Your Guide to the Maldivian Rufiyaa

Last updated on October 8th, 2023 at 02:44 pm

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If you are working abroad and want to send money home to the Maldives — or if you plan to travel to the island nation — you may need to turn your USD, CAD, euros, or pounds into Maldivian rufiyaa.

To see the current rufiyaa-to-dollar exchange rate, check out today’s rate with Remitly.

The Maldivian rufiyaa is the official currency of the Republic of Maldives. It was introduced in 1947, replacing the Sri Lankan rupee. The rufiyaa’s currency code is MVR, and it is often written as “Rf.”

The currency is controlled by the Maldives Monetary Authority. Bills are printed by a company called De La Rue, and coins are minted by the Ministry of Finance. The rufiyaa is subdivided into 100 laari.

  • Banknotes in circulation are in the following denominations: Rf 5, Rf 10, Rf 20, Rf 50, Rf 100, and Rf 500. The Rf 1,000 and Rf 5,000 notes are also in circulation but are used more rarely.
  • Coins in circulation are in the following denominations: 25 laari, 50 laari, Rf 1, and Rf 2. One-, 2-, 5-, and 10-laari coins are in circulation but used less frequently.

As of this writing, 1 USD was equal to about 15 MVR, and 1 euro was equal to about 17 MVR.

Maldivian Rufiyaa

5 Interesting Facts About the Maldivian Rufiyaa

1. The rufiyaa was nominated for “Bank Note of the Year” in 2016.

The International Bank Note Society, a trade publication and group of people who collect and trade rare paper currency, nominated the 1,000-rufiyaa bill for its “Bank Note of the Year” contest. The theme of the bill (pictured above) is “The beauty in our surroundings.” The back depicts a whale shark (with an underprint that gives shading to its skin), and the front depicts a green turtle.

2. Shells were the first currency used in the Maldives.

Hundreds of years ago, the currency of the Maldives was cowrie shells. Historical travelers’ accounts indicate that shells were traded as currency as late as the 13th century.

Strips of silver called “larin” were later used as currency throughout the Persian Gulf, India, and countries in the Indian Ocean before coins were introduced in the 1600s.

Coins called “laari” were introduced in the 19th and 20th centuries.

3. Rufiyaa means “silver.”

The word “rufiyaa” is derived from the Sanskrit word “rupyakam,” meaning “silver coin.”

“Rupyakam” is a common base word for currency names in this part of the world, due to the influence of India. Other countries that call their currency “rupee” or similar include India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

4. Maldivian rufiyaa are printed in Europe.

Like many small countries around the world, the Maldives prints its currency abroad. Specifically, the Maldives has its money printed by a British printer called De La Rue. For a small island nation, the cost of printing bills domestically can often exceed the face value of the bills themselves. Thus, production is often supplemented with imports.

5. Rufiyaa notes feature scenes and symbols of the culture and history of the Maldives.

Since their most recent issuance in 2015, Rufiyaa banknotes have showcased the Maldives’ culture, sights, and history.

  • 5 Rf: This gray-and-red note features people playing football on the front and a conch shell on the back.
  • 10 Rf: This yellow-and-brown note features people playing traditional drums on the front and a more detailed image of the drum on the back.
  • 20 Rf: This pink-and-purple bill showcases fishermen catching skipjack tuna on the front and a “dhoni,” a traditional Maldivian boat, on the back.
  • 50 Rf: This green banknote shows men pulling boats from the beach onto the water on the front and the minaret of the Friday Mosque on the back.
  • 100 Rf: This red banknote features locals in traditional attire working on traditional crafts on the front and an early form of Maldivian writing called “Dhivehi scripture” on the back.
  • 500 Rf: This orange bill also displays locals building traditional crafts on the front (such as brooms) and a traditional hand-carved vase on the back.
  • 1,000 Rf: As mentioned above, this blue note features a green sea turtle on the front and a whale shark on the back.

About the Maldives

The Maldives is an island country in the north-central Indian Ocean, about 370 miles off the southwest coast of India. The archipelago consists of approximately 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks, of which about 200 are currently inhabited, grouped in clusters or atolls. The islands were formed from the crowns of a submerged, ancient volcanic mountain range, and all the islands are less than 10 feet above sea level (making the Maldives the flattest country in the world).

Nearly all the population belongs to the Maldivian ethnic group. More than half of the population of 540,000 lives in rural areas, and about a quarter of the country’s population lives in the capital city of Malé. Since the 1970s, the economy of the Maldives has developed rapidly, with tourism surpassing fishing as the primary source of GDP.

Maldivian Rufiyaa

Sending Money to the Maldives

You can send money to the Maldives with Remitly. New customers can get a special offer on their first transfer.

Further Reading

Visit Remitly for more information on popular Ramadan foods around the world, everything you need to know about inflation, and how to send money in your preferred language with the Remitly app.