The Republic of Kenya is situated in Eastern Africa, bordered by Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the northwest, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast. The country is one of the largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa with agriculture as its largest sector. Tourism is also a major contributor to the country’s economy.
The Kenyan shilling has been the currency of Kenya since September 14, 1966, replacing the East African shilling at the same rate. The obverse of Kenyan banknotes bears a portrait of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who served as the first prime minister and president of the country. On the back design are diverse economic activities. In 1978, the Central Bank of Kenya released another set of notes with similar designs but the denomination under the coat of arms on the front is no longer spelled out. After the death of Kenyatta on August 22, 1978, the notes were withdrawn but were reissued in December 1993 and in January 1994 because of the scarcity of notes.
A new set of notes were issued after the inauguration of Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi as the Republic of Kenya’s second president on August 22, 1978. These banknotes display a portrait of Moi and roses that reflect the significance of cut flowers to the export economy of the country. In 1993, a 20-shilling banknote was released bearing an Olympic medal and a runner to honor Kenyan athletes who won eight medals during the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. The runner on the note, although not identified, looks like William Tanui who is the only Kenyan athlete to get a gold medal in the track competition. In 1994, banknotes that carry a new portrait of President Moi, Mount Kenya, a lion, and an elephant. These notes are the first to use novel serial numbering.
When Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi was replaced by Mwai Kibaki as president on December 30, 2002, a new family of notes featuring an old picture of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was released.
In 2019, new Kenyan shilling banknotes were unveiled. Each note depicts the Kenyatta International Conference Center on the obverse design while the reverse highlights one of the big five: elephant, leopard, buffalo, lion, and rhinoceros. Each banknote comes with its own theme, showcasing the magnificence of the country’s people and nature. The 50 shillings boasts of Kenya’s Green Energy. The 100 shillings represents its agriculture, the 200 shillings focuses on its social services aspect, the 500 shillings on tourism, and the 1,000 shillings on governance.