The Central Bank of Iraq is responsible for issuing the official currency of this country, which is the Iraqi dinar. While the dinar is known to be an ancient currency this particular version of it is not as old as you may think, as you will shortly find out.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The currency is represented by the ISO code IQD, which makes it a lot easier to find whenever you are searching for a conversion rate. In theory this is not a decimal currency because it is divided into 1,000 subunits called fils instead of just 100 units. However this isn’t really relevant now because inflation has seen to it that the fils is no longer used.
Indeed if you go to Iraq you will also learn that looking for coins to use here is a moot point also. There are three coins in theory, which are the 25, 50 and 100 dinar coins. However they are not used because they are now essentially worthless. This will become apparent when you realise the value of the highest-denominated banknote.
The banknotes start with the 50 dinar note before moving up through the higher values. These are the 250, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 25,000 dinar notes.
From past to present – the history of the Iraqi dinar
Before the dinar came into use in Iraq the country used the Indian rupee. This had been used ever since the First World War, when the British occupied Iraq. In 1932 the currency changed to the dinar, which at first was pegged to the value of the British pound at par. This remained the case for 27 years, when the dinar became pegged at the same value to the US dollar.
A number of changes in the currency’s value have occurred since, particularly due to the upheaval in Iraq in years’ gone by, as you can imagine.
How to get hold of the Iraqi dinar
You may not be surprised to learn the Iraqi dinar is not that easy to get hold of outside of Iraq itself. The best currency to take in would probably be the US dollar. There is an import and export restriction on foreign currency, but since it is $10,000 US dollars this probably won’t concern you too much.
Although the situation in Iraq is better than it once was, the financial situation is ever-changing. As such it makes sense to be prepared and to ensure you check what is happening there before you travel.
You may find you have to pay for your hotel accommodation in cash in a foreign currency rather than paying in dinars. This might actually be more convenient but you can see how important it is to make sure you reach the country with enough cash to get by if you need it. There are cash machines around that can be found in the majority of large towns and cities. Just be sure your own card will be accepted in these machines. Withdrawing cash by credit card would generally incur a higher fee than doing so by debit card.
It is better to forget about trying to use traveller’s cheques. They are rarely accepted and even if you did find somewhere (or someone) who might cash them for you, you’re not likely to get a reasonable exchange rate.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Iraqi dinar
As usual the best way to do this is to go to your favourite online currency converter. This will ensure you get an up-to-date rate. Of course it won’t take into account any charges levied by a bureau de change, but it does give you a base rate to go from. This may change quite frequently as it does everywhere around the world, perhaps especially in Iraq, so keep looking in the run-up to your trip there.
The Republic of Iraq, to give it its formal name, has an embassy in London. You do not need to pay a visit in order to get information about consular services there however. You simply need to visit their website.
Travelling safely with the Iraqi dinar
As you may already be aware if you know anything about Iraq, this is not the safest place on earth to visit. Indeed, great swathes of the country are not advisable to travel to at all according to the latest information given by the British government. This area accounts for approximately half the country. It also includes part of the border with Saudi Arabia, the border with Jordan and the border with Syria. The remainder of the country is not advisable to travel to unless it is absolutely essential, and most trips there would not be essential going by this definition.
As such you don’t need to be concerned with safety because you would not be recommended to visit the country at the present time anyway. If you do go to Iraq or you plan to do so, do make sure you check the current situation and advice prior to going. You should also keep a close eye on the situation every moment you are there, as this could make all the difference between staying safe and something quite different.
Where to spend your dinars in Iraq – and what to spend them on
Iraq is located in the western portion of Asia. It shares borders with a number of countries. These begin with Turkey to the north. Going round in a clockwise direction we then find Iran to the east and Kuwait to the south-east. Next comes Saudi Arabia, followed by Jordan and Syria.
You may already be familiar with the capital of Iraq, which is Baghdad. Millions of people call this city home, and it is a fascinating place to be. Hopefully someday in the future it will be far safer for tourists to visit this impressive city, since it does have a lot to offer. Baghdad has a very long history that dates back to the mid-700s. As you can imagine, the city has flourished and developed in many ways since those early times. It is unfortunate that it has become a place of war in recent history. The Tigris River runs through the city and there are many famous streets here that people can visit. Among them are Mutanabbi Street, which is famous for being a place of books. Book lovers would certainly appreciate the many stores and stalls that are here, although as with much of the rest of the city it has been through the wars in recent times.
One site many people may be fascinated to see if they ever got the chance would undoubtedly be Babylon. This is the famous city that once thrived in ancient times, when much of this area was known as Mesopotamia. While Mesopotamia itself has long since been split up into the modern countries we know today, the remains of places such as Babylon can still be seen today. This was where the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon once stood, which were once known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. These are now known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, to distinguish them from more modern wonders. However even today no one is quite sure exactly where the gardens would have been, making them rather elusive.
The National Museum of Iraq would also be worth a visit if you ever get the chance in the future. This is located in Baghdad and it holds an impressive record of the history – the long history – of this country back into ancient times. While the museum was looted during 2003 and many items were stolen, thousands have been recovered, although many are still lost. This was a great shame as prior to this, when the Gulf War broke out, the staff at the museum locked away many items in secure vaults to protect them until the war was over.
Today you may still go and see many antiquities and items dating from various periods of history. There is no doubt these all shed a great amount of light on the impressive lifestyles of many who have come before us.
It is a shame that Iraq remains a country that is still too dangerous for the vast majority of people to visit. Given its rocky history it may well be quite some time yet before a visit would become even moderately possible. There are several countries in this part of the world that have unrest and that is a real shame. The history of Iraq makes it a valuable place for us to learn more about, and yet the current situation makes that largely impossible.
We can learn from a distance and find out more about the history of Iraq and the various ways in which the country has changed throughout the years. However this is all we can safely do at present.