South African Rand

Name of currency: South African Rand
Country / countries used: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland (unofficial) and Zimbabwe (unofficial).
Symbol: R

Brief history:

The South African Rand is a relatively new currency, having been introduced on the 14th February 1961, replacing the South African Pound as the legal tender. The move was based on the decimalisation of the currency and as such as part of the introduction campaign, the government the mascot “Decimal Dan”. The year 1961, also saw the creation of the Republic of South Africa after a referendum held on May 31st, leading to the severance of official ties with the United Kingdom.
The foreign currency exchange rate of the South African Rand remained steady from its inception to the early eighties, with a value of circa. 1,40 USD. However, due to the Country’s continued use of the Apartheid system, many western countries were exerting political pressure via financial means and had restricted trade with the Republic. By February 1985, the effects on the exchange rate of the South African Rand were pronounced with a rate of R2 to the USD. By July 1985, the government took the dramatic step of suspending all foreign exchange trading for three days in a bid to reduce the devaluation. This was however, a failed attempt and by mid- August the rate had fallen to R2,40 to the USD. Despite a brief respite in the interim years by late 1989, exchange rate had dropped to R2,50 per USD.
The early nineties saw a period of increasing turbulence for the currency, after a raft of political reforms were passed, creating a high degree of uncertainty about the country’s future. During this period the South African Rand dropped to R3,60 per USD, after the 1994 Democratic election. In 2001, after a controversial land reform the rand reached its lowest level at R13,84 per USD. This spurred a series of investigations into the currency, which ultimately led to a dramatic recovery of the currency. This rate of improvement continued in a consistent fashion until 2006, when a series of factors made foreign investors wary. These factors include the worsening account deficit, a series of electricity crisis and a downturn in the country’s mining industry.
The coins of the South African Rand are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R 1, R 2, R 5 (c stands for cent) and the note denominations are R 10, R 20, R 50, R 100, R 200. As counterfeiting is a common problem in South Africa, the reserve bank often reissues both coins and notes. By 2005, new measure such as colour shifting ink and the EURion constellation had been introduced, however counterfeiting remains common.
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