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IDR - Indonesian Rupiah



Rupiah or rupee is the name given to the ancient currency unit that is still in use in a few Asian countries with most important among them being India. Etymology suggests the word rupiah means a silver coin and is derived from the Sanskrit language word "rupyakam". Indonesia also uses rupiah as its national currency since 1949 when it replaced the Dutch East Indies guilder. It is also called "perak" locally that again means "silver" in Bahasa Indonesia language. The currency is depicted with the symbol "Rp" and the subunit for the currency is known as "sen". According to ISO 4217 regulation, the currency code of Indonesian rupiah is IDR and the numeric code for the same is 360.

Before Indonesia became an European colony, coins made of gold, silver, bronze and tin prevailed under the influence of Indianized kingdoms, Chinese and Arabs as the currency used in daily exchange transactions. Imported Chinese bronze coins served as the official currency of Indonesia in the 13th century. The coming up of the European troops in Indonesia made way for a number of currencies that were brought from various countries of the world including gold coins from Portugal, silver dollars from Mexico and Peru, Japanese gold coins and Indian rupees. The Dutch occupied the country and renamed it as Netherlands East Indies in the beginning of the 17th century. The East Indies adopted guilder as its official currency and Netherlands had to make special issues of currency for its colony. Guilders were divisible in 30 stuyvers and 120 duitens.

The other currencies like Spanish silver dollars and Indian rupees continued to circulate along with the guilders. In 1828, the Javasche bank was established and in 1854, guilder was made to adopt cent as the decimalized subunit of the currency. The guilder sustained to be the national currency till 20th century and in 1936, the currency dropped the gold standard. In 1942, during the World War II, Japan took over the Dutch colony and issued its own Military yen, which was denominated in guilders but it got stuck in the inflation flow and depreciated drastically. Guilders were taken over by rupiah as the national currency but even it didn’t help the cause and continued to depreciate. After the world war was over, Indonesia declared their independence in 1946 but officially it became free in 1949.

Till 1949, all other currencies were withdrawn from the economy and the Indonesian rupiah prevailed throughout the country. Still, the old rupiah had not escaped from inflation and devaluation and as a result in 1965, it was replaced by the new rupiah @ 1 new rupiah = 1000 old units of old currency. Also, some Indonesian provinces as Riau Archipelago and Irian Barat were using different currencies i.e. Kepulauan Riau rupiah and Irian Barat rupiah before the coming up of new rupiah but were replaced by the Indonesian rupiah in 1964 and 1971 respectively.

Currency Profile

The local currency of Indonesia is Rupiah (Rp) and 1Rp = 100 sen. The currency code for Rupiahs is IDR, and the currency symbol is Rp. The name rupiah comes from the Sanskrit word for wrought silver, rupya. The name was first used to denote a coin introduced by a 16th century ruler in Northern India. The coin obviously was silver based. From there, rupee or rupiah became a common name for the monetary unit in many countries along the Indian Ocean, like India, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. And the name also made it to Indonesia.

Indonesian rupiah banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rupiah. In 2004 and 2005, the latest version of the 10.000 – 100,000 notes were issued and in 2009, the new 2,000 noteswere issued for the first time. There are also 3 coins, in denominations of 100, 500 and 1,000 rupiah. Originally there were also coins of 25 and 50 rupiah, but they were taken out of circulation, since the value of the material began to exceed the value of the coin itself!

The designs and images have changed a lot over time, but in the newest series every note has a national hero and a landmark or cultural scene on it. With a country so diverse, it must have been hard to choose. In addition, all banknotes are distinctive in color. For example, in the current series the 1,000 rupiah note is blue and green with Captain Pattimura featuring the front side and a picture with a view on Maitara and Tidore islands in North Moluccas on the reverse side. Of course, the red coloured 100,000 rupiah note features Indonesia’s biggest heroes Soekarno and Hatta, with the Indonesian Parliament building in Jakarta on the reverse side.

Indonesian rupiah is one of the weakest currencies in the world. The currency faces high fluctuations with even slightest of movements in the world market and issues like terrorism, oil prices, domestic sovereign conditions, religious issues, fluctuations in the US market influence the currency value far too much. Financial crisis in Asia in 1997 that hit Indonesia worst among all the Asian countries, terror attacks in Bali in 2002 and the catastrophic tsunami in 2004 served as a blow to the Indonesian economy that is still trying to recover from the aftermaths. Inflation has been a continued risk for rupiah and has devalued the currency.

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