What is the Currency of Mauritius?

By Joyce Chepkemoi on August 1 2017 in Economics

The Mauritian coat of arms on the Mauritian rupee coin.

The Mauritian Rupee is the official currency of Mauritius and is known in international money markets through the code MUR. The Rupee is made up of 100 subunits of cents. The currency is issued by the Bank of Mauritius in the form of coinage as well as banknotes. The coins are minted in 20, 10, 5, 1, and half Rupee denominations as well as the rarely used 20 and 5 cent denominations. Banknotes are issued in 2000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, and 25 Rupee denominations. The Mauritian Rupee was introduced in 1877 and replaced the Mauritian Dollar at half the value and was pegged on the Indian Rupee at par. The country has had other currencies used as official legal tender throughout its history including the Dutch Guilder, the French Colonial Livre, and the Mauritian Dollar.

The Dutch Guilder

Mauritius became a Dutch colony in 1638 and was used as a refreshing station of Dutch shipping while sailing to Asia. During this period, the Dutch guilder was used as the official currency in the island for the purpose of trade. The Dutch guilder was minted by the County of Holland in silver coins. One guilder was made up of 100 subunits of cents. However, the Dutch occupation on the island was brief, plagued by droughts, cyclones, and tropical diseases and the Dutch ended up abandoning Mauritius in 1710.

The French Colonial Livre

In 1715, Mauritius along with other surrounding islands, was placed under French colonial control and effectively became known as the Isle de France. During this period, France had grown to become the biggest maritime trading country in Europe with its global exports being valued at 25 million pounds. Therefore, the island Mauritius and its largest city, Port Louis became a major trading center in the Indian Ocean trade with slavery being a major economic activity in the island. The French colonial government issued livre to Isle de France to be used as the official currency for domestic and international trade in the colony. The French Colonial Livre was issued in banknotes, and it was made up of subunits known as sous where 20 sous were equivalent to 1 livre. The currency was circulated all over Mauritius until 1820 when it was replaced by the Mauritian dollar.

The Mauritian Dollar

Mauritius was placed under British Rule after the British captured the island on December 3rd, 1810 and officially became a British colony after the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1814 with the island being known as the Crown Colony of Mauritius. The Mauritian Dollar was introduced in the island in 1820 by the imperial government based in London as a replacement of the French Colonial Livre. The Mauritian Dollar was minted in coinage and was struck in a sixteenth, an eighth, a half, and a quarter dollar denominations on silver coins. The currency was also known as the anchor dollar due to the presence of an anchor on their faces. The government issued more Mauritian Dollars in the 1820s with the introduction of copper coins in 1822. The Mauritian Dollar was initially pegged onto the Indian Rupee but was later pegged onto the sterling shilling with one Mauritian Dollar being equivalent to four sterling shillings. The Mauritian Dollar was replaced by the Mauritian Rupee in 1877.

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