Currencies Around the World
Whether you like it or not, money makes the world go ’round. I decided it would be fun to collect a note from each country I have visited while Bicycle Touring around the world and share them with you with a brief description of what the bill means. They come in all shapes in sizes, paper, plastic, and denominations. Constantly Updated as I enter each new country.!
Canada Dollar (CAD)
The Canadian five-dollar bill is currently the lowest denomination banknote issued by the Bank of Canada.
The current five-Canadian dollar bill is dominantly blue in colour. The front features a portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the coat of arms, and a picture of the West Block of the Parliament buildings. The reverse side depicts children engaged in winter sports, including sledding, ice skating, and hockey; this is accompanied by a quotation from Roch Carrier’s short story, “The Hockey Sweater”In the image, one of the hockey players is wearing jersey number 9. Many believe this is to honour Canadian hockey legend Maurice Richard (which would follow Carrier’s story, in which a young Québécois boy is obsessed with “The Rocket”), but the list of great Canadian hockey players to have worn the number is long.
Yellow dots representing the eurion constellation can be found on the reverse side. This bill features raised, textured printing as well as a special tactile feature (similar to Braille dots) to assist the blind in identifying the denomination.
In 2009, a guerilla campaign was launched by Canadian Citizens to “Spock your Fives“, modifying the picture of Sir Wilfred Laurier to look like the character Spock from the popular series Star Trek.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 CAD)
United States of America Dollar (USD)
The United States one-dollar bill ($1) is the most common denomination of US currency. The first president, George Washington, The $1 bill is the lowest currency in circulation as of 2012.
The bill is extremely detailed, with the inclusion of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on all currency was required by law in 1955 and first appeared on paper money in 1957. The $1 has been the focus of conspiracy for decades. Conspiracy theorists point to the Eye of Providence on the one dollar bill both as a suggestion that the Freemasons have some extensive and perhaps subversive influence over the founding of the United States and/or American finances and that the dollar bill is linked in some way to the occult.
Some conspiracy theorists suggest that the dollar bill design makes use of the Eye of Providence as an occult symbol, since a design very similar to the Eye of Providence was used in the worship of the sun god Horus in Ancient Egypt. However, designs similar to the Eye of Providence were also used by Christians to represent the Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Since many early Americans were Christian (including the founding fathers), it is likely that the Great Seal of the United States was designed with this symbolism for this purpose.
Some conspiracy theorists also suggest that the dollar bill has many references to the number thirteen. For example, the pyramid on the dollar bill has thirteen steps, and other instances of the number appear in the Great Seal of the United States and on the dollar bill.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 USD)
Mexico Peso (MXN)
The name was originally used in reference to pesos oro (gold weights) or pesos plata (silver weights). The literal English translation of the Spanish word peso is weight. A portrait of Benito Juarez is the dominant feature on the front of the note. Juarez of native stock, was largely self- educated, became a lawyer, a judge and Minister of Justice. He supported the oppressed and opposed the dictatorship of General Santa Anna. There were very turbulent times in Mexico in the 1850’s & 1860’s. Juarez served two terms as President of Mexico; he died in office in 1872. He was a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln with whom he held similar views and they apparently corresponded at length over a number of years.
At the centre of the note is a design very similar to the coat of arms of Mexico. Based on an ancient Aztec sign, the design features an eagle perched on its left leg on a cactus branch and fruits as it holds a rattle snake in the other leg and its beak. Below the cactus are oak branches symbolising strength and laurel branches symbolizing victory. Here the eagle is front-on with wings spread, whereas on the coat of arms its wings are partly furled and it is depicted in left profile. The 20 Peso Banknote is the lowest valued currency as of 2009 in circulation.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 MXN)
South Africa Rand (ZAR)
The rand is the currency of South Africa. It takes its name from the Witwatersrand (White-waters-ridge in English), the ridge upon which Johannesburg is built and where most of South Africa’s gold deposits were found. The rand was introduced on 14 February 1961.
The rand is the currency of the Common Monetary Area between South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. Although Namibia withdrew itself from the Common Monetary Area, the rand is still legal tender there. All of the notes feature images of the big five Wildlife species (lion, African elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros). 10 Rand is the smallest bill in circulation as of 2012.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 ZAR)
Namibia Dollar (NAD)
The dollar has been the currency of Namibia since 1993. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively N$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents. The dollar replaced the South African rand, which had been the country’s currency while it was under South African rule as South-West Africa 1920-1990. The rand is still legal tender, as the Namibian dollar is linked to the South African rand and can be exchanged on a one-to-one basis locally. Namibia was also part of the Common Monetary Area from independence in 1990 until introduction of the dollar in 1993. Hendrik Witbooi, once a Namaqua chief and instrumental in leading the revolts against German rule at the turn of the 20th century, is depicted on all banknotes.
10 Dollars is the lowest currency bill in circulation as of 2012.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 NAD)
Botswana Pula (BWP)
The Pula is the currency of Botswana. Pula literally means “rain” in Setswana, because rain is very scarce in Botswana – home to much of the Kalahari Desert – and therefore valuable. Pula also means “blessing” as rain is considered a blessing.
The pula was introduced in 1976, replacing the South African rand at par. Despite a 12% devaluation in May 2005, the pula remains one of the strongest currencies in Africa. The banknote is green with the portrait of His Excellency President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. On the reverse side, the picture is of the National Assembly building.The lowest currency in bill form is the 10 Pula which is still in circulation as of 2012.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 BWP)
Zambia Kwacha (ZMK)
The Kwacha name derives from the Nyanja and Bemba word for “dawn”, alluding to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a “new dawn of freedom”. The name ngwee translates as “bright” in the Nyanja language. All notes have a fish eagle on one side, and the reverse feature a man breaking free of chains. Zambia is the first country in Africa to use polymer (plastic) notes since 2003. The lowest denomination currently in circulation is the 50 Kwacha Note as of 2012.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 ZMK)
Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWD)
Although the dollar was considered to be among the highest valued currency units when it was introduced in 1980 to replace the Rhodesian dollar at a ratio of 1:1, political turmoil and hyperinflation rapidly eroded the value of the Zimbabwe dollar to become one of the least valued currency units in the world, undergoing three redenominations, with paper denominations including a $100 trillion banknote.
Despite attempts to control inflation by legislation, and three separate redenominations in 2006, 2008 and 2009, the use of the dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009. This was a result of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe legalizing the use of foreign currencies for transactions in January 2009.
Currencies such as the South African rand, Botswana pula, pound sterling, euro, and the United States dollar are now used for all transactions in Zimbabwe; the policy of the government of Zimbabwe has insisted that any attempts to reintroduce Zimbabwean currency should be considered only if industrial output improves.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 ZWD)
Mozambique Metiscal (MZN)
Mozambique has had many currencies throughout its history – this is the 2nd generation of metical which came into effect as of July 1, 2006 – Old meticais will be redeemed by the Bank of Mozambique for a period of six years, until December 31, 2012.
From July 1, 2006, new banknotes were issued in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 meticais.The three smaller denominations are now printed on polymer like in Zambia. while the higher denominations remain printed on paper.
The 20 Metical is the lwoest circulating bill as of May 2012.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 MZN)
Malawi Kwacha (MWK)
The kwacha (ISO 4217: MWK) is the currency of Malawi as of 1971, replacing the Malawian pound. It is divided into 100 tambala. The kwacha replaced other types of currency, namely the UK pound sterling, the South African rand and the Rhodesian dollar, that had previously circulated through the Malawian economy. In May 2012, the Reserve Bank of Malawi devalued the kwacha by 34% and unpegged it from the United States dollar.
The name kwacha derives from both the Nyanja and Bemba word for “dawn”, while tambala translates as “rooster” in Nyanja. The tambala was so named because a rooster appeared on the first one tambala coin.
Unfortunately the currency has gone through many changes in value over time and the highest bill one can receive is a 500 Kwacha Note, resulting in awfully large wads of bills in your market considering they are worth no more than $2 USD at present.
The smallest circulating bill in Malawi at present is the 20 Kwacha note.
According to an article on Nyasa Times dated 9 March 2012, within the next six months the Reserve Bank of Malawi will introduce a whole new series of notes, including a 1,000-kwacha note, twice the largest denomination currently in circulation. The notes were announced in Biantyre on 8 March by Governor Dr. Perks Ligoya. The new notes will be much smaller in size than the current notes, which serves as a cost-cutting measure.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 MWK)
Tanzania Shilling (TZS)
The shilingi (Swahili; English: shilling) is the currency of Tanzania, although widespread use of U.S. dollars is accepted. It is subdivided into 100 senti (cents in English). The Tanzanian shilling replaced the East African shilling on 14 June 1966 at par.
On 14 June 1966, the Benki Kuu Ya Tanzania (Bank of Tanzania) introduced notes for 5, 10, 20 and 100 shilingi (also denominated in shillings on the first series of notes). The 5 shilingi note was replaced by a coin in 1972. 50 shilingi notes were introduced in 1985, followed by 200 shilingi in 1986, 500 shilingi in 1989 and 1000 shilingi in 1990. The 10, 20, 50 and 100 shilingi notes were replaced by coins in 1987, 1990, 1996 and 1994, respectively. 5000 and 10,000 shilingi notes were introduced in 1995, followed by 2000 shilingi in 2003. A new series of notes came out in 2011. These new notes include many security features that prevent counterfeiting.
Banknotes in circulation as of the my visit in 2012 are 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000 shilingi, with the 10,000’s more difficult to find than the more common 5000. This 500 hilingi note contains a picture of a Buffalo on one side and on the reverse a drawing of Nkrumah Hall located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s biggest city.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 TZS)
Kenya Shiling (KES)
although the latter was not demonetized until 1969. The Central Bank of Kenya issued notes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 shillings. All of the notes feature a portrait of Kenya’s first prime minister and president, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, on the front and diverse economic activities on the back. 5 shillings notes were replaced by coins in 1985, with the same happening to 10 and 20 shillings in 1994 and 1998. In 1986, 200 shillings notes were introduced, followed by 500 shillings in 1988 and 1000 shillings in 1994.
As with the coins, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta appeared on the banknotes issued until 1978, with Daniel arap Moi’s portrait replacing him in 1980. In 2003, after Mwai Kibaki replaced Moi as president, 5, 10, and 20 shilling notes from the 1978 series with Kenyatta’s picture that had been in storage were issued, and circulated for a time. A new series of notes was then introduced on which Kenyatta reappeared with denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 shilling. The issue of 12 December 2003 commemorates the “40 years of Independence 1963-2003”. The banknotes are printed in Nairobi by De La Rue.
The smallest circulating shilling note as of 2012 is the 20 note which shows the coat of arms of Kenya with Danitel Toroitch arap Moi, with a picture of a baton and a jogger at the International Sports Arena located in Nairobi.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 KES)
Uganda Shilling (UGX)
The first Ugandan shilling (UGS) replaced the East African shilling in 1966 at par. Following high inflation, a new shilling (UGX) was introduced in 1987 worth 100 old shillings.
The shilling is now a stable currency and predominates in most financial transactions in Uganda, which has a very efficient foreign exchange market with low spreads. The United States dollar is also widely accepted. The pound sterling and increasingly the euro are also used.
In 1987, notes were introduced in the new currency in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 shillings. In 1991, 500 and 1000 shilling notes were added, followed by 5000 shillings in 1993, 10,000 shillings in 1998, 20,000 shillings in 1999, 50,000 shillings in 2003 and 2000 shillings in 2010. Banknotes currently in circulation are 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 shillings. In 2005, the Bank of Uganda was considering whether to replace the low value notes such as the 1000 shilling with coins. The lower denomination notes take a battering in daily use, often being very dirty and sometimes disintegrating.
On 17 May 2010, the Bank of Uganda issued a new family of notes featuring a harmonized banknote design that depict Uganda’s rich historical, natural, and cultural heritage. They also bear improved security features. Five images appear on all the six denominations: Ugandan mat patterns, Ugandan basketry, the map of Uganda (complete with the equator line), the Independence Monument, and a profile of a man wearing Karimojong headdress. Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile said the new notes did not constitute a currency reform, nor were they dictated by politics.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 UGX)
South Sudan Pound (SSP)
The South Sudanese pound is the official currency of the Republic of South Sudan. It is subdivided into 100 piasters. It was approved by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly prior to secession on 9 July 2011 from Sudan. It was introduced on 18 July 2011, and replaced the Sudanese pound at par.
The banknotes feature the image of John Garang, the deceased leader of South Sudan’s independence movement. The lowest denomination ‘1’ features a giraffe on the rear.
Six different denominations (1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 pounds) in the form of banknotes have been confirmed, and five denominations (1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 piasters) will be issued in the form of coins.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 SSP)
Rwanda Franc (RWF)
The franc became the currency of Rwanda in 1916, when Belgium occupied the previously German colony and the Belgian Congo franc replaced the German East African rupie. Rwanda used the currency of Belgian Congo until 1960, when the Rwanda and Burundi franc was introduced. Rwanda began issuing its own francs in 1964.
There are plans to introduce a common currency, a new East African shilling, for the five member states of the East African Community.
The smallest note is a 100 franc note with the front depicting a Farmer and buffaloes plowing a field and the reverse showing Kiwu Lake at Kibuye
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 RWF)
Burundi Franc (BIF)
The franc became the currency of Burundi in 1916, when Belgium occupied the former Germany colony and replaced the German East African rupie with the Belgian Congo franc. Burundi used the currency of Belgian Congo until 1960, when the Rwanda and Burundi franc was introduced. Burundi began issuing its own francs in 1964.
There are plans to introduce a common currency, a new East African shilling, for the five member states of the East African Community by the end of 2015.
The smallest note is a 100 franc note with the front depicting a Home construction and the rear depicting Prince Rwagasore. It must be noted that Burundian notes are some of the dirtiest banknotes I’ve ever held in my entire life. Often brittle to break upon touching, and well faded where one canot tell the denomination. It is rare to find clean notes at any time even from a bank/atm/shop.
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 BIF)
Angola Kwanza (AOA)
(One Canadian Dollar equals 0 AOA)
More curency will be added after I cycle through the countries!