South African Currency

The South African currency is the rand (R or ZAR). The purchase power seems better in South Africa than any other developed countries because the cost of living is lower.

In the past 9 years, I have noticed that the rand generally fluctuates around 10 to the Euro with highs and lows. Nevertheless, whether the rand is weak or strong at a given point of time, against the US dollar or the Euro, it seems not to change the fact that we live in a country where life isn't expensive.

South African Currency History

The Rand has been introduced in South Africa in 1961 as the national currency of South Africa at the birth of South Africa’s independence at the rate of 2 rands= 1 Livre sterling and has kept this exchange rate until 1967.

Banknotes were first hand-written then few years after printed in England but from then on, the South African Bank Note Company (SABN) (Pty) Ltd has been established in South Africa. This factory has taken care of the requirements of the S.A Reserve Bank.

What’s interesting about the SA currency is that it was initially the sterling pound which was the money of the Cape Colony in 1825. It became ponds in 1867 after the South African Republic (in Afrikaans: Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek-ZAR) launched its own coins and notes which was still the equivalent of the sterling pound in terms of value. A rand was worth more than a US dollar at that time! And when aparteid started, the rand started to depreciate up to R 3 to the dollar!

It’s currently around R7 to the dollar but it changes from one month to another. However, over the past 9 years, I have noticed that the rand fluctuate around R10 to R11 for 1 Euro with highs and lows.

South African currency notes

The first series of rand banknotes have been issued in 1, 2, 10 and 20 rand with similar designs and colours to the preceding pound notes to ease the transition. And then, in 1978, the denominations were 2, 5 and 10 rand. In 1984 came the 20 and 50 rand notes. The 5 and 20 rand notes were in English and the others in Afrikaans.

In the 90s, the notes changed to what they are today: with the African Big Five on them and the 100 and 200 rand notes were introduced. The notes 2 and 5 have been replaced by coins.

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