The name "dinar" is ultimately derived from the Romandenarius. The Arabic word santeem comes from the French "centime", since Algeria was under French occupation from 1830 to 1962
The dinar was introduced on 1 April 1964, replacing the Algerian new franc at par. By 1980s, French inscriptions saw decline on these banknotes.
Argotic counting system
The masses rarely use the dinar as such, but the franc (officially the centime; one hundredth of a dinar) and the doro (one twentieth of a dinar). In traditional selling places such as the vegetable market or in the case of street vendors, prices are displayed in francs, in more modern shops the prices are displayed in dinars but the franc is used in speech.
In 1964, coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes, and 1 dinar were introduced, with the 1, 2 and 5 centimes struck in aluminium, the 10, 20 and 50 centimes in aluminium bronze and the 1 dinar in cupro-nickel. The obverses showed the emblem of Algeria, while the reverses carried the values in Eastern Arabic numerals. In later decades, coins were issued sporadically with various commemorative subjects. However, the 1 and 2 centimes were not struck again, whilst the 5, 10 and 20 centimes were last struck in the 1980s.
In 1992, a new series of coins was introduced consisting of 1⁄4, 1⁄2, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dinars. A 200 dinar bi-metallic coin was issued in 2012 to commemorate Algeria's 50th anniversary of independence. The 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 dinar coins are bimetallic.
Coins in general circulation are 5 dinars and higher. Following the massive inflation which accompanied the slow transition to a more capitalist economy during the late 1990s, the centime and fractional dinar coins have dropped out of general circulation, whilst the 1 and 2 dinar coins are rarely used, as prices are rounded to the nearest 5 dinars. Nonetheless, prices are typically quoted in centimes in everyday speech; thus a price of 100 dinars is read as عشر الاف ("ten thousand").