Before 1912, Albania used the Turkish Lira, which was also the Ottoman currency. Since Albania was such a small country it was ripe for takeover throughout history. The Ottoman empire was one of the many influences Albania had in the countries rule. This accounts for why the Lira was used. During 1912 and 1926 there was a lot of upheaval in the country, which led to the ultimate destruction of the national currency as the Lira. In 1926 the first Lek was produced. The Lek is Albanian’s current currency. When the Lek first began there were four denominations in circulation. The lek was equivalent to the Italian lira. However, this did not last long as the occupation by Italy in Albania in 1938 reduced the value to .8 Italian Liras. There were also coins that were issued in denominations that were solely lek during the occupation.
When World War Two began there was a reduction in the Lek produced. In fact only two of the coins were issued between 1946 and 1948. After this time the Lek was then tied to the Soviet Ruble with a rate of 12.5 Lek per 1 ruble. The second Lek began in 1961 and revalued in 1965 where 10 old Leke equaled 1 new Lek. The first and second Leke have been significantly reduced in use since the second World War and the communist reign. The inflation of the Lek has made it suffer. In 1992 the Lek Valuta was introduced. It had a value of 50 Leke, and was issued in two denominations of banknotes. The 10 and 50 Lek Valuta was issued during this time period. You will find the Lek Valuta did not reestablish the Lek in currency.
At the moment the Lek are stilling being minted, but the Euro has really outstripped its necessity. You will find that the 100 Leke was added in 2000 to the production as were some of the banknotes. You will find when you travel to Albania the Lek is still used, and that you will have a better exchange rate for your currency.