Zairean zaire

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Zairean zaire
zaïre (French)
Zaire banknote five million zaires 1992 (front).gif 1000000zaz2.jpg
Front 1992 Back 1992
ISO 4217 code ZRZ
Central bank Banque du Zaïre
User(s) Zaire
 1/100 likuta
 1/10,000 sengi
 likuta makuta
Coins None for new zaïre
Banknotes 1, 5, 10, 50 new makuta, 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000, 500 000, 1 000 000 new zaïres
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The Zaïre was the unit of currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then of the Republic of Zaire from 1967 until 1997. There were two distinct currencies. All but six of the 79 series of banknotes issued bear the image of Mobutu.[1]

Zairean Zaire (1967–1993)[edit]

The Zairean Zaire (symbol: "Z", or sometimes "Ƶ") was introduced in 1967, replacing the Congolese franc at an exchange rate of 1 zaïre = 1000 francs. The zaïre was subdivided into 100 makuta (singular: likuta, symbol: "K"), each of 100 sengi (symbol: "s"). However, the sengi was worth very little and the only sengi denominated coin was the 10 sengi coin issued in 1967. Unusually for any currency, it was common practice to write cash amounts with three zeros after the decimal place, even after inflation had greatly devalued the currency. Inflation eventually caused denominations of banknotes up to 5 million zaïres to be issued, after which the new zaïre was introduced.


20 makuta 1976

In 1967, coins were introduced by the Banque Nationale du Congo in denominations of 10 sengi, 1 and 5 makuta, with the lower two denominations in aluminium and the highest in cupro-nickel. In 1973, the first coins issued by the Banque du Zaïre were issued, cupro-nickel 5, 10 and 20 makuta. In 1987, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of brass 1, 5 and with a 10 zaïres in 1988.


In 1967, the Banque Nationale du Congo introduced notes for 10, 20 and 50 makuta, 1 and 5 zaïres (also shown as 100 and 500 makuta). In 1971, 10 zaïre notes were introduced. In 1972, the Banque du Zaïre started issuing notes for 1, 5 and 10 zaïres, followed by 50 makuta notes in 1973. 50 zaïre notes were introduced in 1980, followed by 100 zaïres in 1983, 500 zaïres in 1984, 1000 zaïres in 1985, 5000 zaïres in 1988, 10,000 zaïres in 1989, 2000, 20,000 and 50,000 zaïres in 1991 and, finally, 100,000, 200,000, 500,000, 1 million and 5 million in 1992.

The 5 million zaïre note, which entered circulation in late 1992, was not accepted as legal tender for several weeks in some parts of the country (notably in the north-east), and in other parts of the country it was accepted for only part of its value. One reason for this mistrust was a grammatical error in the French number on the note, which read "cinq millions zaïres" instead of "cinq millions de zaïres".

New Zaire (1993–1998)[edit]

The New Zaire (French: Nouveau Zaïre), symbol "NZ", ISO 4217 code ZRN, replaced the first zaïre in 1993 at an exchange rate of 1 new zaïre = 3,000,000 old zaïres. It was subdivided into 100 new makuta (symbol: "NK"). This currency was only issued in banknote form and suffered from similarly high inflation to its predecessor.

The new zaïre was replaced by the Congolese franc again on July 1, 1998,[2] at an exchange rate of 1 franc = 100,000 new zaïres shortly after Zaïre became the Democratic Republic of the Congo once more, in May 1997.


In 1993, notes were issued by the Banque du Zaïre in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50 new makuta, 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 new zaïres. These were followed, in 1994, by notes for 200 and 500 new zaïres. In 1995, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 new zaïre notes were introduced, whilst in 1996, notes for 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 500,000 and 1 million new zaïres were added. All of the nouveaux zaïre notes feature a portrait of Mobutu Sésé Seko in uniform with cap.[3]


  1. ^ David van Reybrouck. Congo: The Epic History of a People. HarperCollins, 2012. p. 381. ISBN 978-0-06-220011-2. 
  2. ^ International Monetary Fund, International Financial Statistcs, November 2007: World & Country Notes
  3. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Zaire". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: 

External links[edit]