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Kyrgyzstan Currency Spotlight

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

The Kyrgyzstani som and the country’s economy are both relatively young, and both rose from the ashes of the Soviet Union. But how have they fared since 1993?

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History and Culture | Travel Guide

  • Currency Code: KGS
  • Subunit: tyiyn (1/100)
  • Coins: 1, 3, 5, 19 som (frequently used), and 1, 10, 50 tyiyn (rarely used)
  • Banknotes: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000, som
  • Kyrgyzstan GDP (nominal): 6.5 billion
  • Inflation: 6.4%
  • Central Bank: National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic

History

During Soviet rule the ruble circulated, but was called the som by Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek speakers, meaning ‘pure’ or ‘pure gold.’

Following the fall of the Soviet Union Kyrgyzstan, like many Soviet republics, initially stayed on the ruble in a monetary union with the new Russian Federation and other republics. However most republics knew that the system would not last. With this knowledge many began issuing huge amounts of credit in rubles, and issuing coupons to protect their own markets. As a result the Russian central bank began imposing credit restrictions between Russia and the republics. By 1993 Russia withdrew from the monetary union.

In 1993 the som was introduced at a rate of 1 som to 200 rubles.

Value

Today the som has fallen in value against the ruble to a rate of 1 som to 0.86 rubles. Since 2013 it has also fallen from above 0.020 USD to 0.015 USD. 1 KGS is worth 0.018 CAD.

USD US dollar KGS Kyrgyzstani som

CAD Canadian dollar KGS Kyrgyzstani som

Notes

The most recent series of banknotes was introduced in 2009 and 2010.

Value Colour Obverse Reverse
20 som Red Togolok Moldo Tash Rabat
50 som Orange Kurmanjan Datka Minaret and mausoleum
100 som Blue Toktogul Satylganov Toktogul Hydroelectric Power Station
200 som Yellow Alykul Osmonov Lake Issyk-Kul
500 som Violet Sayakbay Karalaev Manas Mausoleum
1,000 som Grey-green Jusup Balasagyn Takhti Sulaiman, Mount Sulaiman
5,000 som Green Suimenkul Chokmorov Ala-Too Square

Coins

Growing demand for slot machines, vending machines, and collecting fares led to the introduction of the coins which only began to circulate in January of 2008.

Value Obverse Reverse Description Note
1 tyin Flower Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Brass-plated steel Rarely used
10 tyin Flower Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Brass-plated steel Rarely used
50 tyin Flower Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Brass-plated steel Rarely used
1 som Leather bottle, kookor with symbol of a tumar, represented by a triangle Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Nickel-plated steel Frequently used
3 som Leather bottle, kookor with symbol of a tumar, represented by a triangle Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Nickel-plated steel Frequently used
5 som Leather bottle, kookor with symbol of a tumar, represented by a triangle Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Nickel-plated steel Frequently used
10 som Leather bottle, kookor with symbol of a tumar, represented by a triangle Kyrgyzstan’s emblem, country name, year Nickel-plated steel Frequently used

Economy

Kyrgyzstan has a robust agricultural industry producing meat, wool, tobacco, and cotton with the latter two the only large agricultural exports. The country also has large gold, uranium, mercury, and natural gas deposits. In addition to these heavily exported natural resources the country also exports machinery, garments, and shoes. Despite this, Kyrgyzstan is still heavily dependent on remittances.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan has taken positive steps towards market reforms including land reform and a new regulatory structure. As a result, the country was the first of the former Soviet republics to join the World Trade Organisation. Still, corruption remains a major economic roadblock, hindering greater growth.

Unemployment is just 2.3% with about 48% employed by agriculture, 12.5% by industry, and about 40% in the service sector. The country ranks 75th in terms of ease-of-doing business.

kyrgyzstani som kyrgyzstan currency money coins

The bottom line

The som’s value has fallen since it was introduced relative to the ruble. Long term it will be tied to the country’s economy which is heavily reliant on agriculture and resource extraction.


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