What is the Currency of Kiribati?

By Chelangat Faith on August 1 2017 in Economics

Australian banknotes.


Previously before the country of Kiribati attained independence, the Australian coins were in circulation. Before the issuance of the Australian dollar, the Australian pound was mainly issued through the island.At the same time, Gilbert and Elice islands notes were still in circulation and one could exchange them with the sterling pound. Earlier, the island was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War and the oceanic pound was used in all bank notes issued by the Japanese government. This Japanese currency was intended to be a universal currency belonging to all the Pacific areas. After independence in 1979, the government of Kiribati advocated for the production of coins to mark a period of political freedom. People were very eager to use their local coins rather than the Australian dollar. Due to this, a 2 dollar coin was minted to substitute the dollar and mark the nation’s tenth anniversary.


The first series of coins were issued just after independence and were in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 1 dollar.All the coins are of the same size and weight except the 1 dollar and 50 cent coins. They were all minted from the same composition (cupronickel) except the 1 and 2 cents were minted from bronze. Similarly to the surrounding Pacific island states, the lower denominations are ranging from 1 to 20 cents and always share appearance and some features. The largest denominations are usually designed uniquely in each respective state. The 50 cent coin is modeled in a circular shape with reeded edges, very different from the twelve-sided Australian dollar. The Australian dollar and the 1 Kiribati dollar coins are similar in shape with each having 12 sides, only that the Kiribati dollar is smaller and weigh less than Kiribati.

A nickel brass 2 dollars were produced in 1989 marking the Kiribati’s 10th anniversary of freedom. The two dollar note was substituted by the circulation of the Australian 2 dollar coin in 1988.A lot of Kiribati coins are dated in 1979 to commemorate the country’s independence. Kiribati has ceased to circulate local coinage since the Australian coins are more popular and frequently used in highly populated states. Several coins have different images visualizing fauna and the flora of the country.

Bank notes

The first series of notes to be used in Kiribati was the Australian pound sterling bank notes launched in 1914, just after the Gilbert Island turned to a crown colony of Great Britain in 1916.The first local notes were introduced in 1942 with the mandate from the Gilbert and Elice government. These notes were locally minted with an inferior and austere model. These notes circulated with equivalence to the sterling pound and were produced in the denomination of (1, 2, 5, 10) shillings and 1 pound. They were later ceased and eliminated from circulation due to their unavailability created by invasion emergencies. The Australian dollar remained to be the official currency after replacing the pound notes. The Australian dollars used are in denominations of 1, 2, 5,10,20,50 and 100 dollars.

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