Currencies Of The World

Posted by Allison on 13 April 2009, 11:06

We don't tend to think much about any of the world's currencies until it's time to go on holiday and visit the travel agent to get our money.

While we are all familiar with the more well known currencies, such as the US Dollar, the British Pound and the infamous Euro, there are plenty of other currencies being exchanged in countries all over the world right now – some of which you may not even have heard of.

Here is a breakdown of some of those currencies, including some background on each one.


China Yuan Renminbi

The Chinese yuan is represented in the Currency Code by the letters CNY.  The renminbi is the name given to the currency by other countries and can be translated to mean 'peoples' currency'.

One tenth of a renminbi is known as a jiao, and the word fen is used to describe one hundredth of a renminbi.  The only area in the world to use this currency is the mainland area of China.

The current set of banknotes has been in circulation for just over fifty years, although there have been several changes during this time and the number of banknotes of different denominations in circulation is rather large compared to some other currencies.

This is one currency where banknotes are used far more often than coins.


Denmark Krone

While the krone is the currency of choice in Denmark, it is also used in the Faroe Islands and in Greenland.  The currency code recognises the krone by the letters DKK.

One krone is divided into one hundred ore; the word 'ore' is usually seen with a diagonal slash across the o.  A couple of the coins are recognisable from the hole through the middle.  The banknotes are available in five denominations while the coins are available in seven different values.  The banknotes are due to be re-released with a brand new design in the next few years.

While Denmark could have been one of the countries to ditch their own currency in favour of the new Euro, it decided (along with several other countries) to keep it.


Hungary Forint

The forint may not be around too much longer, because Hungary is a European country which is currently considering changing over to the Euro.

At present however there are only three denominations of banknote in circulation (there used to be seven) and seven different coins.  The forint used to be made up from one hundred fillers, although these aren't used anymore.  The currency code recognises the forint by the letters HUF.

The forint is just over sixty years old and replaced the previous currency – the pengo – in 1946.  You tend to get a lot of forints when you exchange it for most other currencies – one British pound can get you around three hundred and forty forints, depending on the current exchange rate.


Mexico Pesos

The history of the Mexican peso stretches back some one hundred and fifty years, and while the coin used to be solid silver, they are now made from altogether more conservative materials such as aluminium bronze.

The peso is made of from a hundred centavos, and is recognised in the currency code by the letters MXN.  There are six different denominations of banknote used nowadays, and five coins which are used on a day to day basis.  There are also several other coins which, although they are still in circulation, are not used very often.  These are of much smaller denominations.

Three of the coins that are in use are striking because they have a two tone appearance – silver coloured on the outside and bronze in the centre.  It is not uncommon to read about the old and the new Mexican peso; since being re-valued some fifteen years ago it has held its value far more on the world stage.  The old peso used the letters MXP on the currency code.


Malaysia Ringgits

The Malaysian ringgit is sometimes referred to as the Malaysian dollar, and this is the only country in the world which uses this currency.  It can be identified in the currency code by the letters MYR.

The ringgit is divided into one hundred sen, and there are five denominations of sen coins in existence, together with six different kinds of banknote.  Whenever a price is written down in this currency it is preceded by the letters RM.

Ringgit is a Malaysian word which can be translated into jagged.  This word was adopted because the original dollar coins had jagged rather than smooth edges.  There have been four separate series of banknotes issued in Malaysia, with the most recent one being at the start of 2008.


Norway Krone

The Norwegian krone is just over one hundred and thirty years old.  It is recognised in the currency code by the letters NOK, and as with the Danish krone it is made up of one hundred ore.

The currency is made up from five banknotes and five coins, although the largest banknote value may soon become a thing of the past.  Most people don't use the 1000 krone banknote and some people think that by getting rid of it, bank robberies would be much harder to commit.

While Norway is the main user of this currency, Antartica and a handful of lesser known islands including Bouvet Island also use it on a day to day basis.


Singapore Dollars

While this currency uses the common dollar sign - $ - when it is written down, it is usually preceded by a capital letter S.  This is so that it doesn't get confused with any of the plethora of other dollar based world currencies.

It's recognised in the currency code by the letters SGD, and has been in existence since 1967, when it was called the rather more ornate 'orchid'.  This name was eventually taken over by the dollar.

As with any dollar currency it is divided into one hundred cents, and it is used by Brunei as well as in Singapore itself.

There are five coins in common circulation, along with a one cent coin which most people don't bother with.  There are seven denominations of banknote available, although the three highest denominations aren't generally used that often.


Thailand Baht

The Thailand baht is over one hundred years old, and its currency code is THB.  One baht is made up from one hundred satang.  There are nine different coins available (of which six are in common use) and six banknotes (of which five are in everyday use).  Before the satang came into being, the baht used to be made of eight fuang. 

As with many currencies, special Thai bahts are occasionally issued to mark a special occasion.  All the banknotes feature the image of the current reigning King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, while the picture on the back of the note varies.


South Africa Rand

The rand is used in more than one country – serving the residents of Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho as well as South Africa itself.  The currency code for the rand is ZAR.  As with the dollar currencies, a single rand is divided into one hundred cents.

There are five banknotes in circulation and seven coins, of which three are denominations of the rand and four are marked as cents.  The rand is approaching its half century as a recognised world currency.

The Republic of South Africa was the event which ended up replacing the old pound with the new rand.


Algeria Dinars

The dinar is a world currency that has a long history.  Variations of the dinar are used in several countries, but its roots go way back to Roman times when the currency was known as the denarius.

Each dinar is made up from one hundred santeems in theory, although this portion of the currency is no longer used.  The dinar is known in the currency code by the letters DZD.

There are just three banknotes used every day, together with five coins.  There used to be several coins of a much smaller value but due to inflation these are no longer needed.  The higher denominations of coins are striking because they are two tone – the inside of the coin is made from a different substance to the outside.


Argentina Pesos

As with all other forms of the peso, the sub unit of this currency is the centavo.  It is recognised in the currency code by the letters ARS.  The history of the peso stretches back almost two hundred years, and it has been seen in several forms since then.

There are four different denominations of centavo coin and three of the peso coin; the currency is also made up of six different banknotes.  What may come as a surprise is that while today many people may not even know what the currency of Argentina is, in years gone by it was one of the strongest and best known currencies in the world.


Bahamas Dollars

The Bahamian dollar has been in common circulation for over forty years, and maintains the same value as the US Dollar, since the Bahamian one is pegged to the other.

It can be found in the currency code as BSD, and there are four coins and six banknotes in regular use today.  There are a further three coins and two banknotes which are still legal tender, although they are not often seen or used.  These include the slightly unusual amount of a fifteen cent coin.

Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, also presides over the Bahamas, which is why the one dollar note has her image on it, although the impending new issue will have someone else's image instead.


Bahrain Dinars

The dinar has its roots in Roman times, when it was known as the denarius.  Nowadays the dinar is used in several countries, but as is the case with the dollar it is not identical in each of them.

Whereas the Algerian dinar consists of a hundred pieces, the Bahraini dinar is made up of a thousand units called fils.  The currency is recognised in the currency code by the letters BHD.

There are five kinds of banknote in circulation each representing a different amount of dinars, and six coins which each represent different amounts of fils.  The currency is just over forty years old.


Chile Pesos

The present day Chilean peso is a little over thirty years old, although its history goes back much further than that – the first version of this currency saw the light of day nearly two hundred years ago.

The currency is made up from five banknotes and four coins, although there are two other denominations of coin which aren't used anymore.  The currency is represented in the currency code by the letters CLP.

When you research the history of the peso, you will see that it has a lot in common with the other pesos used as currency in certain countries around the world.  Previous to its current day incarnation it was made up from eight reales rather than one hundred centavos.


Croatia Kuna

Croatia is the only user of the kuna currency, which is found in the currency code under the letters HRK.  One kuna is made up from one hundred lipa, and there are four types of lipa coin available.  There are also three kuna coins and five denominations of banknote.  As with several currencies today, there are also a few coins and banknotes which, while still being legal tender, are no longer in general use.

The history of the kuna stretches back hundreds of years, and although the existing currency has only been around since 1939, it made its first appearance way back in the 1400s.

The modern day banknotes are far more colourful than their early counterparts, which looked somewhat washed out and far older than their years.


Vietnam Dong

The Vietnam Dong has been around for three decades, and is represented in the currency code by the letters VND.  Unlike many currencies it actually has two official sub divisions – the hao and the xu – although these are now a thing of the past.

All the coins and banknotes are for different values of the dong, and there are currently ten banknotes in circulation – from the one hundred dong note to the one hundred thousand dong note – and just five coins.

While it's true that many denominations of banknote have seen the light of day and then been withdrawn in the past, this has been due to very high inflation, which has on occasion rendered the smaller valued notes next to useless.


Czech Republic Koruna

The koruna is used in both the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, and it was the replacement for the Czechoslovak koruna some fifteen years ago.  Its currency code is CZK.  When an amount of koruna is written down it is generally superseded by the letters Kc.

At present it is possible that the koruna may eventually be ditched in favour of the Euro, although this is still a few years away if it does happen.  At present, the koruna is divided into one hundred haler, although there is only one coin representing the haler and that is worth fifty halers.  The other six coins of this currency are all koruna coins, as are the seven banknotes in circulation. 


Iceland Krona

The Icelandic krona has been around since the late nineteenth century, and is recognisable in the currency code by the letters ISK.  Each krona is divided into one hundred eyrir, although all the coins and notes in circulation now are made up of kronur and nothing else.

There are just five coins and three banknotes in regular use now; there have been many more in the past but due to the fluctuating value of the currency some of the older coins have been considered no longer practical to use.

Just as with many other countries in this part of the world, there is a possibility that Iceland may eventually join the EU and adopt the Euro as its chosen currency instead of continuing with the krona.  Only time will tell.


Iran Rials

While different variations of the dinar are used in various countries, Iran is somewhat different.  Its currency is the rial, but each rial is made up from one hundred dinars.  This has no relevance to the value of dinars elsewhere however, as the rial is a fairly weak currency at present, and in fact it isn't referred to in dinars as the value would be too small.

The currency code recognises the rial by the letters IRR, and there are nine banknotes in common usage, along with four different denominations of coin.

The rial has a long history which stretches back over two hundred years, although originally it only lasted for a little over twenty five years before being replaced for over a century.


Israel New Shekels

The shekel as a currency is an ancient one, going back hundreds of years.  With that said, the new Israeli shekel is only a baby, with barely twenty three years to its name.  Previous to that the old shekel was in place.

It appears in the currency code as the abbreviation ILS, and it is also used in Palestinian areas.  A single shekel is split into one hundred agoras.  There is a total of four banknotes and six coins currently in circulation, and each banknote is recognisable from its unique colour scheme.


Kenya Shillings

While the shilling may remind some people of an old denomination used in the British currency system, it is in fact a separate currency in Kenya.  A single shilling in this country is divided into one hundred cents.  The relevant currency code is KES.

There are a total of eight coins in circulation, although two of the lower denominations are not seen very often at all.  Similarly there are seven banknotes, again including two of which aren't seen any more.

The shilling is a little over forty years old.


Kuwait Dinars

Another one of the countries which uses some form of the dinar, Kuwait has been using it since 1960.

It is listed in the currency code under the letters KWD, and one single dinar is made up from one thousand fils.

There are six dinar banknotes in existence and five coins denoting various
denominations of fils.  While some issues of the banknotes have occurred for security reasons and simply to bring in new designs, one in particular has real significance, since it replaced the Iraqi dinar which was brought in when the country was invaded by Iraq.


Morocco Dirhams

Morocco's currency is recognised in the currency code by the letters MAD.  One dirham is made up of one hundred santimat.  The singular term for santimat is santim.

There are four santimat coins, five dirham coins and a total of five banknotes of varying denominations.  While the modern dirham is only just short of half a century old, the dirham coin first surfaced back in the early 1880s.

It is interesting to note that the word 'dirham' comes from the same original word as the dinar, which is another common currency in several countries.  The word they both derive from is denarius, which is Roman in origin.


Oman Rials

Oman is the only user of this particular currency, which is indicated by the letters OMR in the currency code.

The other unit of this currency is the baisa, and there are one thousand baisas to each rial.  At the present time there are four baisa coins in circulation, together with two baisa banknotes and six different denominations of rial banknotes.

The history of the rial is somewhat complex, but its modern use began officially in 1973.  A few years previously the Gulf rupee was the currency in use.


Falklands Pound

The Falkland Islands pound has much in common with the British pound, although they are still recognised as two separate currencies.  The Falklands pound is indicated by the letters FKP in the currency code.

Just as with the British pound, each Falklands pound is divided up into one hundred pennies.  The currencies are also worth exactly the same amount as each other, and although the design of the Falklands pound varies from the British one, there are similarities and Queen Elizabeth II appears on all the banknotes.

There are eight coins and four banknotes in circulation, which are of the same denominations as the British pound.


Poland Zloty

This is the new Polish currency, which replaced the old zlotych in 1995.  The currency is represented by the letters PLN in the currency code.

The zloty is probably one of the longest serving currencies in the world.  When you look back at how it has changed over the years it has been present as a currency for centuries, but has experienced big changes during that time, including the most recent one in the 1990s.

There are one hundred grosz in a zloty, and there are six coins which represent different values of grosz.  There are also three zloty coins and five zloty notes.


Romania New Lei

The Romanian lei is indicated by the letters RON in the currency code, and has existed for a mere three years.  Before that the old lei was in place.

There are one hundred ban in a single lei, and there are just three bani coins in existence.  Bani is the plural for ban.  The lei is represented by five different denominations of banknote.

The history of the lei stretches back for nearly a century and a half, although as with many currencies that are this old the lei has a fractured history which has depended a lot on how valuable the currency has been at any one time.  This was the reason why the new lei replaced the old one quite recently.


Trinidad and Tobago Dollars

The history of this particular version of the dollar is just over a century old.  As with other dollar currencies it consists of one hundred cents, and uses the dollar symbol.  It is recognised in the currency code by the letters TTD.

There are four denominations of coins in use, together with five different banknotes.  Every single banknote is of a different colour to help with identification.

Some people are surprised to learn that the British pound also used to be in circulation in Trinidad and Tobago, although eventually their own version of the dollar superseded it.


Tunisia Dinars

Tunisia is the only country in the world to use their version of the dinar.  Each dinar is split into one thousand milims, and there are five coins which represent different values of milims.  There are also three dinar coins and three dinar banknotes.

Tunisian dinars are listed in the currency code by the letters TND.  The currency itself is approaching its half century in use, and its use at present is fairly restricted.  The only place you can get any Tunisian dinars is within the country itself.


Turkey New Lira

Some countries have the same currency for years and then change it to a new version of that same currency; this can be done for many reasons but usually it is because of the devaluation of the previous currency.

This is what happened to the lira, and the new version came into effect at the beginning of 2005.  The old currency code for the lira was also replaced with a new one, which is TRY.

A single lira is made up from one hundred kurus, and there are five kuru coins and one lira coin in circulation.  There are also six new lira banknotes available for use.


There are dozens of different currencies in use all over the world, and the landscape in this area is constantly changing as currencies in one place become devalued, others become obsolete and new ones take their place.

But however different the monetary landscape is in five, ten or even fifty years from now, it's a safe bet to assume that there will still be dozens of currencies in circulation.

They just might all be different ones.



  1. I love currencies but only as far as my hobby is concerned. This article was fascinating and there were a few currencies here I hadn’t come across before. It’s always fascinating to see which countries use which currencies. We tend to get so used to every aspect of our own that we can forget which ones are used elsewhere. I hadn’t heard of the Romanian currency, so that will be one on my list to find out more about!

    — David · Jan 31, 01:48 PM · #