Name of currency: Pound Sterling
Country / countries used: United Kingdom
The Pound Sterling, typically referred to as the Pound is the official currency of the United Kingdom; the Crown Dependencies including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan de Cunha. However, there are a number of nations that do not use sterling but do have currencies which are referred to as the “pound”. The Channel Islands as well as the Isle of Man produce their own local issues of the currency. The pound sterling is also used alongside other currencies in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Saint Helens and Ascension. Within the UK, some banks operating in Scotland as well as Northern Ireland produce private sterling denominated bank notes.
The pound itself is sub-divided into 100 pence; the singular is referred to as a penny. Frequently used coins include 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. The £5 coin is rarely used. Frequently used banknotes include the £5, £10, £20 and £50, whereas rarely used banknotes are the £1 and £100. The sterling is the fourth most traded currency on the foreign exchange market, behind the US dollar, the Euro and the Japanese Yen. It is also the third most held reserve currency in the global reserves.
In Anglo-Saxon England (between 550 and 1066) the pound was a unit of account, which was equal to 240 silver pennies and the equivalent to one pound weight of silver. The origins of the sterling lie in the reign of King Offa of Mercia (757 – 796) who introduced the silver penny. This then evolved into the modern British currency known today as the pound sterling. During the medieval era the material used in the coinage changed, in 1158 King Henry II introduced the Tealby penny which was struck from .925 silver. Through the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, the silver coinage was dramatically debased and in 1663 a new gold coinage was introduced based on the 22 carat fine guinea. The Bank of England was formed in 1694, followed by the bank of Scotland a year later, both began to issue paper money.
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