What Is the Currency of Tunisia?
Tunisia is a former French colony in North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara desert. The country’s economy heavily relies on exports in agriculture and oil, with the GDP averaging 5% growth since the 1990’s. To cater to the demands of the expanding economy, the banking sector, through controls by the central bank, has developed and managed to create a stable financial sector for the country. The official currency in Tunisia is the Tunisian dinar, introduced in 1960 to replace the Tunisian franc. It is denoted in Arabic as دينار, coded as TND, and subdivided into 1000 millime. The Tunisian government has criminalized the import and export of the dinar. Currency conversion has also been limited to 6000 Tunisian dinars every year. Remarkably, prices at the duty-free shops are made in terms of foreign currencies such as the United States dollar, British pound, and euro.
History of the Tunisian Dinar
The Tunisian dinar was introduced in 1960 to replace of the Tunisian franc, which had been the official currency. The currency obtained its name from the Roman denarius, used in the antic territory of Carthage, which is the present day Tunisia. As a former French colony, it was expected that the currency would be devalued against the French franc, but the dinar was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 1:1.90. Historically, Tunisia has experienced a low rate of inflation compared to neighboring countries, making the dinar less volatile.
Tunisian dinar coins were introduced in 1960 in several denominations, including 1, 2 and 5 millime coins made from aluminum, and 10, 20, 50 and 100 millime coins made from brass. By 1990, the 1 and 2 millime coins had lost value and were no longer accepted as legal tender in Tunisia. In 1968, ½ dinar coins minted from nickel were introduced, but were replaced with cupro-nickel coins in 1976. In the same year, the 1 dinar coin came into existence. In 2002, bi-metallic 5-dinar coins were introduced, with the latest issue of the Tunisian dinar being in 2013, when the 200 millime and 2 dinar coins were added to the currency list.
Tunisian dinar banknotes were first issued by the Central Bank of Tunisia in denominations of ½ and 5 dinars in November 1958. The denominations of the Tunisian dinar have been changed in five phases, with the last being done in 2011. In addition to the two denominations are the 30, 50 and 10 dinar notes, introduced in 1997, 2008, and 2005, respectively. The obverse side of the notes bears the portraits of different legends, while the reverse bears portraits of landmarks and economic activities of the Tunisians.
Popular Currency Naming
In day to day transactions, Tunisians do not use the dinar to quote prices. For prices below 2 dinars, they use khomstach en miya, while the 50 dinar is known as the khamsin alf. The former franc currencies are sometimes referred to in a convention of 1000 francs denoting a single dinar. However, the franc is never used as legal tender, but can be obtained from the Central Bank of Tunisia as souvenirs.