Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. It was a key point in the maritime Silk Road, became part of the Portuguese kingdom, the Dutch and the Kingdom of Kandy, and later the British Empire. It gained its independence from the British in 1948 as the Dominion of Ceylon. Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972.

Map of Sri Lanka | Source: Britannica

A Brief History of Sri Lankan Currency

The earliest known Sri Lankan currency is the Ceylonese ridollar. The rixdollar was used in parts of Europe and some Dutch colonies. The British pound replaced the rixdollar at a rate of one pound to 1 1/3 rixdollar in 1825 as the official currency. Eleven years later, in 1836, the British declared the Indian rupee as the official coin of Ceylon as it became part of the Indian currency area. In 1869, the rupee was established as legal tender, and three years later the Indian rupee became the only legal tender of Ceylon.

Sri Lanka 1 Rupee | 1925 | P-16b | Source: Banknote World Educational

Two years after Ceylon officially gained independence from the British in 1948, the Central Bank of Ceylon was established. When the country was renamed Sri Lanka in 1972, the Sri Lankan rupee was officially adopted in 1972.

Central Bank of Sri Lanka

The Central Bank of Ceylon turns into the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in 1985. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is responsible for designing, printing, and distributing Sri Lanka’s banknotes and minting Sri Lankan coins due to the Monetary Control Act.

20 Rupees | 1985 | P-93b | Source: Banknote World Educational

Sri Lankan notes are well-known for their vertically-oriented reverse sides. They are also have cotton stock and raised textures to aid the visually impaired. Sri Lankan notes often have colorful and elaborate designs that feature different architecture, native wildlife, as well as rich cultures. Currently circulating notes come in denominations of 20 rupees, 50 rupees, 100 rupees, 500 rupees, 1,000 rupees, and 5,000 rupees.

20 Rupees | 2010 | P-123a | Source: Banknote World

On the 70th anniversary of Sri Lankan Independence, the Central Bank printed 5 million 1,000 rupee notes to celebrate the occasion. Its obverse side featured the White Four Ring butterfly, a church, a mosque, Tamil Kovil, a Sri Lanka hanging parrot, and also a Celebrating Diversity logo. Its reverse side featured a Davul Bera drummer, a Malpadaya Nefuma dancer, and also a guard stone of naga-raja. The note is green in color and had dimensions of 145 mm x 67 mm.

1,000 Rupees Commemorative | 2018 | Source: Banknote World Educational

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