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New Israeli sheqel
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New Israeli sheqel

The New Israeli sheqel (abbr. NIS; also spelled Shekel; pl. sheqalim or shekalim) is the currency of Israel. The ISO 4217 code for the NIS is ILS.

The NIS is divided into 100 agorot (sing. agora).

In Hebrew, the NIS is called "שקל חדש" (Sheqel Khadash), and is usually abbreviated ש"ח (pronounced shakh).Its meaning is "WEIGHT" [value according to weight]. The symbol for the NIS is ₪.

Along with being a unit of currency, in ancient times, a shekel was a unit of weight. It corresponds to a little bit less than half an ounce (American) or between 11 and 12 grams.

The NIS was introduced in 1985. It replaced the "old" Sheqel, at a rate of one New Sheqel per 1000 "old" Sheqel. The "old" Sheqel replaced the Israeli Pound (Lira) in 1980, at a rate of one Sheqel per 10 Pounds.

Banknotes exist of 20, 50, 100, and 200 NIS.

Coins exist of 5, 10, and 50 agorot, and 1, 5, and 10 NIS.

At March 2004, the NIS exchange rate stood at about 4.50 NIS per one US Dollar. As of January 1, 2003, the NIS is a freely convertible currency.

The NIS is issued by the Bank of Israel

History: An old Persian word for the shekel was a pathuka--a 'ram'" (Dandamaev and Lukonin) It also meant five fingers [or possibly worth a handful of salt]

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