kazakhstani tenge kazakhstan currency bills notes cash money

Currency Spotlight: Kazakhstani Tenge

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was reluctant to leave the ruble behind. Today however the tenge is a symbol of national pride and is even celebrated during the “Day of National Currency of Republic of Kazakhstan.”

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  • Symbol:
  • Kazakhstan Currency Code: KZT
  • Subunits: tïın/тиын (1/100)
  • Banknotes: 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 tenge
  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 tenge
  • Central Bank: National Bank of Kazakhstan
  • Kazakhstan GDP: $311.074 billion  
  • Inflation: 5.950%

History

Like many Soviet states, Kazakhstan used the Russian ruble while it was part of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the USSR, the State Bank of the USSR (Gosbank) was replaced by The Central Bank of Russia. In 1992, 15 former Soviet countries entered a common currency bloc to encourage economic codependence. From the beginning the situation was doomed to fail, and the members of the currency union knew this. To make the most out of the situation they began issuing huge amounts of credit in coupons valued in Russian rubles. In response the Russian Central bank eventually pulled out of the agreement, effectively forcing Kazakhstan to introduce their own currency.

The tenge was introduced on 15 November 1993 at a rate of 1 tenge to 500 rubles, and the occasion is still marked today as “Day of National Currency of Republic of Kazakhstan.” The first round of notes were printed in the UK and the coins in Germany.

The distinctive tenge symbol (₸) was designated in 2007 after a contest which attracted over 30,000 designs. The winners from Almaty, Vadim Davydenko and Sanzhar Amirkhanov, are officially known as the parents of the tenge, and received 1 million tenge as a prize.

The word Tenge, in Kazakh means  “a set of scales”, it draws on the root word teŋ (meaning “equal”, “balance”). This etymology is similar to that of pound or lira which also refer to units of measurement.

Coins

The first series of coins included 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tiyin, and 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 tenge. The second series came in 1998 and did not include the tiyin, instead the smallest denomination was just 1 tenge. A 100 tenge coin was released in 2002, and a special 2 tenge coin was released in 2005.

Value Edge Obverse Reverse
1 tenge Plain Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan
2 tenge Plain Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan
5 tenge Plain Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan
10 tenge Plain Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan
20 tenge Grooved Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan
50 tenge Grooved Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan
100 tenge Grooved Value Year, Emblem of Kazakhstan 

Notes

The latest series of banknotes were issued in 2011-2014.

Value Colour Obverse Reverse
1000 tenge Yellow, brown, orange, and blue Kazakh Eli monument in Astana (representing independence); pigeons; Emblem of Kazakhstan; Flag of Kazakhstan Borders of Kazakhstan, mountains, landscapes of Ustyurt Plateau
2000 tenge Green Kazakh Eli monument in Astana (representing independence); pigeons; Emblem of Kazakhstan; Flag of Kazakhstan Border of Kazakhstan; Ertis River
5000 tenge Red, blue, yellow, and green Kazakh Eli monument in Astana (representing independence); pigeons; Emblem of Kazakhstan; Flag of Kazakhstan Border of Kazakhsta;  Zailijsky Alatau ridge (in the Tian-Shan mountains); Hotel “Kazakhstan”
10,000 tenge Violet and blue Kazakh Eli monument in Astana (representing independence); pigeons; Emblem of Kazakhstan; Flag of Kazakhstan Palace of the President
20,000 tenge Blue-gray and violet Kazakh Eli monument in Astana (representing independence); pigeons; Emblem of Kazakhstan; Flag of Kazakhstan Palace of the President and government buildings

Value

Until 2013 the tenge was on a managed float, but in September of that year it was decided to peg the currency to the US dollar and the Russian ruble. The Russian ruble began to tumble in value in 2014 which forced the Kazakh National Bank to devalue the currency by 19% against the USD. Finally in August of 2015 the country floated the currency freely, without any restrictions. The move was an important step towards economic liberalisation, but caused the currency to tumble 30%.

  • 1995: 1 USD = 61.11 KZT
  • 2000: 1 USD = 142.26 KZT
  • 2005: 1 USD = 132.88 KZT
  • 2017: 1 USD = 317.13 KZT

Currently the tenge is worth around 0.0042 Canadian dollars.

USD US dollar KZT Kazakhstani tenge

1 KZT to USD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

CAD Canadian dollar KZT Kazakhstani tenge

1 KZT to CAD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

Economy

Kazakhstan is the largest economy in Central Asia thanks in no small part to huge oil reserves and other natural resources. The vast steppes hold significant agricultural potential, and the country has a burgeoning aerospace industry as a result of its role as the launching site for the International Space Station.

The fall of the Soviet Union took a huge economic toll on the country, but by 1995 serious reforms started to take shape, and by 2000 GDP was growing at a rate of nearly 10%. Strong growth thanks to economic reforms and high oil prices benefited the country during the 2000s but in 2014 low oil prices and the Russian annexation of portions of Ukraine took a toll on the economy and caused the currency value to tumble.

Today unemployment stands at just 5%, and the country has announced a new privatisation policy which will run through to 2020 and privatise 60 major companies.

kazakhstani tenge kazakhstan currency bills notes cash money coin 100

Bottom line

As long as Kazakhstan continues along the path of economic reform it will continue to improve its economic position, and that of the tenge. However the country will only achieve real progress once these reforms are matched with similar democratic reforms. Oil prices, and the petroleum industry at large, will also play a major role in the future of Kazakhstan’s economy.


Explore the rest of Kazakhstan with our Country Profile and Travel Guide.

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