The Republic of Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean that lies off the southeastern coast of Africa. It is the fourth largest island and the second largest island country in the world. Madagascar was formerly known as the Malagasy Republic because most of its inhabitants are Malagasy peoples. The country continues to have strong connections with France and French-speaking countries in western Africa.
Madagascar uses the ariary as its official currency. The Malagasy ariary is one of the two non-decimal currencies that are still in circulation. Ariary is derived from the Spanish word real, which is the name for a silver dollar. The ariary was introduced in 1961 and was equivalent to 5 Malagasy francs. In December 1975, the Second Malagasy Republic was renamed to the Repoblica Demokratika Malagasy. Because of this change, the Banky Foiben’ ny Republica Malagasy was renamed the Banky Foiben’I Madagasikara (Central Bank of Madagascar, BFM). The BFM is in charge of all central bank responsibilities, including issuing banknotes. The first family of banknotes issued by BFM included both franc and ariary denominations, the Marxist coat of arms, and a different member of a typical Malagasy family in front. These notes also had the name of the bank in Malagasy only, the first to not include the French name of the issuing bank. In 1992 the 500 and 5,000 ariary notes were introduced. In 1994, newly designed notes were issued. These notes were significantly more colorful than their predecessors, with colored portraits of Malagasy people in front and colored vignettes of economic activities at the back. When the French switched from francs to euros in 2003, Madagascar also started gradually phasing out the franc by printing the franc denominations in smaller fonts. The franc stopped featuring in banknotes by 2007. The ariary banknotes in 2007 showcased the natural riches of Madagascar. In 2017, the BFM introduced a new family of banknotes with the following denominations: 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 ariary. The theme of the notes is “Madagascar and its Riches”, featuring economic activities, biodiversity, culture, and tourist sites. The notes have security threads, iridescent stripes, a zebu head watermark, and tactile geometric features for the sight-impaired.