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Singapore Currency Spotlight: Singapore Dollar

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

This week we’re taking a look at a currency that represents a single city – the Singapore dollar. So whether you need to buy Singapore dollars or are just interested in what is one of the more unique currencies and economies in the world, read on!

Fast Facts: Singapore Dollar

  • Singaport Dollar Symbol: $ or S$
  • Currency Code: SGD
  • Coins: 5, 10, 20, 50 cents, $1
  • Banknotes: $2, $5, $10, $50, $100, $500, $1000, $10,000 (withdrawn)
  • Singaporean GDP (nominal): US$308.051 billion (36th)
  • Monetary Authority: Monetary Authority of Singapore


After Singapore was founded by the British, the island city went through a succession of different currencies. These included (in order from 1845 until 1967) the Straits dollar, the Malayan dollar, and the Malaya and British Borneo dollar. After a union between Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore broke down in 1965, a new currency was introduced – the Singapore dollar.

The Singapore dollar remained on par with the Malaysian ringgit until 1973. In fact, the Brunei dollar and Singapore dollar are still on par and exchangeable for one another to this day (they are even accepted in both countries). On a global level the Singapore dollar was pegged at a value of $60 to 1 pound sterling until the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970’s. The next decade saw the dollar set to different pegs until it was finally allowed to float starting in 1985.

As the monetary system became more complex, the government created the Monetary Authority of Singapore to better govern all financial, banking, and currency matters within the country. This body was formed in 1971 and continues in its regulatory mission to the present day.

Notes and Coins

There have been three total series of coins since the Singapore dollar was established – the 1967 Marine series, the 1985 Floral series, and the 2013 Iconic series. The Floral series is set to be phased out by 2017, though they are still produced for the time being. The current series (‘Iconic’) features coat of arms and ‘Singapore’ in all four official languages on the obverse while the reverse generally features landmarks or important ‘iconic’ symbols of the city-state. These include the Port of Singapore, airport, the Merlion (symbol of the country), and many other nationally recognized symbols.

Since 1967, there have been a total of four series of banknotes: Orchid series (1967-1976), Bird series (1976-1984), Ship series (1984-1999), and the current Portrait series (1999-present). Unlike many banknotes that feature portraiture, every single denomination features President Yusof bin Ishak (the first President of Singapore). The reverse of the notes feature a representation of a different civic virtue including education, sports, arts, government, economics, garden city (based around keeping Singapore green), and youth.

Fact 1: The lyrics to the national anthem can be found on the back of the $1000 note

Fact 2: The $10,000 bill is the most valuable note currently in circulation in the world (though it is being phased out)


Since the year 2000, the SGD has generally increased in value relative to the USD – while remaining slightly below parity. From a low of 1.8483 SGD to 1 USD on December 28, 2001, the SGD has increased in value to a high a high of 1.2036 SGD to 1 USD on September 2, 2011. Since then its value has fallen somewhat (thanks in part to the recently strong USD), though it has not come anywhere close to the lows of the early 2000’s.

The value of USD.SGD at time of writing (3PM, Oct 16 2015) is 1.3835

singapore dollar us graph exchange rate

SGD to 1 USD over the past 5 years

The value of CAD.SGD at time of writing (3PM, Oct 16 2015) is 1.0715

singapore dollar canadian graph exchange rate CAD SGD

SGD to 1 CAD over the past 5 years


While Singapore is ‘just’ a city, it has a developed, powerful, open, trade-oriented economy that is prone to make waves in both regional and global markets. Capitalism is etched into the Singaporean psyche, with the economy ranked as the most open in the world and the easiest place to do business. This, combined with one of the world’s least corrupt financial systems and governments, makes Singapore a popular place of business for people and companies from around the world.

While the city-state has a lack of valuable natural resources, Singapore has made use of exports (particularly electronics, chemicals, and services) in order to create a thriving economic base. In addition, the Port of Singapore handles the third highest amount of cargo (by tons) in the world.

Beyond Singapore’s reputation as a business hotspot, much of the success can be put down to a very skilled workforce (education is highly important and well-funded) and the hard-working attitude that goes along with the culturally pervasive idea of ‘meritocracy’ (you get what you deserve if you work for it).

singapore dollar coins silver fifty cents 50

Final Thoughts

Thanks to its booming economy, open meritorious culture, and geographic position Singapore, and the Singapore dollar, will likely remain strong.

Whether you need to buy Singapore dollars or any other of over 160 different currencies, we’ve got you covered!

For a broader understanding of Singaporean history and culture check out our Country of the Week profile. For information about traveling to Singapore then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

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