What is the Currency of the Maldives?

By Sharon Omondi on August 1 2017 in Economics

Maldivian rufiyaa coins and banknote.

What is the Currency of the Maldives?

The Maldives is a country located on the Indian Ocean composed of 26 atolls and more than 1,000 islands. The Maldivian rufiyaa is the country's official currency. Its name is derived from Sanskrit “rupya,” which means "wrought silver." The Maldivian rufiyaa carries the sign Rf and the code MRF, and is subdivided into 100 laari. The country's central bank, the Maldives Monetary Authority, is the only institution allowed to control the currency.

History of the Maldivian Rufiyaa

Historical reports and evidence show that during the 13th century cowry shells were used as a form of currency in the Maldives. Arab merchants, like Ibn Batuta, exported many ships loaded with cowry shells. Larin, which were half straps of silver wire put together and dyed, were used as means of exchange in the Maldives, areas around the Persian Gulf, and India since they all traded together.

Mohamed Thakurufaanu Al Auzum was the first leader in the history of the people of Maldives to imprint his seal on their currency. In addition, between 1648 and 1687, the (then) Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar brought coins to the Maldives as a form of exchange. The coins were minted in Malé, the capital and most populated city of Maldives. They were made of pure silver. In 1787, coins were made of gold, and between the 18th and 19th century coins were made of bronze. Researchers strongly believe that between 1900 and 1904, Sultan Imaadhudheen introduced the first machine ever to strike coins in the Maldives. It was also under his leadership that the last of these coins were minted in Birmingham, England in 1913. Subsequently, Maldivians started using the Ceylonese rupee and the rufiyaa as their currency in 1960.


The notes in denominations of ½, 1, 2, 5 and 10 rufiyaa were printed and circulated in September, 1948. The 50 and 100 rufiyaa notes were introduced in 1951, while the 500 rufiyaa note was first issued in 1990. Currently, notes used in the Maldives are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 rufiyaa. In order to commemorate the 50 years of Maldives independence in October 2015, the Maldives Monetary Authority released the 5,000 rufiyaa note.


The coins used today were first introduced in 1960 by the then Sultan Fareed I who ordered them from England. Sultan Fareed embellished the national emblem and the Arabic title of the Maldiveson on the reverse of the coins. The coins were in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 laari and started being circulated in the year 1961. Five years later, all previously traded coins were removed from circulation. In 1983, the Maldives Monetary Authority struck the 1 rufiyaa coin. The coin was produced in from West Germany and made of copper-nickel. In 1995, the 2 rufiyaa coins were first minted. The coins currently used in the Maldives are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 laari, and 1 and 2 rufiyaa.

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