11 Beautiful World Currencies

Last updated on April 3rd, 2024 at 04:27 pm

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While some countries keep their currency design simple, some nations can call their banknotes and coins everyday works of art. Here at Remitly, we’re experts in international money transfers, and we’re taking a closer look at some beautiful world currencies our customers use. They send money to loved ones who pick up cash as depicted in these photos—or who receive money on debit cards, in mobile wallets, and in bank accounts. Whatever the method, the currency itself remains a powerful symbol of national identity.

11 Beautiful World Currencies

The countries below exemplify this with their elaborate banknote designs. Here are eleven of the most beautiful currencies in the world.

Did we miss any?

1. Brazil

brazilian money brazil currency photo
(Image credit: Pixabay / Pexels)

On one side, the Brazilian real features the personification of its country and government, the Efígie da República—a young woman wearing a crown of bay leaves and a Phrygian cap.

The reverse showcases some of the country’s most notable fauna, including the great egret, jaguar, and golden lion tamarin. Brazil’s newest banknote was released earlier in 2020 and features the maned wolf. Cash remains big in Brazil, though the country has been at the forefront in Latin American currency markets in implementing digital payments with its popular Pix system.

2. Uganda

uganda money used for money transfer cash pickup with remitly
Image credit: Dreamstime

The Ugandan shilling’s design has changed frequently over the last 50 years, with its banknotes updated periodically to reflect changes in leadership. Its latest change, in May 2020, introduced new designs celebrating Uganda’s rich heritage, which draws from its traditional peoples and its British colonial history (cricket, anyone?).

Ugandan mat patterns, a map of the country, the Nile River, and Uganda’s Independence Monument appear on the shilling’s various denominations.

3. Malaysia

malaysia money
Image credit: Dreamstime

The Malaysian ringgit is notable for looking to the future. Its banknote designs center on Wawasan 2020, the vision put forth by Malaysia’s fourth and seventh Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. This idea envisioned Malaysia to become a prosperous and developed country by 2020.

The ringgit’s six denominations reflect this vision with imagery of various industries and economic symbols, like the Kuala Lumpur Tower, Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, and the Kelana Jaya rail transit line. Such images encapsulate Malaysia’s eye toward progress and modernization. Malaysia’s currency is one of several Southeast Asian currencies gaining importance in the global economy.

4. Mexico

mexico money
Image credit: Dreamstime

The Mexican peso has a long history and was in fact used as the benchmark for all North American currencies in the late 18th century. As if to acknowledge this, the peso’s latest series of banknotes depicts important figures and periods from Mexican history as well as the country’s different types of terrain. 

In 2018, the 500-peso bill was nominated by the International Bank Note Society for its prestigious Bank Note of the Year Award. While it ultimately lost to Canada, the note still deserves recognition for its design: the front features Benito Juárez, the first indigenous president of Mexico, and the reverse displays gray whales in the Biosphere Reserve of El Vizcaíno. Many remittance receivers still prefer to pick up peso notes like these from popular Mexican banks, but account-to-account money transfer to Mexico has grown rapidly in recent years.

5. South Africa

beautiful world money south african rand
Image credit: Dreamstime

South African money represents more than just money transfers, commerce, and banking. In the South African Reserve Bank’s words, “Banknotes serve not only as a medium of payment, but are a window on the country, its people, heritage, and culture. … [They] reflect the pride and aspirations of a nation and its people.” 

With that in mind, the South African rand comes in five distinct denominations, each featuring one of Africa’s Big Five game animals: a rhinoceros, elephant, lion, buffalo, and leopard. The banknotes are further distinguished by their unique colors and design elements representing different industries. 

6. Argentina

beautiful world currency argentina money peso
(Image credit: Maxi Gagliano / Pexels)

As a nod to the country’s fauna and flora, the Argentine peso’s most recent banknote series, released between 2016 and 2018, features birds, mammals, and natural landmarks. This series is unique because the front of the bills is vertical while the reverse is horizontal.

It’s also worth mentioning that Argentina’s 1,000-peso note was a contender for the International Bank Note Society’s Bank Note of the Year award in 2017. The note centers on the national bird, the Rufous hornero, and features both its claw print and habitat. Like other beautiful world currencies, Argentina’s money is a true reflection of its national identity.

7. India

indian money rupee on a clothesline
(Image credit: Disha Sheta / Pexels)

The latest banknote series of the Indian rupee is available in several colorful denominations, including lavender, magenta, and fluorescent blue. They each feature a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi as well as major cultural symbols like India’s Sun Temple and the Indian Space Research Organization’s Mars Orbiter Mission. Colorful rupees are a big part of Indian cultural celebrations from Diwali to Holi.

Indian rupee rates are a big part of the new global markets, reflecting India’s influence on the world’s culture more broadly, from the sport of cricket to global cuisine.

8. Nigeria

nigeria money beautiful world banknotes
(Image: Wikipedia)

The Nigerian naira is worth noting because of its novelty in featuring the signature of a woman—that of Priscilla Ekwere Eleje, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s first female Director of Currency Operations. Only one other Nigerian bill has ever featured some female representation: the 20-naira note and its image of renowned potter Ladi Kwali. 

Nigeria’s kobo coins are also beautiful in their own right. Elegant in their minimalism, each coin features an important natural or economic symbol that drive the economy, culture, and cuisine of Nigeria: peanuts, maize, palm trees, and oil derricks.

9. Canada

canada money for a money transfer
Image credit: Dreamstime

The International Bank Note Society recognized Canada’s 10-dollar bill in 2018, so it makes sense that it’d be on a list of beautiful world currencies.

This particular note carries a social justice theme, depicting Canadian civil rights activist Viola Desmond and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in a vertical format.

However, the Canadian dollar deserves special attention for not just its visual design, but also its material. Beginning in 2011, the Bank of Canada switched completely from paper banknotes to synthetic polymer—many other countries have only switched one or a few denominations. This makes Canadian dollars more environmentally friendly in the long run, outliving traditional paper currency. Canadian dollars are increasingly important in a globalized world, with skilled immigration to Canada on the rise.

10. Switzerland

(Image credit: Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash)

The multiple award-winning Swiss franc is the national currency of not just Switzerland but also Liechtenstein. Given the franc’s elegant design, no one can blame Liechtenstein for using it.  

The franc’s latest series of banknotes features hands in various gestures, and as a result, feel especially artful. For instance, the 10-franc note depicts a pair of hands conducting time with a baton.

11. Honduras

lempira banknote honduras money
Image credit: Dreamstime

Named after the 16th-century ruler of Honduras’ Lenca people, the Honduran lempira honors national heroes and places in its designs. Honduran banks issue this beautiful world currency from the country’s Atlantic coast to its highlands. Like other Central American nations from Nicaragua to Panama, Hondurans rely heavily on cash in everyday activities, making cash delivery one of the most popular methods for sending money overseas.

Lempira himself appears on the front of the one-lempira note. Meanwhile, the reverse shows the Mayan ball game known as pelota and the ruins of Copán, one of the Maya civilization’s major archaeological sites.