In 1991, the people of Eritrea won their independence from Ethiopia. Thirty years of war saw the Eritrea People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and a coalition of rebels took control of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa to end the conflict and lead to a UN negotiated split of the new nation. As a result, in 1993, the EPFL seized power and established a one party rule. Having little option, the new Eritrea used Ethiopian currency until it was able to issue its own in 1997.
Eritrea First Banknotes
Eritrea is one of the poorest and most closed countries in the world. As a result, its initial banknotes are relatively basic. The currency is called Nakfa, after a town in Eritrea which was the site of the first major victory in the Eritrea War of Independence.
The first denominations were 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Nakfa. The banknotes share a common look and theme. On the front are images of 3 local women or girls. In addition, the women’s faces are veiled. Also, the reverse of each note highlights a relevant theme of the country. The 1 nakfa shows a school. The five shows a historic fig tree. The 10 shows a very detailed image of the Eritean railway. The 50 nakfa shows images of camels and farming. As a country with a long sea front, it is not surprising to see a cargo ship on the reverse of the 50 nakfa. The 1997 series was printed by Giesecki and Devrient and used a holographic foil on most denominations.
A reprint was approved in 2004 when the 50 was modified to add a new background color. In addition, a 100 Nakfa was issued. Again, the front shows images of 3 young women. Also the reverse shows a pretty image of old fashion farming. Additional printing was done in 2011 and 2015, where the backgroiund color of the 50 changed, but no significant changes were made to the banknote designs.
As a result of the significant black market and also local counterfeiting, the government issued a new series in 2015 and 2016. The new Nakfa banknotes can be distinguished from the previous version by their colors. Also the images look very similar the previous versions. A security thread was also added.