The South African Rand (ZAR)


A Brief History of the South African Rand

The South African Rand was introduced as South Africa's official currency in 1961, replacing the South African Pound under a decimalised system. The exchange rate for the Rand against the US Dollar remained at USD $1.40 from its inception in 1961 until 1982.

In 1982, sanctions were imposed on South Africa due to its longstanding policy of Apartheid and due to this the ZAR/USD exchange rate dropped below parity for the first time. By February 1985, the USD/ZAR exchange rate had reached 2.40 Rand to one USD, heading even higher to over three Rand to one Dollar by November of 1992.

By 2001, the rate reached its weakest level of 13.84 Rand to one Dollar after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and a land reform program in Zimbabwe.

After an investigation into the sudden devaluation of the Rand, the currency appreciated dramatically and by the end of 2004, it was back up to 5.70 Rand per Dollar. The Rand has since weakened due in part to South Africa’s current account deficit, which widened to 7.3% of GDP in 2007, with an inflation rate of almost 9%.

Today the rate is around 10 Rand to 1 US Dollar.

The South African Rand in the Global Foreign Exchange Market

The South African Rand is the 20th most traded currency in the global foreign exchange market, accounting for a tiny 0.7% of daily trading volume.

The Rand traditionally traded mostly against the US Dollar although that appears to be changing as the Rand continues to devalue. The South African Rand is typically referred to as the Rand by FX traders.

As the South African economy is mostly resource-based, the Rand is generally affected when commodity prices fluctuate. Shifts in the price of gold often affect the value of the Rand substantially due to the South Africa’s status as a gold-producing nation. South Africa also has an exceptionally high unemployment rate, with more than a quarter of the labour force out of work.

Fact Table:

Currency Name: The South African Rand
Currency Code: ZAR
Currency Symbol: R
Central Bank: The South African Reserve Bank
Countries Used In: South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia
Major Unit: One South African Rand
Minor Unit: One cent = 1/100 of one South African Rand
Note Denominations: R10, R 20, R 50, R 100 and R 200
Coin Denominations: 0.05, 0.10, 0.20, 0. 50 cents, R1, R2 and R5

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