Size of currency notes around the world

The editions of IMF’s Finance and Development Magazine usually carries a feature on paper money in some or the other country titled: Currency Notes.

In the June 2018 edition, Tadeusz Galeza and James Chan discuss various note sizes around the world:

Hyperinflation Bills

From strings of shells in the Solomon Islands to large stone disks on the Micronesian isle of Yap or wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in Italy, money has taken many forms throughout history. Today, banknotes are an artistic expression of national sovereignty, with many countries choosing to immortalize famous authors and activists, local wildlife, and iconic national landmarks. In other words, modern paper money represents the essence, history, beauty, and ideals to which each country aspires. To see this diversity in action, we need look no further than the 189 member countries of the IMF that churn out 136 unique national currencies and form four currency unions.

Standouts include the Malawian kwacha, the smallest banknote in our study at about 87 percent the size of the US dollar bill. At the other end of the spectrum are the Brunei and the Singapore dollars, the largest banknotes in circulation, each with a total area of more than 150 percent of the US dollar bill—calling for a really deep wallet. Banknotes across the world are rectangular, but most are wider rather than they are tall. Swiss francs, for example, tend to be very slender, while British pounds and Kenyan shillings are more square.

Yet despite the variations in design, the properties that define currency are the same: they are a unit of measure, a store of value, and a medium of exchange. Paper bills, or “fiat” money, also have no intrinsic value; their worth is determined solely through supply and demand, and they are declared legal tender by government decree.

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