Ukraine (Ukraina) is an Eastern European country that is bordered by Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea to the south, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary to the west, Belarus to the north, and Russia to the east. It is the second largest country in Europe. It was successively dominated by Poland-Lithuania, Russia, and USSR. After the two World Wars, it became part of the Soviet Union. Ukraine gained full independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and helped found the Commonwealth of Independent States, an association of former republics of the Soviet Union. Though Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters and retains the third largest military in Europe, it is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Five years after achieving its independence in 1996, Ukraine achieved economic stability. In the early 21st century, Ukraine’s economy began to grow. However, this economic growth contracted due to its armed conflict with Russia.
When Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, it adopted the karbonavets as its official currency. One karbonavet was equivalent to 100 kopiyok. The National Bank of Ukraine does all the central bank duties in Ukraine. The karbonavet banknotes, also known as coupon notes, were of the same size, lacked serial numbers and signatures, and featured the same images: a statue of Lybid in Navodnystsky Park and the Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv. These coupons were printed by the Imprimerie Speciale de Banque in France. These notes were withdrawn in September 1996. The current monetary unit, the hryvnia, replaced the karbonavet in 1996 at a rate of 1:100,000. One hryvnia is equivalent to 100 kopiyok. The National Bank of Ukraine issued two different families of hryvnia notes. The 1992 dated notes were printed by the Canadian Banknote Company, while the 1994 dated notes were printed by both Thomas De La Rue and the National Bank of Ukraine’s Banknote and Coin Mint. The notes highlighted different notable Ukrainians on the obverse side and iconic landmarks of different Ukrainian provinces on the reverse side. In 1994, the notes were redesigned with more colors and heightened security features. Nine years later, the hryvnia notes were redesigned with different portraits of Ukrainian figures and views of the provincial landmarks. An enhanced family of banknotes began circulating in 2014. These notes had stronger security features like SPARK features and windowed security threads. The National Bank of Ukraine replaced 1, 2, 5, and 10 hryvnia notes with coins and introduced a revised 20 hryvnia note and the 1,000 hryvnia note in 2018. The enhanced 50 hryvnia note was introduced in 2019. The last note in the enhanced family to be introduced was the 200 hryvnia note. The enhanced family of banknotes was completed in 2020.
The National Bank of Ukraine issued commemorative issues in 2011, 2016, 2021, and 2022. The 50 hryvnia note from 2011 commemorates the 20th anniversary of the National Bank and features Mikhailo Hrushevskiy and the Tsentralna Rada (House of the Teacher) building in Kyiv. The 20 hryvnia note from 2016 commemorates the 160th anniversary of Ivan Franko and features the portrait of the writer and the Opera and Ballet Theater. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of independence in 2021, the National Bank of Ukraine issued a commemorative series. These notes feature different national heroes and landmarks and have enhanced security features and the 30th-anniversary logo. A separate 500 hryvnia commemorative note was also issued in 2021 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Grigoriy Skovoroda. In 2023, the bank issued a commemorative 20 hryvnia note to memorialize the first anniversary of the outbreak of the armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.