5 Interesting Facts About the Zambian Kwacha

Last updated on October 10th, 2023 at 10:52 pm

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The Zambian kwacha is the legal tender in Zambia. It is also known by the official currency code “ZMW” and is more commonly indicated by the symbol “K” before the amount. Each kwacha can be subdivided into 100 ngwees (“N”).

The Central Bank of Zambia issues this currency in the form of coins and banknotes.

Coin denominations:

  • 5, 10, and 50 ngwee
  • 1 kwacha

Banknote denominations:

  • 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 kwacha

Read on to discover more interesting facts about Zambia and the Zambian Kwacha.

Zambian Kwacha

5 Facts About the Zambian Kwacha

Here is a closer look at some interesting, fun facts you might not know about the Zambian Kwacha.

1. The Zambian kwacha was born in the 1960s.

The Republic of Zambia came into being on October 24, 1964. For about 70 years prior to that, the area (which was known at the time as Northern Rhodesia) had been under British control, and the British pound had been used as currency.

In 1967, the kwacha was introduced to replace the pound and has been the country’s legal tender ever since.

2. The Central Bank of Zambia issued its first paper banknotes in 1968.

In 1968, the Central Bank of Zambia issued the first paper banknotes of the kwacha. They only printed five denominations at the time: 50 ngwee and 1, 2, 10, and 20 kwacha.

In the 1980s, the bank introduced 100 and 500 kwacha banknotes. In 1996, the 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; and 50,000 kwacha were also put into circulation in response to rapid inflation.

In 2013, Zambia “rebased” its currency, dividing denominational values by 1,000. The old currency was replaced by new bills and coins. A 5,000-kwacha bill, for example, became equivalent to 5 new kwachas.

3. Copper is important to the kwacha’s value.

Copper plays a massive role in Zambia’s economy. As the prices and demand for exported copper have fluctuated over time, so too has the value of Zambia’s currency. In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, when copper prices were low, the Zambian kwacha rapidly lost value. In recent years, as the demand for copper has risen, so has the value of the kwacha.

4. The currency featured the president, then an eagle.

In 1964, Kenneth Kaunda became the first president of Zambia, and he remained in power until 1991. During his presidency, his portrait was on all Zambian currency.

After he left office in 1991, the currency was updated. Kaunda’s likeness was removed and replaced with an African fish eagle. The fish eagle is symbolic of the country’s pride, its focus on economic growth, and its “ability to rise above challenges.”

5. Zambia led Africa in printing polymer banknotes.

In 2003, Zambia became the first African nation to print polymer banknotes. Polymer is much more durable than paper, and it’s also easier to add enhanced security features to prevent counterfeiting with polymer printing materials.

Exchange Rate of the Zambian Kwacha

To see the current exchange rate between Zambian kwacha and U.S. dollars, check out today’s rate with Remitly.

About Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country located in southern Africa. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north; Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique to the east; Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to the south; and Angola to the west.

The region has an exceptionally long history. The first known group of inhabitants, the Khoisans, are thought to have arrived in what is now Zimbabwe around 150,000 years ago.

Today Zambia is home to over 18 million people. Its largest city, Harare, has a population of about 1.5 million, and its capital is Lusaka.

In addition to copper, Zambia’s resources include other minerals (such as cobalt), wildlife, forests, freshwater, and farmland.

Zambian Kwacha

Sending Money to Zambia

You can send money to Zambia with Remitly. New customers may be eligible for a special offer on their first transfer. If you have friends or relatives in Zambia you would like to send money to, you can now do it with minimal fees and maximum security.

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