Zimbabwe has had a variety of currencies during recent decades. At present however it uses the United States dollar, recognised by the ISO code USD. You’ll discover why this is the case below.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
You may already be familiar with the coins and banknotes available for this well-known currency. In terms of coins – the dollar is split into 100 cents – all the common coinage is available as cents. These are the 1, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins. You might also see the 50 cent coin and the dollar coin, but these don’t often turn up in circulation, even though they are legal tender.
There are more banknotes available too. The most common ones you will see are the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. There is also a $2 note but you are not likely to see it. There are in theory other notes of higher value too but they are not in circulation.
From past to present – the history of the Zimbabwean US dollar
Up until mid-April 2009 Zimbabwe used its own version of the dollar – called, rather appropriately, the Zimbabwean dollar. This had been in circulation for almost 30 years, since 1980. Before this the country used the Rhodesian dollar.
The reason the country eventually swapped to the US dollar was simple – hyperinflation. This is an extreme version of inflation and in this case it really was extreme. By the time the US dollar was seen as the best route out of trouble, the fourth version of the Zimbabwean dollar was worth one TRILLION of the original Zimbabwean dollars! You could be a billionaire in Zimbabwe back then and it meant you were essentially poor.
There are no plans to re-introduce the Zimbabwean dollar at present but those in charge have never ruled it out entirely. However the odds of it coming back into favour are very long indeed. It looks as though the country will be using the US dollar for the foreseeable future.
How to get hold of the Zimbabwean US dollar
Well this is rather easy since it is one of the most popular currencies in the world. Indeed it is the biggest reserve currency which means you can get it at a variety of bureaux de change before you even set foot in Zimbabwe itself. Make sure you get new banknotes if you can, or at least those that are fairly new. Zimbabweans may not accept older, crumpled or torn notes, so bear this in mind.
It is also a good idea to have as many small banknotes as you can get. Larger denominations may not be as easy to change when buying something. If you get cash before you go to Zimbabwe ask the person at the bureau de change to help with this if they will.
You may be able to use credit cards to make payment for things in Zimbabwe but it can depend on where you are. Places that are more amenable to tourism will be most likely to accept a range of payment methods including credit cards. Of course you should always be careful to protect your cards and never let anyone take them out of your sight.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Zimbabwean US dollar
You can do this by using any preferred currency converter you will find online. This is easy to do and you just need to find the US dollar and your own currency to convert from and to (or vice versa depending on how you want it to work).
Are you interested in learning a bit more about Zimbabwe if you are thinking of going there, for example? You could pay a visit to the Embassy of Zimbabwe to Britain and Ireland in virtual form by going to http://www.zimlondon.gov.zw/ for a closer look.
Travelling safely with the Zimbabwean US dollar
It is a good idea to check the current situation in Zimbabwe before you consider visiting there. This is because the political situation can be troublesome at times. Things have improved in recent years but there is no telling whether this situation will continue or not. Always check before you travel and keep an eye on the situation while you are there as well.
Unfortunately crime is commonplace in this country. This means you should be particularly vigilant with regard to your own safety, as well as safeguarding your US dollars. Make sure you carry no more cash than you need to, and keep your eyes on who is around you. This is particularly pertinent if you are going to withdraw cash from one of the cash machines available in the country. If you do carry cash with you, try keeping it in small amounts in different pockets. At least then if you do become the victim of a pickpocket they won’t get everything.
Don’t carry your actual passport with you unless you don’t feel safe leaving it in your room. Ideally you should stay in a hotel that offers excellent security, complete with a safe in your room. You should however keep a photocopy of the passport with you in case you should need it.
Many crimes take place after dark so bear this in mind and try not to travel at night if you can possibly help it. Don’t travel alone either. Most of these suggestions are common sense but it is wise to keep up with the situation in the country so you know which areas to steer clear of that pose particular problems.
Where to spend your US dollars in Zimbabwe – and what to spend them on
You’ll need to head for southern Africa to find Zimbabwe, which shares borders with a number of other countries. To the north and north-west is Zambia, while on the eastern side of the country you will find Mozambique. To the south is South Africa while the western side of the country faces Botswana.
The capital of Zimbabwe is Harare, although depending on your age and your knowledge of capital cities you may remember it going by the name of Salisbury up until the early Eighties. It has a reasonably long history and a variety of landmarks that it is known for. Some of these are major office buildings and other city buildings, but there are some other more interesting ones too. For example National Heroes Acre is a monument where people who fought as part of the Rhodesian Bush War are buried. Elsewhere you can visit the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences. This is a fascinating museum filled with exhibits on this particular topic.
But what of the rest of Zimbabwe? Well as you may guess from its location in the world it is a popular country to visit for those who wish to go on safari. Some care is required here though, as not all safari locations are equal. You need to make sure you go to a recognised, respectable and qualified location in order to maximise your safety. Some of the lesser parks and areas have seen injuries and even deaths occurring to visitors because not enough care is taken.
Perhaps the most famous sight in the entire country is Victoria Falls. It actually sits on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia and it is the largest waterfall in the entire world. You’ll find higher ones elsewhere, not to mention wider ones, but here you can take the width and multiply it by the height to come up with the biggest one of all. It can be seen in the Victoria Falls National Park which is well worth a visit on its own.
Elsewhere you should consider visiting the Matobo National Park, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, just as the waterfalls above are. There is plenty you can do in this park, even down to camping there for the night at one of the campsites available. You can also hop on a horse to take a ride, or get into a boat to go boating or fishing. There are many other opportunities to be had here as well, such as watching the animals that are here. Look out in particular for the cave paintings dating from thousands of years ago. Some of the main sites have been developed for tourists to see without harming the friezes and drawings.
As you can see Zimbabwe has plenty of superb places to share with its visitors. While it is always important to be aware of the current situation in the country before you visit, you will undoubtedly be interested in exploring as much of the country as you can while you are there. With national monuments, natural sights, animals and much more besides, a trip to Zimbabwe can be met with some stunning sights and amazing experiences. So long as you keep your wits about you, observe any safety rules and updates while you are there and don’t do anything silly, you should have a great time.