We use the rand every single day, whether it is paying for our rent, buying lunch, paying for that dream holiday or simply putting some away for that “rainy day”.
But have we ever thought of the history of our currency? Here are a few facts and information nuggets to get you better acquainted with our “boks”
* The rand is named after the area in South Africa where gold was first discovered – The Witwatersrand (White-Waters-Ridge)
* The Symbol is “R” which is subdivided into 100 cents “c”
* The ISO 4217 code is ZAR from the Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand
* The Rand was first introduced on the 14th February 1961 (Valentines Day!!!) after having used the Pound
* When it was introduced the Rand was 1.40 to the Dollar – this slowly depreciated to R3 = $1 in November 1992 and finally to R8 = $1 today.
* It is the currency of the Common Monetary Area which includes South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (although not part of the Common Monetary Area it can still be used as legal tender in Namibia)
* The denominations of the notes in 1961 were 1, 2, 10 , 20 and bore the image of Jan van Riebeeck
~ Interesting fact: The notes came in two variants – one having English written first and the other with Afrikaans
* In 1978 the denominations were changed to 2, 5, 10 with 20 and 50 being introduced in 1984
* The images of the Big 5 on the notes was introduced in the 1990’s with the 100 and 200 appearing in 1994.
~ Interesting fact: The phrase “Big 5” was coined by big game hunters when they referred to the most difficult animals to hunt on foot
The Notes Currently:
While we all know which note is represented by which Big 5 animal – have you ever considered what the reverse of the notes represent? There is in fact a wealth of information about South Africa depicted.
The R10 note – Rhinoceros
The reverse side is depicted by images representing “Agriculture”. Our awesome country is basically self-sufficient in all major agricultural products. We are among the world’s top exporters of:
* Ostrich Products
Wildely grown are maize, oats, sugar cane, wheat and sunflowers
The R20 note – Elephant
Representative of mining, of which South Africa is the world leader. We held the position of world’s largest gold producer for over 100 years (impressive!!!) until 2007. (Surpassed by China) We are the 4th largest producer of “a girl’s best friend” ~ diamonds.
The R50 note – Lion
Our Manufacturing industry! Sasol is the first and also the largest, oil-from coal refinery in the world! It provides as much as 40% of the country’s fuel. Putting us also in the top 10 exporters is that of primary steel.
The R100 note – Buffalo
Tourism, of which the zebra is the icon for our thriving tourism industry. From 2004, Tourism eclipsed gold as the foreign exchange earner. We are consistently receiving awards placing us among the top ten tourist destinations in the world. (Cape Town being voted as the world’s favourite city)
The R200 note – Leopard
Our elusive Leopard note’s reverse side represents Tansport and Communication. South Africa has the distinction of being the first country in the world (!) to launch prepaid, “please call me sms”, free voicemail and invented touchtone dialling. We are ranked as teh fourth-fastest growing mobile communications market in the world.
Not everything goes perfectly in the printing world and in 2011, the Reserve bank issued defective R100 notes.- defective because they lacked fluorescent printing under UV light.
Printing of the R100 was therefore moved in June from the South African Bank Note Company to Crane Currency’s Swedish division, producing reportedly 80 million R100 notes.
The Reserve bank had to shred approximately 3.6 million R100 notes printed by Crane’s, as they had the same serial numbers as a batch printed by the South African Bank Note Company.
And as if that is not enough the notes printed in Sweden were of the wrong colour and one millimeter short.
Where to from here?
On the 11th February, 2012, it was announced that there would be a new set of banknotes depicting the image of Nelson Mandela. These are in production, but no release date has been given.