Five years after the Soviet Union dissolved, Ukraine established its own national currency—the hryvnia. The hryvnia (also spelled as hryvnya or grivna) was adopted in 1996. One hryvnia is equivalent to 100 kopiykas. The word “hryvnia” was used by the Kyiv Rus to mean a decoration worn at the nape. It was also used as a unit of weight and counting when paying tributes and in trading.  

Kiev, Ukraine Scenic City View | Source: AS

Adoption Of the Ukraine Hryvnia

Prior to the official adoption of the hryvnia, Ukraine used the Soviet Ruble and the karbovanet as its currency. In 1992, the karbovanet was declared the sole legal tender in Ukraine. Two years later, the government of Ukraine launched its own paper mill.  

USSR 1 Ruble | Source: Banknote World

The hryvnia replaced the karbovanet at a rate of 1:100,000 on September 2, 1996. Early hryvnia notes were designed by two Ukrainian artists: Vasyl Lopata and Borys Maksymov. Early hryvnia notes were printed by the Canadian Banknote Company in 1992 and by Thomas De La Rue in 1994.  

Ukraine 1 Karbovanets | 1991 | P-81a | Source: Banknote World

Early Issues

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) currently issues and prints Ukrainian banknotes. When the hryvnia was adopted, the NBU issued the following denominations: 1 hryvnia, 2 hryvni, 5 hryvni, 10 hryvni, 20 hryvni, 50 hryvni, and 100 hryvni. These notes featured prominent Ukrainian royalty and landmarks.  

In 1994, the bank issued redesigned notes with more colors and enhanced security features. They were printed by the paper mill of the National Bank and still featured the same people and landmarks as the preceding series.

Ukraine 1 Hryvnia | 1994 | P-108as | Source: Banknote World Educational

In 2003, the National Bank issued another series of redesigned notes. It introduced the 200 hryven note in 2007 and the 500 hryven note in 2006. These notes had gradually increasing dimensions, featured great Ukrainians who influenced the course of history and culture, cultural vignettes, and landmarks, and enhanced security features. The bank also ceased the production of 1, 2, 5, and 10 hryven notes in 2018, replacing these banknotes with coins.  

The green 20 hryven note was part of the 2003 series. It featured prominent Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko in front and the Theater of Opera and Ballet in Lviv, the statue of a winged woman holding a fern that is found on the roof of the Theater, and the NBU logo at the back. The note has a solid security thread with demetalized 20 GRN and trident. It also has a watermark that shows Ivan Franko and an electrotype 20.  

Ukraine 1 Hryvnia | 2014 | P-116Ac | Source: Banknote World

Modern Series

In 2014, the NBU issued a new series of banknotes. These notes had enhanced security features including windowed security threads and SPARK features. The notes featured prominent writers, historians, artists, and scientists in front and landmarks at the back. The 1,000 hryven note was introduced in 2019.  

The blue 1,000 hryven note is the largest denomination in circulation. Its front side Vladimir Vernadsky, the founder of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and one of the founders of the fields of geochemistry, biogeochemistry, and radiogeology. Its back features the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Other security features include a motion windowed security thread, a solid security thread with demetalized 1000 GRN and trident, and a watermark of Vladimir Vernadsky and an electrotype 1000.  

Ukraine 500 Hriven | 2021 | P-127c | Source: Banknote World Educational

Also in 2014, the region of Crimea formally adopted the Russian Ruble as its currency following its annexation to Russia. The Russian government announced that the region of Crimea could continue using the hryvnia as a parallel currency until the end of 2015.  

In 2021, the bank issued a commemorative series celebrating the 30th anniversary of Ukrainian independence. These notes have the same design as the 2014 series but have overprints of the 30th independence day logo added in front. 

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