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Ethiopia / 11 Products

Divided into 100 santims, the birr is the primary unit of currency in Ethiopia. Before Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I formally requested to use the name Ethiopia instead of Abyssinia, and before the Bank of Abyssinia became the Bank of Ethiopia in 1931, the Ethiopian birr was referred to as the Abyssinian birr. When the bank was reorganized as the Bank of Ethiopia, the birr was decimalized and was equal to 100 matonas. The 1932 -1933 issues of banknotes were denominated birr in Amharic and thaler in English. 

In 1932, the bank issued paper bills in denominations of  5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 talaris. Additionally, it issued a 2-talari banknote dated 1 June 1933, featuring Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw.

At the onset of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and Italian occupation in 1936, the Bank of Ethiopia closed and the Ethiopian thaler was replaced with the Italian lira. In 1945, the birr was reintroduced with the name “Ethiopian dollar” used in the English text on the banknotes. 

Emperor Haile Selassie I's image graced the majority of Ethiopian birr banknotes until the issuance of 1976 banknotes. Following a devastating famine that afflicted the nation from 1972 to 1974, the emperor faced a dramatic turn of events. On September 12, 1974, the military overthrew him, and he passed away in captivity in August 1975. Consequently, his portrait was removed from subsequent banknotes, and replaced with a young boy on the 1 birr note, a man harvesting coffee on the 5 birr paper bill, a woman weaving a basket on the 10 birr, science students and a teacher on the 50 birr note, and Emperor Menelik II on the 100-birr bill. 

On September 14, 2020, the country announced the introduction of 10, 50, 100, and 200-birr banknotes. The obverse of these notes display coffee harvesting and a camel, a tractor,  the Enqulal Gemb fortress in Gondar, and a pigeon respectively. Their reverse depicts two couples, a factory, Sof Omar caves and the City gate, and a capricorn.

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