Franc

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For other uses, see Franc (disambiguation).
Franc
1 Swiss franc 1983 obverse 1 Swiss franc 1983 reverse
1 Swiss franc 1983
1 French franc 1991 coin obverse 1 French franc 1991 coin reverse
1 French franc 1991
1 Belgian franc 1996
1 Luxembourg franc 1990 obverse 1 Luxembourg franc 1990 coin reverse
1 Luxembourg franc 1990
1 Monaco franc 1978 coin obverse 1 Monaco franc 1978 coin reverse
1 Monegasque franc 1978
100 Saar francs reverse and obverse
100 Saar francs 1956

The franc (₣) is the name of several currency units. The French franc was the former currency of France until the euro was adopted in 1999 (by law, 2002 de facto). The Swiss franc is a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions. The name is said to derive from the Latin inscription francorum rex (Style of the French sovereign: King of the Franks) used on early French coins and until the 18th century, or from the French franc, meaning "free" (and "frank").

The countries that use francs include Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and most of the Francophone countries of Africa. Before the introduction of the euro, francs were also used in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, while Andorra and Monaco accepted the French franc as legal tender (Monegasque franc). The franc was also used within the French Empire's colonies, including Algeria and Cambodia. The franc is sometimes italianised or hispanicised as the franco, for instance in Luccan franco.

One franc is typically divided into 100 centimes. The French franc symbol was an F with a line through it (₣) or, more frequently, only an F.

Origins[edit]

The first franc ever minted, the franc à cheval, was minted upon Jean le Bon's return from captivity from 5 December 1360, and featured combative imagery. Gold, 24 karats, 3.73 g. It conveniently coincided with the account value of one livre tournois.

The franc was originally a French gold coin of 3.87 g minted in 1360 on the occasion of the release of King John II ("the good"), held by the English since his capture at the Battle of Poitiers four years earlier. It was equivalent to one livre tournois (Tours pound).

French franc[edit]

The French franc was the name of a gold coin issued in France from 1360 until 1380,[1] then a silver coin issued between 1575 and 1641.[2] The franc finally became the national currency from 1795 until 1999 (franc coins and notes were legal tender until 2002). Though abolished as a legal coin by Louis XIII in 1641 in favor of the gold louis and silver écu, the term franc continued to be used in common parlance for the livre tournois. The franc was also minted for many of the former French colonies, such as Morocco, Algeria, French West Africa, and others. Today, after independence, many of these countries continue to use the franc as their standard denomination.

The value of the French franc was locked to the euro at 1 euro = 6.55957 FRF on 31 December 1998, and after the introduction of the euro notes and coins, ceased to be legal tender after 28 February 2002, although they were still exchangeable at banks until 19 February 2012.[citation needed]

CFA and CFP francs[edit]

Fourteen African countries use the franc CFA (in west Africa, Communauté financière africaine; in equatorial Africa, Coopération financière en Afrique centrale), originally (1945) worth 1.7 French francs and then from 1948, 2 francs (from 1960: 0.02 new franc) but after January 1994 worth only 0.01 French franc. Therefore, from January 1999, 1 CFA franc is equivalent to €0.00152449.

A separate (franc CFP) circulates in France's Pacific territories, worth €0.0084 (formerly 0.055 French franc).

Comorian franc[edit]

In 1981, The Comoros established an arrangement with the French government similar to that of the CFA franc. Originally, 50 Comorian francs were worth 1 French franc. In January 1994, the rate was changed to 75 Comorian francs to the French franc. Since 1999, the currency has been pegged to the euro.

Belgian franc and Luxembourg franc[edit]

The conquest of most of western Europe by Revolutionary and Napoleonic France led to the franc's wide circulation. Following independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the new Kingdom of Belgium in 1832 adopted its own Belgian franc, equivalent to the French one, followed by Luxembourg adopting the Luxembourg franc in 1848 and Switzerland in 1850. Newly unified Italy adopted the lira on a similar basis in 1862.

In 1865, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy created the Latin Monetary Union (to be joined by Spain and Greece in 1868): each would possess a national currency unit (franc, lira, peseta, drachma) worth 4.5 g of silver or 0.290322 g of gold (fine), all freely exchangeable at a rate of 1:1. In the 1870s the gold value was made the fixed standard, a situation which was to continue until 1914.

In 1926 Belgium as well as France experienced depreciation and an abrupt collapse of confidence, leading to the introduction of a new gold currency for international transactions, the belga of 5 francs, and the country's withdrawal from the monetary union, which ceased to exist at the end of the year. The 1921 monetary union of Belgium and Luxembourg survived, however, forming the basis for full economic union in 1932.

Like the French franc, the Belgian/Luxemburgese franc ceased to exist in 1 January 1999, when it became fixed at 1 EUR = 40.3399 BEF/LUF, thus a franc was worth €0.024789. Old franc coins and notes lost their legal tender status in 28 February 2002.

1 Luxembourg franc was equal to 1 Belgian franc. Belgian francs were legal tender inside Luxembourg, and Luxembourg francs were legal tender in Belgium.

The equivalent name of the Belgian franc in Dutch, Belgium's other official language, was Belgische Frank.

Countries where the franc is the official currency

Swiss franc and Liechtenstein frank[edit]

The Swiss franc (ISO code: CHF or 756), which appreciated significantly against the new European currency from April to September 2000, remains one of the world's strongest currencies, worth today around five-sixths of a euro. The Swiss franc is used in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein retains the ability to mint its own currency, the Liechtenstein frank, which it does from time to time for commemorative or emergency purposes.

The name of the country "Swiss Confederation" is found on some of the coins in Latin (Confoederatio Helvetica), as Switzerland has four official languages, all of which are used on the notes. The denomination is abbreviated "Fr." on the coins which is the abbreviation in all four languages.

Saar franc[edit]

The Saar franc, linked at par to the French franc, was introduced in the Saar Protectorate in 1948. On 1 January 1957, the territory joined the Federal Republic of Germany, nevertheless, in its new member state of Saarland, the Saar franc continued to be the currency until 6 July 1959.

The name of the Saar franc in German, the main official language in the Protectorate, was Franken. Coins displaying German inscriptions and the coat of arms of the Protectorate were circulated and used together with French francs. As banknotes, only French franc bills existed.

Countries that use the franc[edit]

Countries currently using the franc[edit]

Countries Currency ISO 4217 code
 Benin West African CFA franc XOF
 Burkina Faso West African CFA franc XOF
 Burundi Burundi franc BIF
 Cameroon Central African CFA franc XAF
 Central African Republic Central African CFA franc XAF
 Chad Central African CFA franc XAF
 Republic of the Congo Central African CFA franc XAF
 Democratic Republic of the Congo Congolese franc CDF
 Comoros Comorian franc KMF
 Côte d'Ivoire West African CFA franc XOF
 Djibouti Djiboutian franc DJF
 Equatorial Guinea Central African CFA franc XAF
 Gabon Central African CFA franc XAF
 Guinea Guinean franc GNF
 Guinea-Bissau West African CFA franc XOF
 Liechtenstein Swiss franc CHF
 Mali West African CFA franc XOF
 Niger West African CFA franc XOF
 Rwanda Rwandan franc RAF
 Senegal West African CFA franc XOF
  Switzerland Swiss franc CHF
 Togo West African CFA franc XOF

Countries which formerly used the franc:

Collectivities which use the franc:

Countries Currency ISO 4217 code
France French Polynesia CFP franc XPF
France New Caledonia CFP franc XPF
France Wallis and Futuna CFP franc XPF

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ L. Ciani, Les Monnaies Royales Françaises (1926) p.77 and p.92
  2. ^ L. Ciani, Les Monnaies Royales Françaises (1926) p.314 and p.356

External links[edit]