The South African Rand (sign: R; code: ZAR) is the currency of South Africa. The Rand is subdivided into 100 cents (sign: "c"). The ISO 4217 code is ZAR, from Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand (South African Rand). The Rand is legal tender in the Common Monetary Area between South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Namibia, although the last three countries do have their own currencies.
The Rand was introduced in the then Union of South Africa on 14 February 1961, three months before the Republic of South Africa was established. A Decimal Coinage Commission had been set up in 1956 to consider a move away from the denominations of pounds, shillings, and pence, submitting its recommendation on 8 August 1958. It replaced the South African pound as legal tender, at the rate of 2 Rand to 1 pound, or 10 shillings to the Rand. The government introduced a mascot, Decimal Dan, "the Rand-cent man" (known in Afrikaans as Daan Desimaal). This was accompanied by a radio jingle, to inform the public about the new currency.
A Rand was worth US$1.40 from the time of its inception in 1961 until late in 1971. Its value thereafter fluctuated as various exchange rate dispensations were implemented by the South African authorities. By the early 1980s high inflation and mounting political pressure combined with sanctions placed against the country due to apartheid started to erode its value. The currency broke above parity with the dollar for the first time in March 1982, and continued to trade between R 1 and R 1.30 to the dollar until June 1984, when depreciation of the currency gained momentum. By February 1985, it was trading over R 2 per dollar, and in July that year, all foreign exchange trading was suspended for three days to try to stop the depreciation.
By the time that State President P. W. Botha made his Rubicon speech on 15 August 1985, it had weakened to R 2.40 per dollar. The currency recovered somewhat between 1986–88, trading near the R 2 level most of the time and even breaking beneath it sporadically. The recovery was short-lived, however, and by the end of 1989, the Rand was trading at levels more than R 2.50 per dollar.
As it became clear in the early 1990s that the country was destined for black majority rule and one reform after the other was announced, uncertainty about the future of the country hastened the depreciation until the level of R 3 to the dollar was breached in November 1992. A host of local and international events influenced the currency after that, most notably the 1994 democratic election which had it weaken to over R 3.60 to the dollar, the election of Tito Mboweni as the new governor of the South African Reserve Bank, and the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki in 1999 which had it quickly slide to over R 6 to the dollar. The controversial land reform program that was kicked off in Zimbabwe, followed by the September 11, 2001 attacks, propelled it to its weakest historical level of R 13.84 to the dollar in December 2001.
This sudden depreciation in 2001 led to a formal investigation, which in turn led to a dramatic recovery. By the end of 2002, the currency was trading under R 9 to the dollar again, and by the end of 2004 was trading under R 5.70 to the dollar. The currency softened somewhat in 2005, and was trading around R 6.35 to the dollar at the end of the year. At the start of 2006, however, the currency resumed its rally, and as of 19 January 2006, was trading under R 6 to the dollar again. However, during the second and third quarters of 2006 (i.e. April through September), the Rand weakened significantly.
In sterling terms, it fell from around 9.5p to just over 7p, losing some 25% of its international trade-weighted value in just six months. Late in 2007, the Rand rallied modestly to just over 8p, only to experience a precipitous slide during the first quarter of 2008.
This downward slide could be attributed to a range of factors: South Africa's worsening current account deficit, which widened to a 36‑year high of 7.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007; inflation at a five-year high of just under 9%; escalating global risk aversion as investors' concerns over the spreading impact of the subprime crisis grew; and a general flight to "safe havens", away from the perceived risks of emerging markets. The Rand depreciation was exacerbated by the Eskom electricity crisis, which arose from the utility being unable to meet the country's rapidly growing energy demands.
A stalled mining industry in late 2012 led to new lows in early 2013. In late January 2014, the Rand slid to R11.25 to the dollar, with analysts attributing the shift to "word from the US Federal Reserve that it would trim back stimulus spending, which led to a massive sell-off in emerging economies." In 2014 South Africa experienced its worst year against the US dollar since 2009, and in March 2015, the Rand traded at its worst since 2002. At the time, Trading Economics released data that the Rand "averaged R4.97 to the dollar between 1972 and 2015, reaching an all time high of R12.45 in December of 2001 and a record low of R0.67 in June of 1973." By the end of 2014, the Rand had weakened to R 15.05 per dollar, partly due to South Africa's consistent trade account deficit with the rest of the world.
From 9 December 2015 to 13 December 2015, over a four-day period, the Rand dropped over 10% due to what some suspected was President Zuma's surprise announcement that he would be replacing the then-Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with the little-known David van Rooyen. The rapid drop in value was stemmed when the President back-tracked and announced that the better-known previous Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, would instead be appointed to the post. Zuma's surprise firing of Nene damaged international confidence in the Rand, with it experiencing significant exchange volatility throughout much of January 2016, reaching an all-time low of R 17.9169 to the US dollar on the 9 January 2016 before rebounding to R 16.57 later the same day.
The January drop in value was also partly caused by Japanese retail investors cutting their losses in the currency to look for higher-yield investments elsewhere and due to concerns over the impact of the economic slowdown in China, South Africa's largest export partner. By mid-January, economists were speculating that the Rand could expect to see further volatility for the rest of 2016. By 29 April, it reached its highest performance over the previous 5 months, exchanging at a rate of 14.16 to the United States dollar 
Following the United Kingdom's (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU), the Rand dropped in value over 8% against the United States dollar on the 24th June 2016, the currency's largest single-day decline since the 2008 crash. This was partly due to a general global financial retreat from currencies seen as risky to the US dollar and partly due to concerns over how the UK's withdrawal from the EU would impact South Africa's economy and trade relations.
In April 2017, a Reuters poll estimated that the Rand would remain relatively stable for the rest of the year, as two polls found that analysts had already factored in a possible downgrade to "junk" status. At the time, Moody's graded South Africa two notches above junk status. When president Jacob Zuma narrowly won a motion of no-confidence in South Africa in August 2017, the Rand continued to slide, dropping 1.7 percent that day. In September 2017, Goldman Sachs Group said that the debt and corruption of Eskom Holdings was the biggest risk to South Africa's economy and exchange rate of the Rand. At the time it had no permanent CEO, and Colin Coleman of Goldman Sachs in Africa said the company was "having discussions on solutions" on finding credible management. In October 2017, the Rand firmed against the US dollar as it recovered from a six-month low. Reuters noted that "South Africa is highly susceptible to global investor sentiment as the country relies on foreign money to cover its large budget and current account deficits." On November 13, 2017, the Rand "tumbled" over a full percent when the budget chief Michael Sachs stood down from his position in Zuma's administration.
Coins were introduced in 1961 in denominations of 1⁄2, 1, 2 1⁄2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. In 1965, 2-cent coins replaced the 2 1⁄2-cent coins. The 1⁄2-cent coin was last struck for circulation in 1973. The 2-Rand coin was introduced in 1989, followed by 5-Rand coins in 1994. Production of the 1- and 2-cent coins was discontinued in 2002, primarily due to inflation having devalued them, but they remain legal tender. Shops normally round the total purchase price of goods to the nearest 10 cents (in favour of the consumer).
In an effort to curb counterfeiting, a new 5-Rand coin was released in August 2004. Security features introduced on the coin include a bimetal design (similar to the €1 and €2 coins, the Thai 10-baht coin, the British £2 coin, and the Canadian $2 coin), a specially serrated security groove along the rim and microlettering.
The first series of Rand banknotes was introduced in 1961 in denominations of 1-, 2-, 10-, and 20-Rand, with similar designs and colours to the preceding pound notes to ease the transition. They bore the image of what was believed at the time to be Jan van Riebeeck, the first V.O.C. administrator of Cape Town. It was later discovered that the image was not in fact Van Riebeeck at all. Like the last pound notes, they were printed in two variants, one with English written first and the other with Afrikaans written first.
In 1966, a second series was released with designs which moved away from the previous pound notes. Notes with denominations of 1-, 5- and 10-Rand were produced with predominantly one colour per note. A 2-Rand note was introduced later in 1974. The 20-Rand denomination from the first series was dropped. All notes bore the image of Jan van Riebeeck. The practice of having an English and an Afrikaans version of each note was continued in this series.
The 1978 series began with denominations of 2-, 5-, 10- and 20-Rand, with a 50-Rand introduced in 1984. This series had only one language variant for each denomination of note. Afrikaans was the first language on the 2-, 10-, and 50-Rand, while English was the first language on the 5- and 20-Rand. The 1-Rand note was replaced by a coin.
In the 1990s, the notes were redesigned with images of the Big Five wildlife species. 10-, 20- and 50-Rand notes were introduced in 1992 & 1993, retaining the colour scheme of the previous issue. Coins were introduced for the 2- and 5-Rand, replacing the notes of the previous series, mainly because of the severe wear and tear experienced with low-denomination notes in circulation. In 1994, 100- and 200-Rand notes were introduced.
The 2005 series has the same principal design, but with additional security features such as colour-shifting ink on the 50-Rand and higher and the EURion constellation. The obverses of all denominations were printed in English, while two other official languages were printed on the reverse, thus making use of all 11 official languages of South Africa.
In 2011, the South African Reserve Bank issued 100-Rand banknotes which were defective because they lacked fluorescent printing visible under UV light. In June, printing of this denomination was moved from the South African Bank Note Company to Crane Currency’s Swedish division (Tumba Bruk), which reportedly produced 80 million 100-Rand notes. The South African Reserve Bank shredded 3.6 million 100-Rand banknotes printed by Crane Currency because they had the same serial numbers as a batch printed by the South African Bank Note Company. In addition, the notes printed in Sweden were not the correct colour, and they were 1 mm short.
On 11 February 2012, President Jacob Zuma announced that the country would be issuing a new set of banknotes bearing Nelson Mandela's image. They were entered into circulation on 6 November 2012. These contained the same denominations of 10-, 20-, 50-, 100- and 200-Rand.
In 2018, it was announed that a new set of bank notes would be released commemorating what would have been Nelson Mandela's centennial year. This series would include notes of all denominations, 10-, 20-, 50-, 100- and 200-Rand. These notes would circulate alongside the existing notes.
|Banknotes of the South African Rand (1961 First Issue)|
|1 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck||Lion from coat of arms||Brown||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|2 Rand||Lion from coat of arms||Blue||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|10 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck's sailing ship||Green||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|20 Rand||Gold mine||Purple||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|Banknotes of the South African Rand (1966 Second Issue)|
|1 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck and protea||Farming and agriculture||Brown||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|2 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck, Cape Dutch architecture and vines||Gariep Dam, pylon and maize cob||Blue||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|5 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck, Voortrekker Monument and Great Trek||Mining||Purple||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|10 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck, Union Buildings and springbok||Jan van Riebeeck's three ships||Green||Afrikaans/English, English/Afrikaans|
|Banknotes of the South African Rand (1978 Third Issue)|
|2 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck and pylon||Sasol coal to oil refinery||Blue||Afrikaans, English|
|5 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck and diamonds||Mining and Johannesburg city centre||Purple||English, Afrikaans|
|10 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck and protea||Agriculture||Green||Afrikaans, English|
|20 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck, Cape Dutch architecture and vines||Jan van Riebeeck's three ships and South African Coat of Arms||Brown||English, Afrikaans|
|50 Rand||Jan van Riebeeck and lion||Fauna and flora||Red||Afrikaans, English|
|Banknotes of the South African Rand (1992 Fourth Issue "Big Five")|
|10 Rand||Rhinoceros||Agriculture||Green||Afrikaans, English||128×70|
|20 Rand||Elephants||Mining||Brown||English, Afrikaans||134×70|
|50 Rand||Lions||Manufacturing||Red||Afrikaans, English||140×70|
|100 Rand||Cape buffaloes||Tourism||Blue||English, Afrikaans||146×70|
|200 Rand||Leopards||Transport and communication||Orange||Afrikaans, English||152×70|
|Banknotes of the South African Rand (2005 Fifth Issue "English & Other Official Languages")|
|10 Rand||Rhinoceros||Agriculture||Green||English, Afrikaans, Swati||128×70|
|20 Rand||Elephants||Mining||Brown||English, Southern Ndebele, Tswana||134×70|
|50 Rand||Lions||Manufacturing||Red||English, Venda, Xhosa||140×70|
|100 Rand||Cape buffaloes||Tourism||Blue||English, Northern Sotho, Tsonga||146×70|
|200 Rand||Leopards||Transport and communication||Orange||English, Sotho, Zulu||152×70|
|Banknotes of the South African Rand (2012 Sixth Issue "Nelson Mandela")|
|10 Rand||Nelson Mandela||Rhinoceros||Green||English, Afrikaans, Swati||128×70|
|20 Rand||Elephants||Brown||English, Southern Ndebele, Tswana||134×70|
|50 Rand||Lions||Red||English, Venda, Xhosa||140×70|
|100 Rand||Cape buffaloes||Blue||English, Northern Sotho, Tsonga||146×70|
|200 Rand||Leopards||Orange||English, Sotho, Zulu||152×70|
|Current ZAR exchange rates|
|From Google Finance:||AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR|
|From Yahoo! Finance:||AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR|
|From XE:||AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR|
|From OANDA:||AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR|
|From fxtop.com:||AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD INR|
South African pound
Ratio: 2 rand = 1 South African pound = 1 British pound
|Currency of South Africa
|Currency of South West Africa
1961 – 1990
Note: administered by/occupied by South Africa since 1915
|Currency of Namibia
1990 – 1993
|Legal tender in Namibia
Reason: withdrawal from Common Monetary Area
Ratio: at par
Note: dollar introduced in 1993, with South African rand remaining legal tender
|Currency of Basutoland
1961 – 1966
|Currency of Lesotho
1966 – 1980
|Legal tender in Lesotho
Note: loti introduced in 1980, with South African rand remaining legal tender
|Currency of Swaziland
1961 – 1974
|Legal tender in Swaziland
1974 – 1986
|Circulates in Swaziland
Note: lilangeni introduced in 1974. South African rand continues to circulate unofficially
|Currency of Bechuanaland Protectorate
1961 – 1966
|Currency of Botswana
1966 – 1976
Reason: creation of independent currency