Press Release of July 16, 1998



On July 16, 1998 the Bank of Latvia made a decision to issue a 500 lats banknote as of July 20, thereby establishing the note as legal tender on that date. This decision completes the successful monetary reform launched in Latvia in 1992 with the introduction of the Latvian rouble, and extended with the gradual return of the lats banknotes and coins in circulation since March, 1993. The 500 lats banknote enters circulation at a time when Latvia enjoys an inflation rate which is the lowest in the Baltic, and among the lowest in Central Europe, when the exchange rate for its currency has remained stable over the past four years, and the stabilising policies of the Bank of Latvia are beginning to produce real economic results, including increased economic activity in the population. The lats proves to be both a reliable and a beautiful currency: polls conducted by Baltijas Datu Nams indicate that 95 per cent of Latvia’s population favors its design.

Latvian lats banknotes, in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 100 and 500, were printed in 1992 and on May 5, 1993 the 5 lats banknote marked the return of the lats to circulation. Larger denominations followed, including the 50 and 100 lats notes on May 2, 1994. In accordance with its original thematic design, each banknote has a specific place in the series, which symbolizes the historical path of the Latvian nation down through the centuries. The series concludes with the profile of a Latvian maiden on the obverse of the 500 lats coin, representing Latvian identity and national independence.