The South African Rand is the official currency of South Africa. The name “Rand” is taken from “Witwatersrand” (translates as “white waters ridge”) which is a low, sedimentary range of hills that runs through Gauteng province in South Africa where a high volume of gold deposits has been found. The Rand’s currency code is “ZAR” which is an acronym for the Dutch “Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand” (South African Rand). Its symbol is “R”; it is further divided into 100 cents, the symbol for which is “c”. The rand is also legal tender in other countries like Swaziland, Lesotho, and Namibia.
Introduction of the rand happened in February 14, 1961 during the same year that South Africa declared independence from British rule. It became the replacement for the South African pound which was the legal tender prior to 1961 at a rate of 2 rands for every pound, or 10 shillings for every rand.
Rand coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1, 2, 5 rand. To reduce counterfeiting, an R5 coin was issued in August of 2004. Among the security features included are a bi-metal composition, a uniquely serrated groove situation around the rim, as well as micro-lettering.
Rand notes in current circulation come in 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 rand denominations. The 1st series released in 1961 were 1, 2, 10, and 20 denomination notes that featured a portrait of Jan Van Riebeeck, who is the Dutch colonial administrator who established Cape Town in 1652. In 1978-84 denominations came in 2, 5, 10, 20, as well as 50 rand with a change in design but still bore the Jan Van Riebeeck image. Changes in the design of the notes took place in the 1990s with representations of the wildlife species.
The 2005 note series came with security features like color shifting ink and the constellation of EURion. The facade of the notes is in English; the reverse side, though, shows the other ten South African languages – enabling all 11 South African languages to be showcased. In 2010, South African banks made a withdrawal of all R200 banknotes from the 1990 series because of the high circulation of counterfeit notes.
A rand was valued at more than 1 US dollar when it was first issued back in 1961. In 1982 political pressure and sanctions placed against the country because of apartheid started to erode its value. Today 1 USD is equivalent to 7.06 ZAR at current rating.