Zaire was a Central African country that existed between 1971 and 1997. It was the largest territory in the Sub-Saharan region and was the most populated Francophone country in the continent. The country was established after the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko in a military coup in 1965. Its capital city, Kinshasa, is the largest city in the region. It is located in the Congo River and is the official hub for the administrative, cultural, and economic activities of the country. In modern-day, the country is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Because of Zaire’s hyperinflation and the reduction of mineral production, the country has become one of the poorest in the world. Zaireans rely heavily on subsistence farming and small-scale trading. As banknotes have almost lost their value, hard currency was widely accepted in most formal business dealing and a barter economy had become common. Additionally, the country was not able to meet its financial liabilities to the IMF. Despite having unclear short-term projects for economic improvement, better political stability would improve the exploitation of its mineral reserves and agricultural land.

The Zairean zaire was the currency of the country, divided into 100 makuta. It was launched in 1967 to replace the Congolese franc. Most Zairean zaire banknotes feature the portrait of Mobutu Sese Seko wearing a uniform with a cap. Its first issues were introduced between 1972 and 1978 and were printed by Giesecke & Devrient in Munich, Germany.

In 1993, inflation was estimated at 3,000% which prompted the Bank of Zaire to revalue the currency and introduce the Nouveau Zaire series at a rate of one nouveau Zaire to three million zaires. Between 1993 and 1994, there were some banknotes printed by Ciccone Calcografica in Argentina bearing the imprint of Hotel des Monnaies and were put in circulation without authorization from the Bank of Zaire. Thus, there were banknotes of the same date, value, and serial numbers but from different printers.

On July 1, 1998, the Nouveau zaire was replaced by the Congolese franc after the country was again renamed The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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