World Currency: Mergers and Dissolutions


A Currency unit is the elementary entity of any monetary system that is applicable for a valid duration in any state. Every country follows its own system. While most nations have one unit as the basic monetary currency, few like Japan (100 yen) and Hungary (100 forints) have 100 together forming one unit.

Trade between nations is bound by currency relations. One unit of a country might have a very different value compared to that of another. 1 US Dollar could buy around 58 Indian Rupee or only 6.3 Swedish Krona on a given day in the year 2013.

Many friendly nations bound by geography have discussed and implemented merger of currencies to favour trade and increase the power of theWorld-Currency-symbols currency. In 13th century the Italian regions of Bologna and Ferraro made currency mergers. From 1873 up to 1921, the Scandinavian countries had a common currency. France made several attempts to bring several other European regions to join its currency. That Latin currency ended in 1960s.

Finally when the common European currency Euro came into existence in 2002, several currencies went out of use. Austrian Schilling, Belgian, Luxembourgian and French Franc, Dutch Guilder, Estonian Kroon, Finnish Marrkka, Cypriot and Irish Pound, Spanish Peseta, Portuguese Escudo, Slovak Krona, Slovenian Tolar, Maltese and Italian Lira, the German Mark and the Greek Drachma became history along with a few others. Many resisted the Euro and still exist. Bulgarian Lev, Polish Zloty, Sterling Pound, Latvian Lats and Czech Koruna are among them. The economic turmoil had created a situation where the Drachma was on the verge of being thrown out of Euro into re-existence but the European Bank helped retain Greece.

The Euro was conceptualized to be a stable alternate to the US Dollar and a world standard among currencies and that hope helps it to have a sustained life.

In South Asia also there have been tangential talks of a common Rupee. Many in Pakistan think that the move could be business friendly even in the presence of an arch Rival. The Sri Lankan and the Nepalese currency have the same name Rupee. The chances of this merger is however remote. The term Rupee comes from the Hindustani term Rupya which in turn comes from the Sanskrit term ‘Rupyakam’ broadly derived from Rupa (Silver). In spite of vast geographic and linguistic diversity, the term Rupa and Rupya hold their sway in the Indian subcontinent. The only alternate term Taka (Currency of Bangladesh) and the term used in Bengal comes from the Hindi word Tanaka or money. The other derivatives used are Tonka (in Oriya) and Toka (in Assamese) or T’Ka used in parts of Rajasthani communities. Rupee however is the standard official and unofficial word of choice in India.

The erstwhile USSR had Rouble as the common currency with 100 Kopeks making one Rouble. The word Rouble is from Slavic Rubit implying a standard part chopped off from a silver ingot. When USSR broke up, several independent nations reverted to their original currencies. The Azerbaijani currency Manat is made of 100 qapiks. The term Manat comes from the Russian term for money. Turkmenistan also uses the term Manat which is made of 100 Tetri.  Georgia uses the currency Lari now but in ancient Georgia, the terms used were Maneti or Abazi. Armenia still uses Roubli.

Uzbekistan uses Som (Saum). The Turkik speaking Central Asian countries use the term Som or Sum meaning ‘Pure’ as an euphemism for Gold.

The Gulf countries mostly use Dinar or Rial/Riyal. Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Serbia, Macedonia and Tunisia use Dinar or Denar as their currency. The term is of Greek and Byzantine origin. Gold coins were known as Dinaria Auri in medieval Turkey. Previously Irani Rials used Dinar as a subunit. One Rial equalled 1250 Dinars. Yemeni Dinars were replaced by the currently used Yemeni Rials. The Irani Rial however has fallen on bad times recently. Currently in Iran the Toman is unofficially being used as currency. In 1932 Toman was replaced by Rial. One Toman equals 10 Rials. Oman uses Riyal as the currency. In Morrocco Rial was used between 1882 and 1900s and it was subdivided into 10 dirhams. It was replaced by the Spanish Peseta. The Dirham has been given the respect as a standard currency in the United Arab Emirates.

In the Spanish Speaking Latin America, most countries have their currency named as Peso divided into 100 centavos or centimos (Argentina, Mexico, Chile). Few like El Salvador and Ecuador use the US influences Dolares. Guatemala uses Quetzal. The Portuguese influence Brazil uses Real (gold) which is subdivided into Centavos (hundredths). Being a rising power the currency of Brazil has started to show signs of dominant nature in the region.

Meanwhile China is pressing hard to keep its Renminbi undervalued. Japanese Yen is stable and as an economic powerhouse, South Korea has a provided stability to Won. Under Chinese rule the Tibetan region has lost its trademark currency terms. In ancient Tibet, currency was relatively unknown but built due to trade with Nepal, India and Kazhakistan. Gold Ingots (Gher Sho) and Silver Ingots (Sycee) were used as currency before the Renminbi was thrust upon the Tibetans.

Though trade and political dominance plays a dominant role in determining the currency of a region, historic terms like Toman (In Iran) and Peso (gone from Spain but rules in South America) still invoke strong passions. Though the Greek economy is down, the non-existent Drachma still has a larger than life value. The Rupee is repositioning itself with a new Symbol to enter into an elite group of powerful currencies like the Yen, Euro and Dollar, which it believed it rightfully deserves. The Swiss Franc still reminds something to the French. The Rouble is not dead and the Krona is still a popular term in Scandinavia and beyond.

The sentimental value of a currency cannot be measured. If you gain an interest in numismatics, chances are that you will value the possession of an old currency. These currency are worth what money cannot buy.

Random quotes /stanzas of poem on money

The value of the Dollar is social as it is created by Society- Railph W EMERSON

When the Euro was born, it was born in the wrong economic circumstances- John Major

Hindi Poem by Rahim

bade badayi na karein…
bade na bole bol..
rahiman hira kab kahe..
lakh t’ka mora mol rahimaa..
lakh t’ka mora mol…

– one who is truly great never indulge in self-praise. A diamond never says it is worth Millions

One thought on “World Currency: Mergers and Dissolutions

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Thai Baht is also derived from the Thai word for Silver

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