The Republic of Madagascar is an island country that lies off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It is the second-largest island country and the fourth-largest island by area in the world. Because most of the inhabitants of Madagascar are Malagasy people, it was formerly known as the Malagasy Republic. It was once a colony of France. The Malagasy Republic became an autonomous state within the French Community and became fully independent in March 1960. The country continues to have strong connections with France and French-speaking countries in Western Africa. Its economy is largely reliant on its well-established agricultural industry and emerging tourism, textile, and mining industries. Though Madagascar has a lot of natural resources, political instability negatively impacted its economy. As a result, Madagascar has one of the highest poverty rates in the world.
Madagascar uses the ariary as its official currency. One ariary is equivalent to 5 iraimbilanja. The word ariary is derived from the Spanish real. Meanwhile, the word iraimbilanja means “one iron weight”. As of 2021, the iraimbilanja is obsolete due to its very low value (less than US$ 0.005) and coin disuse. The ariary was introduced in 1961 at a rate of 5 francs to one ariary. It is one of the two non-decimalized currencies that are still in circulation.
The Banky Foiben’I Madagasikara (Central Bank of Madagascar, BFM) is in charge of all central bank responsibilities. It is also the only bank to have issuing authority in Madagascar. The first family of notes issued by the BFM was in both ariary and franc. These notes had the Marxist coat of arms, a different member of the typical Malagasy family, and the name of the Central Bank in Malagasy only. It was the first family of notes to not include the French name of the issuing bank. In 1994, a new family of notes was introduced. These notes had a more complex color scheme, featured colored portraits of Malagasy people, and showcased economic activities.
When the French switched from the franc to the euro in 2003, the BFM started phasing out the franc in Madagascar. Four years later, the franc was completely phased out of circulation and printing. In 2007, a new family of ariary notes was introduced. These notes highlighted the natural riches of Madagascar. In 2017, the BFM introduced a new family of notes with the theme “Madagascar and Its Riches”. The denominations in the family were: 100 ariary, 200 ariary, 500 ariary, 1,000 ariary, 2,000 ariary, 5,000 ariary, 10,000 ariary, and 20,000 ariary. These notes featured economic activities, biodiversity, culture, and tourist sites. They also had upgraded security features including security threads, iridescent stripes, zebu head watermarks, and tactile geometric features for the sight-impaired.