The old R1 and new R10 bank notes
The Rand is the currency of South Africa. It was first introduced in 1961, when South Africa became an independent Republic, replacing the South African Pound as legal tender. One Rand is divided into 100 cents. The Rand is available as 5 bills (R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200) and 9 coins (1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5).
- Minting of 1 and 2 cent coins was halted in April 2002.
- The ISO currency code is ZAR, and the usual notation is the prefix R.
- The currency was named after the Witwatersrand gold mining region.
- The plural of Rand is Rand, it does not become Rands.
- The Rand was stronger than the US Dollar until March 1982 when it broke above the R1 = $1 level for the first time in history.
- The strongest historic level of the Rand vs. the US Dollar was when R1 bought $1.49992 on the 5th of June 1973
- Exchange rate (as of 11/04/2005): 1 USD = 6.15 ZAR, 1 EUR = 7.95 ZAR, 1 GBP = 11.58 ZAR
The first banknotes bore the image of Jan van Riebeeck the first Dutch administrator of Cape Town. In the 1980s, the notes were redesigned with images of indigenous big game animals , such as the rhinoceros, lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, etc.
During the apartheid era, the Rand was worth approximately the same as a U.S. dollar. However, the currency lost most of its value during the late 1980's due to sanctions and pressure on the government, as well as economic uncertainty due to the changeover to black majority rule. In the middle of the 1990's, one rand was worth about 15-20 U.S. cents.
Just after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Rand suffered a dramatic loss against all major currencies, while problems in neighbouring Zimbabwe quickened the depreciation. In December 2001 the Rand reached an all-time low of 1 USD = 13.85 ZAR; since then, the Rand has made a dramatic recovery, regaining much of its lost value, most notably against the US Dollar. A commission was set up to investigate the reasons for the currencies sudden depreciation, but no one reason could be singled out as a cause.
In August 2004 a new R5 coin was introduced, in an effort to curb counterfeiting of the old R5 coin. Security features introduced include a bi-metal design (similar to the €1 and €2 coins, and the British £2 coin), a specially-serrated security groove along the rim and micro-lettering.
See also: Witwatersrand, Krugerrand