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The Maldivian rufiyaa (Dhivehi: ދިވެހި ރުފިޔާ; sign: Rf or .ރ; code: MVR) is the currency of the Maldives. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). The most commonly used symbols for the rufiyaa are MRF and Rf. The ISO 4217 code for Maldivian rufiyaa is MVR. The rufiyaa is subdivided into 100 laari.
The name "rufiyaa" is derived from the Sanskrit रूप्य (rūpya, wroughtsilver). The midpoint of exchange rate is 12.85 rufiyaa per US dollar and the rate is permitted to fluctuate within a ±20% band, i.e. between 10.28 rufiyaa and 15.42 rufiyaa as of 10 April 2011.
The modern building of the Maldives Monetary Authority
The earliest form of currency used in the Maldives was cowry shells (Cypraea moneta) and historical accounts of travellers indicate that they were traded in this manner even during the 13th century. As late as 1344, Ibn Batuta observed that more than 40 ships loaded with cowry shells were exported each year. A single gold dinar was worth 400,000 shells.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, lārin (parallel straps of silver wire folded in half with dyed Persian and Arabic inscriptions) were imported and traded as currency. This form of currency was used in the Persian Gulf, India, Ceylon and the Far East during this time. Historians agree that this new form of currency was most probably exchanged for cowry shells and indicates Maldives’ lucrative trade with these countries. The first Sultan to imprint his own seal onto this currency was Ghaazee Mohamed Thakurufaanu Al Auzam. The seal was much broader than the wires hence it was barely legible.
Maldivian coins from the 17th and 18th century.
The first known of coins were introduced by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar (1648–1687). Compared to the previous forms of money, these coins were much neater and minted in pure silver. The coins were minted in the capital city of Malé, a fact which it acknowledged on the reverse. The legend "King of Land and Sea, Iskandhar the Great" (Dhivehi: ކަނޑާއި އެއްގަމުގެ ރަސްގެފާނު، މަތިވެރި އިސްކަންދަރު) is found on the edge.
After this period, gold coins replaced the existing silver ones during the reign of Sultan Hassan Nooruddin in 1787. He used two different qualities of gold in his coins; one was called Mohoree and the other Baimohoree, of which the former is of higher value. How this gold was obtained is uncertain.
Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, bronze coins were issued denominated in laari. Sultan Mohamed Imaadhudheen IV (1900–1904) introduced what historians believe to be the first machine struck coins, judging the superior quality of the engravements. His successor Sultan Mohamed Shamshudeen III (1904–1935) made the last of these coins, 1 and 4 laari denominations, which were struck in the United Kingdom by Heaton's Mint, Birmingham, England in 1913.
Following the end of coin production specifically for the Maldives, the Sultanate came to use the Ceylonese rupee. This was supplemented in 1947 by issues of banknotes denominated in rufiyaa, equal in value to the rupee. In 1960, coins denominated in laari, now worth one hundredth of the rufiyaa, were introduced.
In early 1960, Sultan Mohamed Fareed I ordered coins from the Royal Mint in England. The new issue consisted of denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 laari. Unlike his predecessors, Sultan Fareed did not embellish his title on the coins; instead he used the National Emblem on the reverse side with the traditional title of the state (Arabic: الدولة المحلديبية, State of Maldives) and the denomination value on the obverse side. The currency was put into circulation in February 1961 and all the previously traded coins, with the exception of Shamshudeen III's 1 and 4 laari, were withdrawn from circulation on 17 June 1966.
The newly established central bank, the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), introduced the 1-rufiyaa coin on 22 January 1983. The coin was made from steel clad copper nickel and was minted in West Germany. In 1984, a new series of coins was introduced which did not include the 2 laari denomination. In 1995, 2 rufiyaa coins were introduced. Coins currently in circulation are 1 laari, 2 laari, 5 laari, 10 laari, 25 laari, 50 laari, 1 rufiyaa, 2 rufiyaa.
In 1945, the People's Majlis (Parliament) passed bill number 2/66 on the "Maldivian Bank Note". Under this law, banknotes for 1⁄2, 1, 2, 5 and 10 rufiyaa were printed and put into circulation on 5 September 1948. In 1951, 50 and 100 rufiyaa banknotes were introduced.
The current series of banknotes was issued in 1983 in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 rufiyaa. 500-rufiyaa banknotes were added in 1990, with the 2-rufiyaa replaced by a coin in 1995.
In October 2015, the Maldives Monetary Authority issued a 5,000-rufiyaa banknote in polymer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of independence, and issued a new family of banknotes in polymer that included a new denomination of 1,000 rufiyaa. A 5-rufiyaa banknote printed in polymer was revealed in May 2017 and was issued in July 2017. It was originally planned that this denomination was to be replaced by a coin of the same denomination, but public input convinced the Maldives Monetary Authority to go for the banknote.
Illustrations on the banknotes were done by Maizan Hassan Manik and Abbaas (Bamboo).
On the obverse two vignettes. To the left is a vignette of a lateen rigged mas dhoani (a small sailing vessel used for fishing) with a palm tree, while to the right is a vignette of a square rigged vessel known as a mas odi or ‘fishing odi’. The mas odi is an older style of fishing vessel.
A two-storeyed building, which was used for different purposes over the years. At the time the banknotes were prepared the building was the Customs House. It later became a Post Office and was last used as the Office of the Prime Minister. To the left of the building is the main bastion of the town wall. The bastion was called the ‘Bodu Koattey Buruzu’. There was a flagstaff on the Bodu Koattey which flew the State ensign if there was a foreign vessel in port. The bastion has since been torn down as part of the harbour redevelopment and the old Customs house has been demolished, now being the site of Republic Park.
The Sakkarannya Gate, which was one of the principal entrances to the Court of Eterekoilu, the Sultan's Palace. The view is looking west from the street called Meduziyaaraiy Magu. Beyond the gate is the watch-house on the Aa-Koattey Buruzu (New Fort Bastion), from which the Royal Standard flew. Over the wall, to the right, is Veyodorhu Ganduvaru Mathige.
The Veyodorhu Ganduvaru Mathige was a three-storeyed house that was adjacent to the Sultan's Palace. Now demolished, the building was at one stage the Sifainge, or Defence Headquarters of the militia. The aspect of the illustration on the banknote is from the Aa-Koattey Buruzu (New Fort Bastion). To the left of the building is Medhumaa Gate, flanked by lamp-posts. To the left of the gate is the very low Kilege Buruzu (bastion) from which gun salutes were fired.
The Ibrahimiyya Building, a two-storeyed construction by the wharf in Male harbour. Used for many purposes over the years, including the Customs House, it no longer remains standing. To the left of the building is the Dhathurah Araavadaigannavaa Gate (Royal Embarkation Gate), the entrance to the Court of Eterekoilu from the harbour.
Buildings and gardens of the Court of Eterekoilu looking from the north. The tallest building on the right is the Aa-Koattery Buruzu (New Fort Bastion). The tall building on the left is the Veyodorhu Ganduvaru Mathige. Most of the Sultan's Palace and gardens were torn down in 1968. The area now includes the ‘Sultan’s Park’, which surrounds the National Museum, while the Islamic Centre and Mosque is built on the area in the foreground of the illustration.
Date of issue
70 mm × 150 mm
Illustration of a bunch of coconuts and the "Dhivehi Odi" is common on the front of all banknotes in circulation. The coconut is widely used in the Maldives. The "Dhivehi Odi" built of coconut timber was used for inter island transport."Dhivehi Odi" is also a reference to "Kalhu'oh'fummi" the ship used by Muhanmed Thakurufaanu and his brothers Ali and Hassan when they were fighting to liberate Maldives.
FISHING; The means of sustenance of the nation since time immemorial
ISLAND LIFE; A garland of widely scattered tiny islands has evolved a life of subsistence for the islanders
INNER HARBOUR MALE'; The centrifuge of commercial activity in the country
BAZAR IN MALE'; Buzzing with movement all day long
"MEDHUZIYAARAIY"; A revered symbol of proud history
ISLAMIC CENTRE AND MOSQUE; Emblazons the Islamic faith and unity of the nation