliland lira, Eritrean tallero, Italian colonial empire, Italian 1st Eritrean Division
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Italian East African lira

The lira AOI was a special banknote circulating in Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI) between 1938 [1] and 1941.

When Fascist Italy imposed the Italian lira in Ethiopia in 1936, it declared by law a rate of 3 lire = 1 thaler: it was no more than an after-war clausola that a winning nation had imposed to a defeated country, considering that the thaler was a silver coin with a natural value 28 times higher than the lira. If Ethiopians were obliged to change their copper money and banknotes for their every-day life, they began to hide their silver coins considering that they could save their value simply funding the metal. The Italian government declared illegal this usage, but in 1938 it offered new special banknotes issued "lira AOI" at a better rate of 4.5 lire = 1 thaler for citizens who would accept to give their silver coins to the Bank of Italy. Very few people accepted, and in 1939 it was offered a second possibility at a rate 5 lire = 1 thaler. In Italian Somaliland, the lira was already circulating. In Ethiopia, the lira replaced the Ethiopian thaler (issued by the Bank of Ethiopia) whilst in Eritrea it replaced the Eritrean tallero, a silver coin minted in Italy. It also briefly replaced the East African shilling in British Somaliland under Italia occupation between 1940 and 1941, when the lira AOI was offered at a rate 13 lire = 1 thaler.

The lira AOI was seen as a bribery, and it was immediately replaced by the East African shilling in 1941, when the United Kingdom gained control of Italy's colonies, at the rate of 1 shilling = 24 lire. The banknotes retired by the British government were later used by the British Army when it occupied Italy between 1943 and 1945, producing with the AM-lira a high inflation in the country.


In 1938, banknotes were issued for use in Italian East Africa in denominations of 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lire.[2] The designs were the same as those used on Italian notes but the colours of the notes were different and they bore an overprint with the words "Serie Speciale Africa Orientale Italiana". A relic of the lira was the use even in the 1960s of the expression "Lix Lira" (=six lira) for 25 cents.


  1. ^ Bank of Italy
  2. ^ The Banknotes of Somalia by Peter Symes
  • Pick, Albert (1994).  
  • Mauri, Arnaldo (1967). Il mercato del credito in Etiopia, Giuffrè, Milano 1967. [in Italian]
  • Tuccimei, Ercole (1999). La Banca d'Italia in Africa, Presentazione di Arnaldo Mauri, Laterza, Bari, ISBN 88-420-5686-3 [in Italian]

External links

Preceded by:
Eritrean thaler
Location: Italian Eritrea
Ratio: 1:5
Currency of Italian East Africa
together with the Italian lira

(Italian Somaliland, Eritrea, Ethiopia)
1938 – 1941
Succeeded by:
East African shilling
Reason: captured by United Kingdom
Ratio: 1 shilling = 24 lira
Preceded by:
Maria Theresa thaler
Location: Ethiopia
Ratio: 1:5
Preceded by:
East African shilling
Reason: captured by Italy
Currency of British Somaliland
together with the Italian lira

1940 – 1941
Preceded by:
Italian lira
Reason: British occupation
Currency of Italy
together with the Italian lira

1943 – 1945
Succeeded by:
Italian lira
Ratio: at par
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