Italian Somaliland rupia

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Four bese
Vittorio Emanuele III; below L. GIORGI (Luigi Giorgi, engraver) Denomination and date in four lines.
Æ; Rome mint, 1909

The Somali rupia (plural: rupie, Somali: روپيا) was the currency in Italian Somaliland from 1909 to 1925. It was subdivided into 100 bese (singular: besa, Somali: بيزا).


The Somali rupia was introduced between 1909 and 1910. First, bronze coins denominated in besa were introduced, followed by silver coins denominated in rupia in 1910. The rupia replaced several currencies, including the Maria Theresa thaler and the Indian rupee, to which it was equal. The rupia was replaced by the Italian Somaliland lira during a transition period between July 1, 1925, and June 30, 1926,[1] at a rate of 8 lire = 1 rupia.

Since the rupia's replacement, several currencies have circulated in what was Italian Somaliland, including the Italian East African lira, the East African shilling, the Italian Somaliland somalo and the Somali shilling.


In 1909, bronze coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2 and 4 bese. These were followed, in 1910, by silver ¼, ½ and 1 rupia. The silver coins were struck to the same specifications as those of the Indian rupee. Silver coins were struck until 1921, with bronze continuing until 1924.


The first currency specific to Italian Somaliland was issued between 1893 and 1896 by V. Filonardi & Company, a private trading company run by Vincenzo Filonardi, Italy’s former consul at Zanzibar. Filonardi’s 5-rupia notes were promissory notes not intended to replace the currencies then circulating in Italian Somaliland, including the Indian rupee and the Maria Theresa thaler.[2] Official banknotes were introduced in 1920 by the Banca d'Italia. These were cash certificates (buoni di cassa) in denominations of 1, 5 and 10 rupie. 10 and 20 rupie were printed but not issued.


  1. ^ The Banknotes of Somalia by Peter Symes
  2. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Italian Somaliland". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA:

External links[edit]

Preceded by:
Indian rupee
Ratio: at par
Currency of Italian Somaliland
1909 – 1925
Concurrent with: Indian rupee and Maria Theresa thaler
Succeeded by:
Italian Somaliland lira
Ratio: 8 lire = 1 rupia
Preceded by:
Maria Theresa Thaler
Ratio: 1 rupia = 32/75 thaler