Known for the Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and incredible blend of cultures, Tanzania is a beautiful place to visit or call home. Tanzania, or more officially, The United Republic of Tanzania, uses the Tanzanian shilling as their form of currency. Knowing more about Tanzanian money gives interesting insights into this East African country’s history and culture. It’s also plenty useful for traveling to Tanzania or sending money there from abroad.
The Tanzanian shilling, coded as TZS, is issued by the Central Bank of Tanzania, or the Benki Kuu Ya Tanzania, as it is referred to in Swahili.
The Tanzanian shilling comes in both banknotes and coins in the following denominations:
History of the Tanzanian Shilling
The Tanzanian shilling is a fairly modern currency. In 1966, it replaced the East African shilling after Tanganyika and Zanzibar united. Their union took place after both territories gained independence from Britain to form the Tanzania that we know today. The first Tanzanian coins were produced in the same year and showcased Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who was the first president of the newly formed nation.
Before 1966, you would also see the following currencies used in Tanzania:
- The Zanzibari ryal (used until 1908)
- The East African rupee (used from 1906 until 1921)
- The East African florin (used only in 1921)
- The Zanzibari rupee (used from 1908 until 1936)
- The East African shilling (used from 1921 until 1966)
5 Essential Facts about Tanzania’s Currency
Learning more about the shillings in Tanzania can give you insight into its practicality, culture, history, and economy.
1. Writing TZS Amounts
The Tanzanian shilling is written out uniquely, as compared to the way denominations for currency are written in other countries. You write out TZS amounts in this format: x/y. The x represents the number of shillings, and the y represents the number of senti.
As an example, if you wanted to express 50 TZS and 40 senti, it would be written out like this: 50/40.
2. Imagery on the Tanzanian Shilling
Tanzanian shillings are brightly colored and are representative of their country.
The lower currency amounts display important, historical political leaders, and the higher amounts display animals native to Tanzania.
- 500 TZS- Abeid Amani Karume
- 1000 TZS- Julius Kambarage Nyerere
- 2,000 TZS- a lion
- 5,000 TZS- a rhinoceros
- 10,000 TZS- an elephant
The banknotes described above are a part of the newest series that came out in 2011.
3. Differences in Coins
Another interesting aspect to take note of is the variety of materials that the coins are made of:
- 5 senti coin is bronze
- 20 senti is nickel-brass
- Half-shilling and one-shilling coins are cupro-nickel
These are all considered non-precious metals. Although these are the standard, Tanzania does produce gold and silver commemorative coins.
4. Alternatives to the Shilling in Tanzania
The Tanzanian shilling is the official currency of The United Republic of Tanzania. However, other currencies are widely accepted there. These currencies include the United States dollar and the euro. Many tourists coming from America and Europe do not necessarily need to exchange their money, which can sometimes be an expensive and tricky process.
Credit cards are also widely accepted in Tanzania, but only Visa and MasterCard. If you visit Tanzania, you will have access to 24 hour ATMs, but you could find them out of money or out of service. Carrying cash is the easiest way to ensure payment outside of larger cities or tourist areas.
5. TZS Depreciation
At the time of this writing, the Tanzanian shilling is depreciating. The depreciation of currency refers to money losing its value. The TZS is a floating currency, meaning it has a floating exchange rate with a value that depends on the supply, market and demand.
The Tanzanian shilling is depreciating due to a decline in international commodity prices for agricultural goods coming from Tanzania.
Understanding Tanzanian Currency Exchange Rates
You can find Tanzania’s current exchange rates according to the Tanzania Revenue Authority.
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