You’ll have heard of a currency called the franc before I’m sure, but you may not realise that Djibouti uses its own version of the franc. Here we’ll find out more about it.
As you would probably guess, the Djibouti franc is divided into 100 centimes, just as the French version was. There are lots of coins available and yet none of these are now in centimes, since they have essentially become worthless. The franc coins are the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 250 and 500 franc coins.
In addition to this we have four banknotes. These range from a 1,000 franc note, through to the 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes.
Think of the franc and you automatically think of France, even though the country has given up the franc in favour of using the euro nowadays. However the reason Djibouti is using the franc is because it once used the French franc so it was familiar with the currency already. This was back in the late-1800s.
Fast forward to 1949 and you’ll see that this was when Djibouti started using its own currency. It would be another three years before the country had its own banknotes but this marked the day the Djibouti franc started to be circulated and used as the new official currency.
Unfortunately the Djiboutian franc is one of the world’s more challenging currencies to get hold of. You probably won’t be able to get it from a bureau de change before leaving home, since most of them don’t stock it.
This means finding somewhere to get cash when you arrive in the country. This is easier to do than you might think, especially if you know anything about Djibouti prior to visiting there. It is a poor country but there are a variety of bureaux de change available at which you can change your own currency for the local franc. The alternative is to go to a bank. Don’t expect to be able to use cash machines since cards from other countries are not accepted (that’s assuming you could find a cash machine in the first place).
Another point to note is the lack of facilities for using credit cards. As is the case with many countries like this, credit cards are rarely used and you will most often be expected to pay in cash. This means you must travel to Djibouti with enough cash to get by during your trip. One final but very important point is to take US dollars or euros with you, as these are the preferred currencies to exchange. Avoid taking anything else as you could end up with cash you can’t do anything with!
This is quite easy to do since you only need to use a currency converter. You’ll find you can locate the Djibouti franc most easily by using the ISO code DJF. Alternatively if you start typing in Djibouti this will normally find the right currency too. You can then find your own currency and get the conversion information you need.
At the time of writing there does not seem to be an official website for the Djibouti embassy in the UK (although there are a number of other unofficial websites giving information on embassies of every description). The best link to use to find out more about the country is the official UK government website. This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/djibouti.
Whenever you are in a foreign country it makes good sense to be aware of your surroundings and of any potential dangers that exist there. No countries are completely free from crime, but some have areas that are more dangerous to be in than others. That’s why it is a good idea to find out the latest travel information that exists before you travel to Djibouti. This applies to any other location in the world too of course.
Most of Djibouti is safe to go to, however it is wise to steer clear of the border areas with the other countries that border Djibouti. This is particularly true of the border with Eritrea. It is advised that you stay well clear of this – the boundary area you should avoid is updated when necessary and the information is given on the UK government website (address given above).
As is the case in many parts of the world, petty crime and pickpocketing is the main threat here in terms of protecting your cash. Wear clothing that has several pockets and make use of all of them if you can. Divide up your cash instead of carrying it in one wad. People will watch which pocket your cash is in and pick it without you even realising. At least by dividing it up you can stall your losses if you are picked on. Don’t travel at night if you can help it and don’t travel alone either.
Make sure you know the current situation in the country with regard to more severe crime including terrorism as well. This should be done prior to your trip and during it to make sure you are protected as much as possible.
Djibouti – officially known as the Republic of Djibouti – can be found in the Horn of Africa. You’ll notice when you find it on a map that it’s quite a small country. Eritrea borders it to the north, Ethiopia curves around the western and southern areas of the country and Somalia is to the south-east. The remaining border is actually coastline and it faces the Red Sea and also the Gulf of Aden.
The capital of the country is rather conveniently called Djibouti City. There are some lovely sights to seek out here, not least of which are the shops that offer all kinds of things at good prices. You will probably notice the cost of living here is much cheaper than you would be used to at home. The city has some markets too, not least of which is Ryad Market which is an open air one. There are many mosques and other buildings that are worth looking at on your travels through the city, but you may want to rest awhile in Lagarde Park, the largest of the city parks to be found here.
But what of the rest of the country – what is there to be found here? Well, let’s start with the Day Forest National Park. It sits in the Goda Mountains and therefore offers some spectacular views across the land here. This land is home to much in the way of flora and fauna. It is thought that some birds unique to Djibouti have made the Day Forest National Park their home, so who knows, you may end up seeing a bird or two that you would never have the chance to see elsewhere.
If you’d like to venture off the coast of Djibouti you can go and see Moucha Island. This is well worth the trip because while the island is relatively small it does offer a chance to escape the mainland. The island isn’t well-developed so you can enjoy wandering around on foot and exploring the beauty and nature it has to offer. While the island is small it does have its own airport; however the best way to get to it is by catching a small boat from the mainland for a small fee. If you love scuba diving you can do that here, or simply do some snorkelling or swimming in the clear waters.
There is a little more water inland in Djibouti itself, called Lake Assal. This is what is known as a crater lake and it has a high degree of salt in it. This is because no water flows out of the lake. The warmth in the area means plenty of water evaporates, hence the higher salt content.
Djibouti isn’t somewhere many tourists would consider visiting. However you can see there are some major sights to enjoy if you do decide to go there. You can enjoy a number of unusual experiences too. For example if you did go out to Moucha Island you could take a tent and some other provisions with you and camp on the island for the night. Have you ever done something like this before? It’s quite an experience to have, that’s for sure.
Your money will go quite a way in Djibouti since the prices for things tend to be very low compared to Western prices. This means you can enjoy a cheap break to the country and not spend too much while you are there. It certainly has something to offer if this is your type of holiday.