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Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World. Photo KnowInsiders

Getting hold of the local currency is more than a means to spending when traveling. A country’s banknotes and coins are a key part of its national identity with a lot of careful consideration going into their design. We take a look at some of the most beautiful banknotes from around the world.

Top 25 Most Beautiful Currencies In The World


2.Argentina peso

3.Cambodian riel

4.Hong Kong dollar

5.Central Pacific franc

6.Myanmar kyat

7.Samoa tālā

8.Armenian dram

9.Swiss franc

10.Brunei dollar

11.South Africa

12.Cook Islands dollar

13.São Tomé and Príncipe dobra

14.Norwegian kroner

15.British pound: Alan Turing £50 note

16.Malaysan ringgit

17.Mexican peso

18.Costa Rican colón

19.Egyptian pound

20.Ugandan shillings

21.Canadian dollar

22.India rupee

23.Nigeria naira

24.New Zealand dollar

25.Australian dollar


Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World. What Are They?


Photo CoinsWeekly
Photo CoinsWeekly

“Attractive, secure and user-friendly” were the three adjectives used by the European national central bank governors to define the specifications for euro banknotes. The ECB Governing Council unveiled the winning designs of the European wide competition it had organised at the European Council meeting in Dublin on 13 December 1996. The winning series was entitled “Ages and styles of Europe” by Robert Kalina, graphic designer at the National Bank of Austria. These draft designs were then amended to incorporate the security features. In the spring of 1999, the technical specificities were finally approved by the European Central Bank and production began in the printing works of the euro area.

The second series of euro banknotes was launched on 2 May 2013, with the issuance of the new €5. Named “Europa” after the Greek princess whose portrait appears in the watermark, the series incorporates new security features designed to make the banknotes harder to counterfeit.

The new €5 and €10 notes from the series, designed by Reinhold Gerstetter, a freelance graphic artist from Berlin, were unveiled respectively on 10 January 2013 and 13 January 2014. The new €20 and €50 notes were unveiled respectively on 25 November 2015 and 4 April 2017.

2.Argentina peso

Photo Pexels
Photo Pexels

As a nod to the country’s fauna and flora, the Argentine peso’s most recent banknote series, released between 2016 and 2018, features birds, mammals, and natural landmarks. This series is unique because the front of the bills is vertical while the reverse is horizontal.

It’s also worth mentioning that Argentina’s 1,000-peso note was a contender for the International Bank Note Society’s Bank Note of the Year award in 2017. The note centers on the national bird, the Rufous hornero, and features both its claw print and habitat.

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3.Cambodian Riel

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Cambodian Riel

During the rule of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, commonly known as the Khmer Rouge, in the 1970s, Cambodia became the first country to abolish money. The Cambodian riel was then introduced in 1980 after the regime was toppled, but the country has since struggled to establish a solid and stable economy.

As part of a peacekeeping mission in 1992, $1.7 billion (£966m) flowed into Cambodia courtesy of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia and foreign investment in the country has been on the up and up ever since. The riel rode on the back of the dollar’s strength, to the extent that American money has since become Cambodia’s de facto currency.

More than four decades after its introduction, the government is pushing for the riel to once again become the predominant currency. In 2015 the National Bank of Cambodia unveiled a new strategy to encourage citizens to use riel and the country is currently going through a de-dollarization process that involves phasing out small denominations of US bills. Cambodia also launched its “Bakong” digital currency in October 2020, and it is one of only two central bank digital currencies in the world. As it stands, $1 is currently equivalent to 4,063.57 Cambodian riel.

4.Hong Kong Dollar

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Hong Kong Dollar

In Hong Kong, they seem to have gone just about as far as you can go, money-design wise. But then Hong Kong often seems to be cheerfully humming along in the 23rd century. It makes New York City feel kind of sleepy and slow. So the futuristic money fits perfectly. And as a practical matter, it’s an example of a trend in paper currency toward major-league complexity, the better to thwart would-be counterfeiters.

5.Central Pacific Franc

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Central Pacific Franc

Issued by the Institut d’Emission d’Outre Mer (IEOM), the Central Pacific franc is used in the Islands of Tahiti. Interestingly, its exchange rate with the euro never varies – it is permanently set at 100 Pacific francs to 0.838 euros. This pretty 500CPF note was part of a series of banknotes released in French Polynesia in 2014, where flora and fauna dominate the colourful design.

6.Myanmar Kyat

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Myanmar Kyat

Myanmar introduced a new currency note at the beginning of 2020 that bears the image of General Aung San. The new 1,000-kyat banknote has the portrait of the late national independence hero who was Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s father. The reverse of the note has an illustration of the country's vast parliament complex which is located in the new capital city of Naypyidaw.

7.Samoa Tālā

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Samoa Tālā

The bright and vibrant colors of Samoa’s note are so eye-catching and remarkably beautiful that it’s no wonder it won an award in 2008. Samoa’s design portrays one of the country’s majestic waterfalls, those of which often contribute to tourism. Samoa broke away from their traditional design of picturing famous peoples, by showing on the back of the note the beloved national bird, Manumea, as well as their national flower, Teulia.

This made it a favorite among the locals as well, who praised the new design for its attention to their beautiful country. The bill is adorned in striking gold, and complimented by colorful security features.

8.Armenian Dram

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
20000 Armenian dram Front

Armenia’s 50,000-dram note (around 104 USD) is in the row of the 2018 best banknotes in the world, IBNS reports on its website.

On the front side of the banknote Saint Gregory the Illuminator and ancient manuscripts are depicted, and on the reverse side Khor Virap Monastery; Mountain Ararat and the statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator are depicted.

IBNS jurors single out banknotes of artistic merits, which are also protected properly with the most advanced means.

More than 150 new banknotes were issued in 2018, but only 10% of them met necessary requirements.

The Canadian 10-dollar note was recognized the Best Banknote of the Year. Switzerland’s 200 francs came second in the row. The Swiss note is followed by Norway’s 500 krones, Russia’s 100 rubles and Solomon Islands’ 40 dollars

9.Swiss franc

Photo CoinsWeekly
Photo CoinsWeekly

This stunning bill won banknote of the year in 2016 by the International Banknote Society (IBNS), and it’s not hard to see why it made it on our list of beautiful banknotes. The bill was crafted with careful attention to detail by its designer, Manuela Pfrunder, who found significance in moving away from featuring important personalities on the currency, to instead, centering on a hand that is meant to symbolize the people of Switzerland as a whole. The hand is depicted to be holding a dandelion, which is meant to represent “the wealth of experiences Switzerland has to offer – expressed by the wind.”

The Swiss Bank has plans to reveal a whole series of new notes that will embody much of the same characteristics of the one pictured here, with key motifs on time, light, wind, water, matter and language.

10.Brunei Dollar

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Brunei Dollar

The Brunei dollar is the official currency of the Sultanate of Brunei. Its ISO code is BND and a Brunei dollar is equivalent to 100 Sen. This currency came into circulation in 1967.

As we have seen, a Brunei dollar is divided into 100 Sen, and normally the symbol of the dollar ($) is used to speak about it or a B from Brunei with the dollar symbol (B$).

After an agreement with its neighbour Singapore, the Brunei dollar has the same value as the Singapore dollar since the 70’s.

Today, there are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Sen. The successive minting of these coins have displayed the effigies of the different Sultan that have ruled the country since 1967.

11.South Africa

Photo Dreamstime
Photo Dreamstime

In the South African Reserve Bank’s words, “Banknotes serve not only as a medium of payment, but are a window on the country, its people, heritage, and culture. … [They] reflect the pride and aspirations of a nation and its people.”

With that in mind, the South African rand comes in five distinct denominations, each featuring one of Africa’s Big Five game animals: a rhinoceros, elephant, lion, buffalo, and leopard. The banknotes are further distinguished by their unique colors and design elements representing different industries.

12.Cook Islands Dollar

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Cook Islands dollar

Today, the official currency of the Cook Islands is the New Zealand dollar but there are still some banknotes and coins issued by the South Pacific nation in circulation. They can generally be used on the islands, but cannot be exchanged outside of the country.

Some are now collected more as souvenirs like the unusual $3 note, which features an image from the local legend of Ina and the Shark. There's also a triangular $2 coin.

13.São Tomé and Príncipe Dobra

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
São Tomé and Príncipe Dobra

A tiny nation in the Gulf of Guiana, off the western equatorial African coast, these volcanic islands bill bill themselves as “Paradise On Earth.” It could be: Splendid beaches and fascinating wildlife, including the endemic Sao Tome kingfisher (Alcedo thomensis) pictured here

14.Norwegian Kroner

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Norwegian Kroner

The 50 kroner note features a lighthouse modelled after the Utvær lighthouse in Solund that is the nation’s westernmost point. The 100 kroner note displays Norway’s largest preserved Viking ship, the Gotskund, while the 200 kroner bill shows a large cod backed by herring and a fishing net.

The 500 kroner note symbolizes prosperity with an image of the rescue vessel RS 14 Stavanger and the 1,000 kroner note is a rolling wave meant to convey “the sea as a counterforce that hones us, and a driving force that carries us forward”.

The reverse of all of the new notes continue the maritime theme and feature heavily pixilated images designed with patterns that follow the Beaufort wind scale.

15.British pound: Alan Turing £50 note

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
British pound: Alan Turing £50 note

A brand new £50 note came into circulation in June 2021. It celebrates legendary mathematician Alan Turing, famed for his code-breaking achievements during the Second World War and his early work with computers. The note features a portrait of Turing (based on a 1950s photo by Victorian studio Elliott & Fry), plus extra little details such as formulae and ticker tape.

There's an inspiring, 1949 quote from Turing too: "This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be".

16.Malaysan ringgit

Photo Dreamstime
Photo Dreamstime

The Malaysian ringgit is notable for looking to the future. Its banknote designs center on Wawasan 2020, the vision put forth by Malaysia’s fourth and seventh Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. This idea envisioned Malaysia to become a prosperous and developed country by 2020.

The ringgit’s six denominations reflect this vision with imagery of various industries and economic symbols, like the Kuala Lumpur Tower, Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, and the Kelana Jaya rail transit line. Such images encapsulate Malaysia’s eye toward progress and modernization.

17.Mexican peso

Photo Dreamstime
Photo Dreamstime

The Mexican peso has a long history and was in fact used as the benchmark for all North American currencies in the late 18th century. As if to acknowledge this, the peso’s latest series of banknotes depicts important figures and periods from Mexican history as well as the country’s different types of terrain.

In 2018, the 500-peso bill was nominated by the International Bank Note Society for its prestigious Bank Note of the Year Award. While it ultimately lost to Canada, the note still deserves recognition for its design: the front features Benito Juárez, the first indigenous president of Mexico, and the reverse displays gray whales in the Biosphere Reserve of El Vizcaíno.

18.Costa Rican Colón

Top 25 Most Beautiful Banknotes In The World
Costa Rican Colón

The Costa Rican coins are somewhat ordinary, but the bills are some of the most beautiful paper currencies out there.

The six bills are very colorful (not a dull payment in sight!) and each of them pays tribute to the men and women who made significant contributions to Costa Rica’s history on their obverse side.

The reverse side of each of the bills is different and focuses on Costa Rica’s beautiful biodiversity with representations of plants, ecosystems, and animals such as sloths, hummingbirds, and sharks.

19.Egyptian Pound

Top 25 Most Beautiful Currencies In The World
Egyptian Pound

The Egyptian pound is the official currency for the Arab Republic of Egypt. The official code is EGP, although LE is frequently used to refer to the pound. It is divided into 100 piasters, and in Arabic, Egyptian pounds are called gineih, and piaster is called qirsh.

The Egyptian pound is mainly a paper currency, with notes available in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, and 50 and 25 piasters. Coins are available in denominations of 1 EGP and 50, 25, and 10 piasters. The symbol is a capital E followed by the same symbol used for the GBP.

The smaller the denomination of Egyptian pound banknotes, the smaller its physical size. Therefore, 200-pound notes are the largest, and 25-piaster notes are the smallest.

20.Ugandan Shillings

Top 25 Most Beautiful Currencies In The World
Ugandan Shillings

The enticing appearance of this note stole the hearts of the IBNS, as this was the first note to ever be voted on by all of the organization’s members rather than by just the committee itself. The front finely expresses the heart of Uganda, showing a man dressed in a Karimojong headdress, and the map of Uganda which highlights the equator. Silverback mountain gorillas are finely illustrated on the back of the currency along with the Independence Monument on the far right.

The gold tones and strong nature of the note have earned its place as a treasured keepsake for collectors.

21.Canadian Dollar

Photo Unsplash
Photo Unsplash

Popular among collectors, the award-winning note of 2004 was none other than Canada’s 20 dollar note that shows an elegant portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the front, and artwork by Bill Reid that depicts the Haida culture of Canada’s history on the back. The portrait of the Queen is one of the finest paper currency portraits that’s ever been pictured. This fact alone contributes greatly to why it has such a highly coveted nature among collectors and became quite popular with IBNS judges. The Queen’s picture is adorned with impressive security features, such as a holographic stripe and color-shifting security thread.

22.India Rupee

Photo Pexels
Photo Pexels

The latest banknote series of the Indian rupee is available in several colorful denominations, including lavender, magenta, and fluorescent blue.

They each feature a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi as well as major cultural symbols like India’s Sun Temple and the Indian Space Research Organization’s Mars Orbiter Mission.

23.Nigeria naira

Photo Dreamstime
Photo Dreamstime

The Nigerian naira is worth noting because of its novelty in featuring the signature of a woman—that of Priscilla Ekwere Eleje, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s first female Director of Currency Operations. Only one other Nigerian bill has ever featured some female representation: the 20-naira note and its image of renowned potter Ladi Kwali.

Nigeria’s kobo coins are also beautiful in their own right. Elegant in their minimalism, each coin features an important natural or economic symbol: peanuts, maize, palm trees, and oil derricks.

24.New Zealand Dollar

Top 25 Most Beautiful Currencies In The World
New Zealand Dollar

Sir Edmund Hillary, on this New Zealand $5, ranks as Most Rugged Outdoorsman on world money, with his weather-crinkled eyes, windblown hair, and open-throated shirt casually askew. Even the color suggests the lifelong tan only acquired by someone who at 33 was the first to stand on top of Mount Everest in 1953, who led the first successful expedition to cross Antarctica via the South Pole in 1958, and who climbed to the source of the Ganges River in the Himalayas in 1977.

This is pretty heady stuff for a man whose first occupation was as a beekeeper.

25.Australian Dollar

Top 25 Most Beautiful Currencies In The World
Australian Dollar

Australia’s currency is one of the most advanced in the world.

The nation’s banknotes are totally waterproof, hard to counterfeit and relatively cleaner because they are resistant to moisture and dirt.

Australian dollar notes are made of a polymer, which has a waxy feel, while the banknotes of the U.S. and several other countries are made of cotton fiber paper, cited CNBC.

Polymer banknotes tend to last two to three times longer than paper notes. The feature could reduce replacement costs — for reference, the U.S. $10 bill is replaced every four and a half years.

Since 2011 the Australian Dollar has been one of the most traded currencies behind the US Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen and the British Pound on the world’s foreign exchange markets and it carries the currency code of AUD and the traditional dollar symbol of $, however, it is also recognised as using the A$ Australian Dollar symbol.

The Australian Dollar is not only accepted on the mainland of Australia, but also on Christmas Island, the Cocos Keeling Islands, Norfolk Island and the Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. The Australian Dollar currency comes in the following bank note dominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and the following coin dominations of 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, $1 and $2 coins.

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