What is the Great British Pound (GBP)? Basic information about the Great British Pound currency


The pound sterling, or GBP, is the official currency of the United Kingdom. The pound is also used in Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Territory, and Tristan da Cunha. The GBP is subdivided into 100 pence. The symbol for the British pound is £. The pound sterling is the oldest currency in continuous use and is the fourth most traded currency in the foreign exchange market, after the US dollar, euro and Japanese yen.


  • A highly developed social market, the economy of the United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The main industries range from construction and manufacturing to financial and business services as well as tourism.
  • The United Kingdom is the sixth-largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) measured at $2.83 trillion in 2019.
  • The United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union (EU) in June 2016. This was known as “Brexit” (short for British exit). Brexit formally took effect on 31st January 2020.
  • Since the 2016 referendum to leave the EU, some organisations have projected that the uncertainty may negatively impact the UK economy in the short term. However, the actual economic impact of Brexit itself is still very much unclear.


  • The Bank of England is the central bank for the British pound sterling. It issues banknotes and regulates the issuance of banknotes by private banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • The first paper money was issued in 1694 after the Bank of England was established.
  • The British pound sterling has been divided into 100 pence (denoted on coinage, until 1981, as “new pence”), since decimalisation on Decimal Day in 1971. The symbol for the penny coin is “p”, hence an amount such as 20p (£0.20) is often pronounced “twenty pee” and properly pronounced “twenty pence”.
  • The United Kingdom had the option to adopt the euro in 1999 but declined.


  • The full official name ‘pound sterling’ is used mainly in formal contexts, as well as when it is deemed necessary to distinguish the British pound currency from other currencies with the same name. Some nations that do not use the sterling also have currencies that are called the pound.
  • A common slang term for the GBP is ‘quid’.
  • The exchange rate of the pound sterling against the US dollar is referred to as “cable” in foreign exchange markets.
Nicknamesquid, cable, nicker
ISO 4217 codeGBP
Central bankBank of England
Currency subunitsPenny = 1/100
DenominationsBills: £1, £5, £10, £20, £50, £100
Coins: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2
Countries using this currencyUnited Kingdom
British Antarctic Territory (UK territory)
Falkland Islands (UK territory)
Gibraltar (UK territory)
Guernsey (UK territory)
Isle of Man (UK territory)
Jersey (UK territory)
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK territory)
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (UK territory)
Currencies pegged to GBPFalkland Islands pound
Gibraltar pound
Guernsey pound
Jersey pound
Manx pound
Saint Helena pound
GBP is pegged toNone