What is the Currency of Armenia?

By Joseph Kiprop on September 23 2019 in Economics

The Armenian dram.
The Armenian dram.

The dram is the recognized monetary unit in circulation in Armenia. The term "dram," when translated into English, means "money.” It stands cognate with dirham in Arabic as well as drachma in Greek, and one dram is made up of has 100 luma. The pre-history of a dram currency dates back to 1199 to 1375, a period during which silver coins referred to as dram circulated. The nation's noted artists and scientists and historical and cultural monuments are drawn on Armenian banknotes.


Armenia became an independent republic on September 21, 1991. On March 27, 1993, the newly created Central Bank of Armenia was granted the crucial mandate to issue the national currency. Several states cooperated to found a confederation dubbed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) after the fall of the Soviet Union. CIS countries supported the introduction and circulation of the Russian ruble as a unified currency. Armenia joined the confederation, but the uncertain economic and political situation made it problematic to sustain a common currency. The 1993 Russian monetary reform triggered the collapse of the ruble zone. The rest of the CIS states had no other choice but to introduce individual currencies. On November 22, 1993, Armenia made monetary strides by issuing the dram.


The inaugural series of the currency coins circulated from 1994 to 2002. The aluminum coins featured denominations of 1, 3, 5, and 10 drams in addition to 10, 20, and 50 luma. The 10-dram coin is the only one currently in use. Although the other denominations circulate officially, they are hardly used due to their low nominal value. New denominations were released in 2003 and 2004 made up of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 as well as 500 dram coins. Printed on the coins is the particular year they were first initially rolled out.


The introductory series of the dram's banknotes was rolled out in 1993. The notes consisted of the denominations 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, as well as 500 dram. Banknotes for 1000 and 5000 dram were subsequently released. The series was withdrawn by 2006. Notes of 50, 100, and 500 drams are barely used and are thus scarcely in circulation. In the notes’ place, 50, 100, and 500 dram coins are preferred. On June 4, 2001, a 50,000 dram note was dispensed to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the acceptance of Christianity in the nation. The new banknotes boast a higher protection level than that of the earlier notes. The current banknotes of the dram are designed by experts drawn from England and Germany.


The Armenian dram enjoys circulation in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The Republic lies in South Caucasus, and it remains unrecognized. Although the UN identifies the area to be Azerbaijan's territory, it is administered by ethnic Armenian separatists. In 2005, the Republic launched the Nagorno-Karabakh dram to circulate jointly with the Armenian dram. Banknotes and coins with denominations between 50 luma to 10 drams were issued. The Nagorno-Karabakh dram enjoys official status as legal tender in Armenia as well as in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh dram has its notes and coins mainly sold as souvenirs due to their low nominal values. The only currency the Armenian dram is pegged with is the dram of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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