What is the Currency of Tanzania?

By Sharon Omondi on August 1 2017 in Economics

Assorted Tanzanian shilling banknotes and coins.

The currency of Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling (shilingi in Swahili). It is written as TZS and can be sub-divided in 100 senti. The symbol of the Tanzanian shilling is TSh.

Tanzania is an East African nation which is famous for being home to the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro. The capital city of Tanzania is Dodoma. According to World Bank estimates, Tanzania has a population of 55.57 million people. In spite of the many local languages which exist, the official languages used in Tanzania are Swahili and English. The official languages, especially Swahili which is widely spoken, have been a unifying factor for the nation.


The Tanzanian shilling coins were introduced in 1966 as a replacement for the East African shilling. They came in denominations of 5, 20, and 50 senti, and 1 shilling. The 50 senti and 1 shilling coins were struck in cupro-nickel. On the contrary, the 5 and 20 senti were struck in bronze and nickel-brass, respectively. The 5 shilling coin was introduced in 1972, while the 10 senti was struck in 1977. The coins issued between 1966 and 1984 were designed by Christopher Ironside. At the moment, the coins used in Tanzania are denominated as 50, 100, 200, and 500 shillings. The 50 shilling coin was first issued in 1996, the 100 shilling issued in 1994, the 200 shilling minted in 1998, and the 500 shilling introduced in 2014. The government body that issues coins and banknotes in Tanzania is the Bank of Tanzania (Benki kuu ya Tanzania), which is its central bank.


The Bank of Tanzania issued the first shilling banknotes in 1966. They came in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 100 shillings. However, the central bank replaced the 5 shilling note by a coin in 1972. In 1985, 1986, 1989, and 1990 the Benki kuu ya Tanzania introduced 50, 200, 500, and 1,000 shilling notes, respectively. In addition, the 5,000 and 10,000 shilling notes were introduced in 1995, and the first 2,000 shilling notes were issued in 2003. Between 1987 and 1996, the central bank replaced the 10, 20, 50, and 100 shilling notes with coins. A new series of notes which included better security features were introduced in 2011. The shilling banknotes currently used in Tanzania currently are 500-, 1,000-, 2,000-, 5,000-, and 10,000 shillings.

Features of the Shilling Banknotes

The 500 shilling banknote is green in color. It has a portrait of Sheikh Amani Karume on the obverse, and the Tanzanian coat of arms on the reverse side of the note. The 1,000 shilling note, on the other hand, is blue. It has a portrait of Julius Nyerere, who was the first president of Tanzania when it gained independence. The 1,000 shilling note also has the Dar-es-Salaam statehouse portrait. The 2,000 shilling note is orange with portraits of a lion and palm trees. The 5,000 note is purple and features the black rhinocerous. The last bank note is the 10,000 shilling, which is red in color, and includes the Tanzanian coat of arms and the headquarters of Bank of Tanzania.

Exchange Rate Between TZS and USD

As of July 27, 2017 the exchange rate of between the US dollar and the Tanzanian shilling was 1 USD to 2,238.90 TZS.

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