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The ariary (ISO 4217 code MGA) is the currency of Madagascar. It is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja and is one of only two non-decimal currencies currently circulating (the other is the Mauritanian ouguiya). The names ariary and iraimbilanja derive from the pre-colonial currency, with ariary being the name for a silver dollar. Iraimbilanja means literally "one iron weight" and was the name of an old coin worth 15 of an ariary.

The ariary was introduced in 1961. It was equal to 5 francs. Coins and banknotes were issued denominated in both francs and ariary, with the sub-unit of the ariary, the iraimbilanja, worth 15 of an ariary and therefore equal to the franc. The ariary replaced the franc as the official currency of Madagascar on January 1, 2005.

Coins and banknotes were denominated in both the official francs and the semi-official ariary and iraimbilanja since 1961. On early issues, the franc denomination was the most prominent. However, from 1978, higher value coins were issued denominated only in ariary. In 1993, new 500 ariary-2500 franc note and 5000 ariary-25,000 franc were issued with ariary slightly more prominent. On banknotes issued since July 31, 2003, the ariary denomination is displayed prominently and the franc denomination in small print. Lower denomination coins are also now issued denominated in ariary but with the main design unchanged.

In 1965, 1 franc (1 iraimbilanja) and 2 francs (venty sy kirobo) coins were issued, followed by 5 francs (1 ariary) in 1966 and 10 and 20 francs (2 and 4 ariary) in 1970. The term "venty sy kirobo" derives from names used in the 19th century for 16 and 14 of a silver dollar or 5 francs piece, since 16+14=512 of 5 francs is approximately 2 francs.[1]

In 1978, 10 and 20 ariary coins were issued which did not show the denomination in francs. These were followed in 1992 by 5 and 50 ariary coins as well as smaller 10 and 20 ariary. In 2003-2004, 1 and 2 ariary coins not bearing the franc denomination were also introduced. [2]

Coins in circulation are listed below. Bold denotes the most prominent denomination, while italic denotes an equivalence that is not shown on the coin.

Denomination Name Value in MGF
1/5 ariary Iraimbilanja 1 franc
2/5 ariary Venty sy Kirobo 2 francs
1 ariary Ariary 5 francs
1 ariary Ariary 5 francs
2 ariary Ariary Roa 10 francs
2 ariary Ariary Roa 10 francs
4 ariary Ariary Efatra 20 francs
5 ariary Ariary Dimy 25 francs
10 ariary Ariary Folo 50 francs
20 ariary Roapolo Ariary 100 francs
50 ariary Dimam-Polo Ariary 250 francs

Banknotes[hanova ny fango]

In 1961, the Malagasy Institute for Emissions introduced banknotes in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 francs. These notes were overprints on earlier notes of the Bank of Madagascar and Comoros, with the denomination in ariary (10, 20, 100, 200 and 1000) included in the overprint. Regular banknotes in the same denominations followed between 1963 and 1969. The denomination in ariary was written only in words, not numerals.

The Central Bank of the Malagasy Republic took over the issuance of notes in 1974 and new notes were issued in the same denominations as had been used earlier. The name of the bank changed to the Central Bank of Madagascar in 1983, resulting in a new series of notes which included 10,000 francs (2000 ariary) notes but did not include 50 or 100 francs.

In 1993, notes for 500 ariary and 5000 ariary were introduced which bore the ariary denominations in numerals as well as the franc denominations (2500 and 25,000) in smaller numerals. However, in 1998, these notes were replaced by new issues which only gave the franc denominations in numerals.

In 2003-2004, new notes were introduced in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 and 10,000 ariary. These notes also bear the franc denominations (500, 1000, 2500, 5000, 10,000, 25,000 and 50,000) in very small numerals.

Banknotes currently in circulation are listed below.[3]

Denomination Year of Issue Description
500 francs (100 ariary) 1994 girl; zebus
1000 francs (200 ariary) 1994 boy + ships; woman, fishermen
2500 francs (500 ariary) 1998 old woman; weaving
5000 francs (1000 ariary) 1995 young boy; lemurs and birds
100 ariary (500 francs) 2004 Ravinala & Tsingy; Antsiranana bay
200 ariary (1000 francs) 2004 village gate; Aloalo
500 ariary (2500 francs) 2004 Artisan; zebus
1000 ariary (5000 francs) 2004 Endemic animals; Cactus Sisal
2000 ariary (10,000 francs) 2003 baobabs; farm terraces
5000 ariary (25,000 francs) 2003 sailing boats; beach
10000 ariary (50,000 francs) 2003 Le palais d'argent; road building