Armenian currency is dram which has been a symbol of the independent Republic of Armenia. For a lot of Armenians, Armenia currency, dram, equals to the independence from the USSR and shows the Republic of Armenia is a separate country, with its own national money.
Armenian currency and national money, as mentioned above, is dram. If you ever wondered what the official currency of Armenia is and what interesting stories it has behind it, then just keep on reading!
Basic Information on Armenia Currency
On Armenian Currency History
Armenian dram is the official and national money of the Republic of Armenia. The word “dram” itself can be translated into English as “money”. Dram is subdivided into 100 luma. As we mentioned earlier, dram symbolizes the independence of Armenia from the USSR.
Interestingly enough, dram was first issued in the period from 1199 to 1375, in the form of a silver coin, called dram.
So, after claiming its independence from the Soviet Union, Armenia established the Central Bank of Armenia in 1993. The Central Bank was given the exclusive right of issuing Armenia currency.
As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, several countries of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) tried to maintain a common monetary unit, the Russian ruble. However, soon it became clear that it would be very hard to keep the ruble zone in the unstable economic and political situation of post-Soviet states.
Countries that were still part of the ruble zone were forced to issue their own national currency. Actually, Armenia was the last of those countries to do so.
Sign of Armenian Currency
Sure enough, Armenia currency has its sign which is widely used in financial documents, computer fonts, currency exchange displays and elsewhere.
The first scratches of the sign were found in scratched documents of 1995. But later on, the Central Bank of Armenia announced a competition of the best design for Armenian dram. This was done to officially represent the sign of dram to the international financial society.
As a result of the competition, the two designs reached the final. One of the designs, which became the winner, was a combination of Armenian letter “Դ” (capital D in English, first letter of the word dram) crossed by two horizontal lines. The authors of this sign are Karen Komendaryan and Ruben Aruchyan.
The second design was the first letter of the Armenian word ”Փող” (literally translated as money, pronounced “pogh”).
Central Bank of Armenia
The National Bank of Armenia was renamed into the Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia in 1993. It was when the national currency dram was put into circulation. Since 1996, one of the main roles of the Central Bank has been maintaining price stability.
In the meantime, during the period from 1996 to 2001, CBA spent considerable efforts for launching the national payments and settlements system which would comply with international standards. The result was ArCa (Armenian Card) system.
Some main tasks of the CBA include maintaining stability of the national currency, as well as ensuring the cycle of it, fighting money laundering and terrorism financing and managing the international reserves of the Republic of Armenia.
Armenian Currency Coins and Banknotes
Armenia Currency Coins
In 1994, after the establishment of the CBA, first series of coins was issued. They had the denominations of 10, 20 and 50 luma, 1, 3, 5 and 10 dram. Currently, only the 10 dram coin is in circulation. Still, the other coins are officially in circulation, but are not used at all, because you can’t do anything with them. Their nominal value is very low.
The second series of coins was introduced in 2003-2004. These were 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 dram coins. All of these coins bear the date of the first issue, either 2003 or 2004.
Armenia Currency Banknotes
The story of the Armenian banknotes is much more interesting. The very first banknotes of Armenian dram were issued on November 22, 1993. The banknotes were 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 drams. The 1000 and 5000 banknotes were put into circulation later on.
All of these banknotes were annulled in 2004 and 2005 because the new dram banknotes had been issued since 1998. When the banknotes were taken out of circulation, people could take their old money to the Central Bank of Armenia and exchange them with the new banknotes or coins.
At this period, when the paper 500 dram was substituted with 500 dram coin, many people, and especially children, were trying to chase those 500 dram coins. Literally everyone was trying to get hold of them, and when they did, they wouldn’t spend it but rather keep it in a jar with other 500 coins.
Interestingly enough, this tendency still goes on. Of course, now these coins are not so rare but people still don’t want to spend them because they look really nice and could be collected for later use.
Interesting Facts on Armenian Currency Banknotes
The new notes of Armenian dram are all issued, according to international security standards. These notes have faces of famous Armenian people, artists, poets, painters and scientists on their obverse side and, also, something, connected with these people on the reverse side.
For example, on the 20000 banknote, we have Martiros Saryan and an episode of his painting, called “Armenian landscape” on the reverse side of the note.
Another example, the 5000 notes, has the face of Hovhannes Tumanyan (a great Armenian poet) on the obverse side and a painting of Lori Marz of Armenia where H. Tumanyan was born.
Some people believe that the banknotes or money of the country, actually, show the real values of the nation. In this case, Armenian dram banknotes show Armenians care about their culture, they love and respect their heritage and look forward to the future.
Armenian Dram Exchange Rates
When the dram was just introduced, its exchange rate was 1 dram=200 rubles and 1 USD=404 dram.
The average range of rate is as follows:
1 USD=400-550 AMD
1 EUR=450-600 AMD
1 RUR=6-10 AMD
So, what can you do with 1 dollar in Armenia?
You can by 4 pieces of bread for the whole family. Or you can by small pack of potato chips and a small bottle of coke!
Other alternatives include ride in public transport 4 times or getting 470 boxes of matches. A box of match costs 10 drams, and the price hasn’t changes since the independence of Armenia. People here constantly joke about it, since it’s the only thing that has kept the same price since then.