Pound sterling (or the pound) is the official currency of the United Kingdom and its territories. The pound is symbolised by £, and has a currency code of GBP. One of the most traded currencies in the foreign exchange market, behind the US dollar, the euro and the yen, the pound is the oldest currency still in use around the world.1)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/7090665.stm Retrieved 7 January 2015. The pound is also the third most-held reserve currency in the world. The pound is subdivided into 100 pence (p), and is controlled by the Bank of England. Quid is a common nickname for the pound.


The History of Pound Sterling

The pound has been in use since Anglo-Saxon England, where one pound of silver equaled 240 silver pence (or pennies). In Medieval England, silver pence were struck with the purest silver available. Not until the reign of King Henry II was sterling silver used, an alloy of 92.5% silver and then other metals, such as copper, to increase durability.

In the late 1600s, gold coins were introduced. Many other countries only accepted silver for payment in trade, leading to a silver shortage. When the Bank of England was founded in 1694, paper money was issued into the United Kingdom. A gold standard was adopted officially in 1816, backing the legal tender.

In 1940, the UK government pegged the pound to the US dollar at £1 for $4.03, which saw further devaluation after WWII and the Bretton Woods system.

To account for the widespread use of computerised banking, Decimal Day, 15 February 1971, saw the end of the old pound system of 240 pence in a pound, 12 pence in a shilling, 20 shillings in a pound. The pound appreciated until the global financial crisis in 2008; after which, the Bank of England use quantitative easing for the first time in its history, injecting £75 billion into the British economy.2)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7927100.stm Retrieved 9 January 2015.

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Banknotes and Coins

For 300 years, the Bank of England has been issuing banknotes.3)http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/default.aspx Retrieved 9 January 2015. Notes are denominated in £5, £10, £20 and £50, and, as of 2015, there are some 3 billion pound banknotes worth £60 billion in circulation.4)http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/about/stats.aspx Retrieved 9 January 2015. Many security features adorn the banknotes, including microprinting, holograms, raised lettering and more.

The Royal Mint estimates there are nearly 30 billion pound coins in circulation.5)http://www.royalmint.com/discover/uk-coins/circulation-coin-mintage-figure Retrieved 9 January 2015. Current coins are imprinted with a Latin inscription meaning, “Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith,” and feature a profile of the current monarch.

official Users

  • United Kingdom
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey


  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tanzania
  • Rwanda
  • Malawi
  • Botswana
  • Mirpur, Azed Kasmir, Pakistan

Pound Sterling Pegging

  • Falkland Islands pound
  • Gibraltar pound
  • Saint Helena pound
  • Jersey pound
  • Guernsey pound
  • Manx pound
  • Scottish Pound
  • Northern Ireland notes

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Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices, other information, or links to third-party sites are provided as general market commentary and do not constitute investment advice. FXCM will not accept liability for any loss or damage including, without limitation, to any loss of profit which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.

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