Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Earth, Saudi Arabia, Southwest Asia

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

A guide to transliteration of Arabic numerals follows below:

The front of our banknote shows a serial number in Arabic on the top left and the same serial number on the descending down the far right in English.  The year 1433 of the Islamic calendar appears in the lower left of the front of our banknote.  The corresponding year 2012 of the Gregorian calendar appears in the lower left of the back of our banknote.

Africa, Cameroon, Central Africa, Earth

Cameroon – 500 Francs – Year 2002

Cameroon 500 Francs Year 2002

A lovely classroom scene is featured on the obverse of our Cameroon 500 franc banknote.  It appears as if a classroom demonstration is taking place, with one student at the blackboard illustrating the alphabet to others,  How important education is!  And how commendable that education is being celebrated on our banknote.

The Central Africa CFA franc is a common currency among 6 central Africa states.  The capital “U” in the top left and right corners is what distinguishes this particular banknote as originating from Cameroon.  In 2002, the year of issuance of our banknote, (see back lower right corner), U designated Cameroon, whereas the other 5 nations are designated as follows: T – Republic of Congo, M – Central African Republic, A – Gabon, F- Equatorial Guinea, C- Chad.

Cameroon 500 Francs Year 2002

In the earliest days of independence from the colonial era, 1972-1976, education in Cameroon was split between the French system of teaching with the French language, and the British system of teaching and the English language. The two methods and languages in one country were considered a testament on unity between east Cameroon and West Cameroon. But not only are the languages different, but the logic of the instructional methods are different, and it became recognized that the differences were creating some, perhaps unnecessary, confusion.  English is now the primary language in education in Cameroon.  The constitution of Cameroon states: “the State shall guarantee the child’s right to education [and that] primary education shall be compulsory“.

Cameroon became a German colony in the late 19th century.  Following Germany’s defeat in WW1, by a League of Nations mandate, France and Great Britain came to control portions of the territory.  Following WW2 an independence movement began and was resisted by the French.  Cameroon gained independence on January 1, 1960.

Africa, Earth, Libya, Northern Africa

Libya – Tripolitania – 10 Lire – Year 1943 – WW2

Tripolitanian Lira, era WW2, 20th century

“Issued by the Military Authority in Tripolitania” reads our banknote prominently across the obverse top center.  The Tripolitanian Lira was issued in this region under British command, generally now known as Libya, during and immediately following World War 2.  It was replaced in 1952 with the Libyan pound, Libya having become independent the preceding year, 1951.  Tripoli today is the largest city in Libya., Benghazi being the second largest city.

Tripolitania, on the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa, is a region populated since time immemorial, and prominent since, at least, the Carthaginian empire, a great competitor of the early Roman empire.  A city, on the site of present day Tripoli, was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC; and was subsequently overtaken by the Greeks and then the Carthaginians.  With the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Tripolitania came under the governance of Rome until the Fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.  The 8th century Muslim Conquest brought Tripolitania under the influence of Islam, and the 15th century Ottoman Conquest brought it into the new empire.

A military coup d’etat brought Omar Gaddafi to power in 1969.  Gaddafi ruled until he was overthrown in the 2011 civil war, a part of the Arab Spring.

Tripolitanian Lira

Tripoli has an ancient heritage.  Americans may recall the name in the lyric from the theme song of the Marine division of its armed forces, “..to the shores of Tripoli“.  A Barbary wars fought around Tripoli were perhaps the official first armed conflict of the newly birthed United States.

Africa, Central Africa, Chad, Earth

Chad – 1000 francs – year 2000

Chad 1000 francs year 2000

The front of our banknote features the agriculture of coffee in central Africa.  The coffee flower in the lower left and the coffee fruit in the upper right, then the coffee picking in the upper center and the coffee winnowing in the lower center, all elements of the agriculture so important to Central Africa.  Our banknote is from Chad.  This is indicated by the letter “P” in the top right corner and lower left corner of the front of our banknote.

6 countries participated in the common currency known as the Central African CFA franc at this time.  The images are the same, but each banknote is marked with a country code. For the banknotes issued from 1993 until 2001, the country codes for the 6 participating nations were as follows:
C – Congo, E – Cameroon, F – Central African Republic, L – Gabon, N – Equitorial Guinea, P – Chad
For the banknotes issued in 2002, the country codes for the 6 participating nations were as follows:
T – Congo, U – Cameroon, M – Central African Republic, A – Gabon, F – Equitorial Guinea, C – Chad

The first two digits of the serial number identify the year of issuance. So, for example, the serial number on our banknote from Chad, above, is 0058189410. The first two digits are 00. This indicates that the year of issuance is the year 2000. Had the year of issuance been 1997, the first two digits would be 97.

Chad 1000 francs year 2000

The logging industry is featured on the reverse of this banknote from Chad.  Appropriate trees are selected and felled in the forest.  Then they are topped and delimbed and cut into transportable logs.  The image on our banknote shows five men, equipped with tools of the trade, guiding their prepared logs on the waterways of Central Africa to the preplanned spot where a transport truck is waiting.

The beautiful hardwoods from the equatorial rainforests of Central Africa are prized around the world.

Chad 1000 francs year 2000

The six participant countries are indicated in this map on our banknote.

Chad is at the top of this map.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chad 1000 francs year 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chad 1000 francs year 2000

 

Africa, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Earth

Central African Republic – 5/100 francs – Year 1987

Central African Republic

Our banknote featured wood carvings and a wood carver.

Central African Republic

The Republic of Central Africa.

The territory is beautiful.  Modern exploratory research indicates it is rich in natural resources below the ground in addition to its large swaths or arable land.

Its history is ancient with evidence of inhabitants dating back 10 millenia at least.

The landlocked country was ultimately penetrated by the Atlantic slave trade as was so much of West Central Africa.

France colonized the region about 150 years ago and the boundaries by which it is now known then began to take shape.

Independence was gained from France in 1960 and its present boundaries set.

The Central African Republic is among the very poorest of our world. The following measures were taken in the last half of the 2nd decade of the 21st century by various international agencies.  The Central African Republic rates:

a) the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017.
b) the country had the lowest level of human development, ranking 188th out of 188 countries.
c) It is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country
d) It is the worst country in which to be young.

What shall we do?  today?

 

Africa, Earth, Gambia, Western Africa

The Gambia – 5 Dalasis

Gambia

A young Gambian lady graces the front of this banknote of Gambia.  Adjacent to her is an image of the giant kingfisher bird of Gambia.  The giant kingfisher, pictured at rest, and also in flight in a smaller image to the left, can be 18 inches long and resides throughout sub-Sahara Africa.

Gambia

A scene with cattle and herders, in a meadow with palm trees in the background, is on the back of our banknote.

The Gambia River with outline of The Gambia

Properly called The Gambia, (like The Bahamas), Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal, except for a brief Atlantic Ocean coast.  The land of The Gambia is completely dominated by the mighty Gambia River flowing due West into the Atlantic ocean from the mountains in the East.  The river is navigable for almost 1000 kilometers inland from the ocean and thus invited early explorers.  The Portuguese, the earliest known European explorers, traveling South from Portugal, first encountered and explored the somewhat parallel running Senegal River in the North.  A decade later, they rounded Cape Verde, the westernmost point of the African continent and encountered and began the exploration of the river Gambia.  A century or so later, the French and the British exploratory endeavors began to overshadow those of the Portuguese and Spanish, and the French settled the regions around the Senegal River and the British settled the Gambia River territory.

The island in at the mouth of the river, now known as Kunta Kinteh Island, has been designated as a world UNESCO heritage site.  The first European settlers arrived in the late 1500s from Holland, but in 1664 the island was ceded to the British.  Thereafter, if not before, it became integral to the African Slave Trade.  The island itself became well known through the influential Alex Haley broadcast Roots.  Kunte Kinteh is the name of a character described in Roots.

The date of our banknote not known exactly, but the features on the front and back were known to occur on 1996 and 2006 issues of the 5 dalasis banknote, and therefore likely all of the intervening years too..  The 2015 issue of the 5 dalasis banknote is pretty much the same on the front and back except that the image of the happy young lady is replaced with the image of the then president, Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh seized power in 1994 in a coup d’e’tat and ruled for 22 years until he fled the land in 2017 following an electoral defeat.  So the 2015 banknote image shows him near the conclusion of his reign.  Today his administration stands accused of perpetrating violence against the people including executions tortures and rapes.  A truth and reconciliation commission was established October 15, 2018 to further the healing of the nation.

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Earth, Eastern Africa, Tanzania

Tanzania – 500 Shilingi

Tanzania

A Bountiful Harvest of Coffee is celebrated artistically on our banknote.  On the left is a broad view of a well organized farm.  On the right is detail of the coffee plant and fruit.  At center is a large coffee plant and at left the coffee fruit is being separated.

Tanzania

The zebra and giraffe adorn our banknote, and, at center is the coat of arms of Tanzania.

Tanzania coat of arms

The central shield bears four images from top to bottom: the enflamed torch, the flag of Tanzania, a crossed axe and hoe, a spear over a pattern of waves.

The shield rests upon the image of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The shield is surrounded on the left and right with the tusks of the elephant.

The shield is upheld by a man standing upon a plant of cloves, and a woman standing upon a plant of cotton.

Beneath them is the unfurled banner with the motto of the nation, Freedom and Unity in Swahili.

The giraffe looks out at us from our banknote of Tanzania.  We cannot see the totality of our graceful creature, but if we were to zoom out, we would find that we would have to zoom out more than for perhaps any other land-based living mammal.  Our giraffe is, likely, a Masai giraffe, the largest subspecies of the entire giraffe family, residing in southern Kenya and, our, Tanzania.  The Masai giraffe is also known as the Kilimanjaro giraffe.  As Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, so the Masai giraffe is the tallest mammal on the earth.  Our giraffe can be 19 feet tall, and, with its 6 foot long legs, can run at about 35 miles per hour..

The coat patterns vary among the various giraffe subspecies, the masai giraffe’s spots being somewhat more jagged than jagged.  It is believed that no two individual’s spot patterns are identical and thus individuals may be identified.

The Masai giraffe is generally found in Tanzania and Kenya and Somalia and Ethiopia.

Africa, Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Earth

Democratic Republic of the Congo – 20 Francs – Year 2003

Central African Republic

The majestic profile announces the featured subject of our banknote, The Lion Family.

Kundelungu is a National park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo established in 1970.

Central African Republic

Kundelungu National Park is mentioned on the face of our banknote, captioned beneath the lioness and her cubs.  Kundelungu National Park was constituted in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the southeastern sector, near to southern border with Zambia.

The Congo Lion has been proposed as a lion subspecies, but is not so accepted at this time.  Lions range in DR Congo, Uganda and Burundi, and the region is considered a potential stronghold for lions if the poaching can be stopped.  Presently, lion populations are considered stable in only a few remaining reagions in Botswana and Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.  Lions are suffering from poaching and diminishing habitat.

 

 

Africa, Earth, Northern Africa, Sudan

Sudan – 2 Pounds – Year 2011

Sudan, 2011, 2 pounds banknote

Musical instruments and musical scores adorn this side of our banknote from Sudan.

The story of Sudan, the southern neighbor of Egypt, traces back, at the least, to the age of the Pharoahs.  At the end of the colonial era, it was under British control, from which it gained independence in 1953, in the rearrangement of all things following the wars of the 20th century.

2011, the year of our banknote, is also the year of the dissolution of Sudan’s union with much of its southern populace.  This dissolution was the climax of two civil wars, the first of which commenced in 1955, 2 years after independence from Britain, and the second of which commenced in 1983, 11 years after the end of the first, but widely regarded as a continuation of the 1st civil war.  The South seceded and has been recognized internationally as a new nation, South Sudan.

 

Sudan, 2011, 2 pounds banknote

Sudanese pottery is featured on our banknote.

 

Africa, Atlantic Ocean, Earth, Island Nations, Sao Tome & Principe, Western Africa

Sao Tome & Principe – 5000 Dobras – Year 2013 – Rei Amador

Sao Tome & Principe

Rei Amador, an inspiring symbol of freedom and self-determination, is named and featured on our 2013 banknote.  In 1595 Rei Amador led the slave rebellion, known as the Maafa Revolt, on San Tome against the Portuguese.  On July 9, 1595, boldly, in the face of the Portuguese invaders, he raised a flag and proclaimed himself as king of Sao Tome and Principe.  Half of the enslaved population rallied to him and fought against the Portuguese, but the superior weaponry of the Portuguese overmastered the rebellion.  Rei Amador is considered the forerunner of all of the African Abolitionists; the predecessor of Toussaint Louverture of Haiti, Nzumbi of Brazil, Samory Toure of Guinea and Francois Makandal of Saint-Domingue.

The beautiful papa figo bird adorns the same side of our banknote.

Sao Tome & Principe 5000 banknote

The national coat of arms is represented on the front of our banknote.

The central shield is upheld by a falcon on the left and a parrot on the right.

A star rests above the shield.

The banner below the shield displays the motto of the nation: Unity, Discipline, Work.

 

Africa, Earth, Sierra Leone, Western Africa

Sierra Leone – 1000 Leones – Year 2013 – Bai Bureh

Sierra Leone 1000 leones banknote date 2013

Bai Bureh, the great Warrior of Sierra Leone, is named and featured on our 2013 banknote of Sierra Leone.

To me, his image on our banknote is quite striking, more so than the images of most any other leader on most any other banknote I have observed.  Bai Bureh’s image resembles that of the classic jester of the courts of Europe of the middle ages.  Sometimes it was only the jester that could be sufficiently daring to point out the folly of the ruler; and Bai Bureh, perhaps more than anyone in Africa, caused their overlords, the British to turn in circles.  At the end of this post, the reader will find the only known photograph of Bai Bureh, taken in 1898 as he sits peacefully, under arrest, with his unmistakable impish grin.  One can sense that his guard adores him.  He is revered to this day in Sierra Leone.

In his youth, his father sent him to a nearby small village for training in the craft of warriors.  His training elders recognized in young Bai superior innate abilities.  They named him Kebalai, the Warrior who never tires of War.  Not long after his return to his village he was named ruler of the village.  In succeeding years he defeated this and that territory and led his followers to victory over invaders and afterwards restoring the territory to the rightful inhabitants.  The people recognized in Bar Bureh a true leader and rallied around him and crowned him leader of Northern Sierra Leone in 1886.  He was 46 years of age.

As the British extended their power and during the Scramble for Africa, Bar Bureh continually resisted and evaded them.  He refused to acknowledge their treaties and he refused to pay their taxes.  Bar Bureh wanted the British to go home to Britain and let the Sierra Leone’s manage their own affairs.  Soon the British sent the military after him, but his superior knowledge of the terrain and innate brilliant skill allowed him to evade the British time and time again.

His humor delighted his followers and appears to have charmed his enemies.  Upon the British governor’s offer of 100 pounds for information leading to the capture of Bai Bureh, Bureh issued an offer of 500 pounds for the capture of the British governor.

The story is told that upon his capture, the British treated him as a political prisoner, rather than a military captive.  Subsequently, rather than executing in the manner routine in that era, he was sent into exile in a neighboring country, some historians suggesting that all of this treatment indicated the respect of Mr. Bai Bureh by the British army.

Today, Bai Bureh is considered by many military historians as the pioneer of modern guerilla warfare methods.

 

Sierra Leone

 

Bai Bureh, seated, upon his arrest in 1898

 

The photo at left is the only known photo of Mr. Bai Bureh, the Great Hero of Sierra Leone.  A remarkable and delightful article on the recent discovery and authentication of this sole photograph is online here, and I certainly urge the reader to read that article.

The photo at left if from wikipedia and attributed as follows:

By Lieutenant Arthur Greer – http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/57097, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28429122

 

Africa, Burkina Faso, Earth, Western Africa

Burkina Faso – 5000 Francs – Year 2002

Burkina Faso (2002) 5000 francs front

The capital letter “C” in the top right corner and on lower left area of our banknote is the indicator that this West Africa banknote originates in Burkina Faso.  This CFA franc is backed by the treasury of France and is a common currency for 8 West African countries.  These countries as of the date of this post are Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Mali, Niger and Senegal.

The artwork is striking and sets these banknotes among the most beautiful in the world.   The artist is Pierrette Lambert, who developed the art for numerous banknotes.1

In the background center is a uranium smelting plant.

Burkina Faso (2002) 5000 francs

On the reverse of our banknote we are treated to a typical local market scene.

Africa, Earth, Lesotho, Southern Africa

Lesotho – 5 Maloti – Year 1989

Lesotho

Lesotho, “the land of the people who speak Sesotho”1
Depicted on the front of our banknote is King Moshoeshoe of Lesotho.  Moshoeshoe presided as king in Lesotho during the era in which Lesotho gained full independence from Great Britain in 1966.

Lesotho

The waterfalls depicted on our banknote our located in very remote territory, and, consequently, seen by very few people.. This is the Maletsunyane Falls of Lesotho, on the river of the same name.

The banknote featured is Lesotho, 5 maloti, dated 1989.  The currency is named loti, plural is maloti.

Lesotho celebrates its Independence Day on October 4.  In 1966, Lesotho declared its independence from Great Britain.

Lesotho Coat of Arms

The coat of arms of Lesotho is featured on our banknote.

The central crocodile is featured on a Basotho shield, the symbol for the largest ethnicity in Lesotho.  This symbol has been retained from Basutoland which preceded the establishment of Lesotho.

The shield is upheld by two Basotho horses.

Two weapons, the knobkierie club and the assegai spear are crossed behind the shield.  Vertically between them is a thyrsus tipped with ostrich feathers.

Peace, Rain, Prosperity, the motto of Lesotho, is written on the banner below.

Uncategorized

Angola 2012 – 5 Kwanza – Year 2012

Angola, 5 kwanza banknote, dated 2012

Conjoined busts of Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Antonio Agostinho Neto, two presidents of Angola.
António Agostinho Neto (17 September 1922 – 10 September 1979) served as the 1st President of Angola (1975–1979), having led the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in the war for independence (1961–1974). Until his death, he led the MPLA in the civil war (1975–2002). Known also for his literary activities, he is considered Angola’s preeminent poet. His birthday is celebrated as National Heroes’ Day, a public holiday in Angola.1
José Eduardo dos Santos, born 28 August 1942)[2] is an Angolan politician who served as President of Angola from 1979 to 2017. As President, José Eduardo dos Santos was also the commander in chief of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) and President of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the party that has ruled Angola since it gained independence in 1975. He was the second-longest-serving president in Africa, surpassed only by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, who took power less than two months before dos Santos.2

Angola, 5 kwanza banknote, 2012

The Ruacana waterfalls are featured on the back of our banknote.  The Ruacana falls are on the Kuene river which forms much of the border between Angola to the North and its neighbor Namibia to the South.

 

Angola Coat of Arms

The Angola coat of arms is featured on our banknote.

Central is the machete and the hoe, symbols of revolution and agricultural workers.

The star rising represents progress.

The right half of the circle is a cog, or gear, symbolic of industrial workers.  The left half of the circle is a wreath of maize and cotton leaves, symbolic of agricultural workers.

The banner is Portuguese for Republic of Angola.

Angola celebrates its independence day November 11.  November 11, 1975 is the date of independence from Portugal.

 

Earth, Indian Ocean, Island Nations, Mauritius

Mauritius – 25 Rupees – Year 2013

Mauritius

The dodo bird featured prominently on the front and back of our banknote.  The dodo was unique to this island in the Indian ocean,1 1200 miles from the coast of Africa, and apparently first observed by Dutch sailors in 1598.

Moilin Jean Ah-Chuen (1911-1991) is a Chinese Mauritian politician. He was became First Chinese Cabinet Minister on 1967-1976 and First Chinese Member, Legislative Council on 1949. He was decorated by Pope John Paul II and knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II.[1] His father, Chu Wei Chuen, arrived in Mauritius from Meizhou, Guangdong, China on 1887.[2]

Mauritius
Africa, Central Africa, Earth

Central African CFA franc

Currency of Gabon, back

The entire italicized text below is taken from Wikipedia (see reference below) and included in this website for reference.

The Central Africa CFA franc (XAF) is known in French as the Franc CFA, where CFA stands for Coopération financière en Afrique centrale (“Financial Cooperation in Central Africa”). It is issued by the BEAC (Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale, i.e., “Bank of the Central African States”), located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for the six countries of the CEMAC (Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale, i.e., “Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa”):
Cameroon
Central African Republic
Chad
Congo-Brazzaville
Equatorial Guinea
Gabon
These six countries have a combined population of 45.0 million people (as of 2013), and a combined GDP of US$88.2 billion (as of 2012). In 1975, Central African CFA banknotes were issued with an obverse unique to each participating country, and common reverse, in a fashion similar to euro coins.
Equatorial Guinea, the only former Spanish colony in the zone, adopted the CFA in 1984.1

 

The banknotes are published with the same images for all participating countries.  The country of origination, however, is identifiable by a country code on each banknote.  Tracking these codes is more difficult than for the Western Africa CFA francs, because the country codes may change.  The list below has been compiled from data in the Wikipedia article on the Central African CFA franc. 2

Banknote of Gabon, front. Note the letter “L” in the bottom left corner. This is the country code identifying Gabon as the country of origin for this Central African CFA franc banknote.

The first two digits of the serial number identify the year of issuance.  So, for example, the serial number on our banknote from Gabon, above, is 0015384617.  The first two digits are 00.  This indicates that the year of issuance is the year 2000.  Had the year of issuance been 1997, the first two digits would be 97.

For the banknotes issued from 1993 until 2001, the country codes for the 6 participating nations were as follows:
C – Congo
E – Cameroon
F – Central African Republic
L – Gabon
N – Equitorial Guinea
P – Chad

For the banknotes issued in 2002, the country codes for the 6 participating nations were as follows:
T – Congo
U – Cameroon
M – Central African Republic
A – Gabon
F – Equitorial Guinea
C – Chad

Africa, Earth, Western Africa

West African CFA franc

Benin CFA franc

The italicized text below is taken entirely from Wikipedia (reference at end) and is in this website for reference.

The West African CFA franc (XOF) is known in French as the Franc CFA, where CFA stands for Communauté financière d’Afrique (“Financial Community of Africa”) or Communauté Financière Africaine (“African Financial Community”). It is issued by the BCEAO (Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, i.e., “Central Bank of the West African States”), located in Dakar, Senegal, for the eight countries of the UEMOA (Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, i.e., “West African Economic and Monetary Union”):
Benin
Burkina Faso
Guinea-Bissau
Ivory Coast
Mali
Niger
Senegal
Togo
These eight countries have a combined population of 102.5 million people (as of 2013), and a combined GDP of US$78.4 billion (as of 2012).” 1

Benin CFA franc.  The letter “B” in the upper right corner and the lower left of this banknote is the country code.  This letter, “B”, indicates that this banknote originated in the country of Benin.

The banknotes generally utilize the same images both on the front and the back.  The country of issuance is identifiable by a country code, a single letter.  The country codes are as follows:

A – Ivory Coast
B – Benin
C – Burkina Faso
D – Mali
H – Niger
K – Senegal
T – Togo
S – Guinea-Bissau

Africa, Earth, Eastern Africa, Horn of Africa, Somalia

Somaliland – 5 Shillings – Year 1994

Somalia 1994

Hargeysa 1994 stands out top center of our banknote.  Hargeysa was the capital and 1994 was the year of the first issuance of the Somaliland shilling.  It was issued October 18, 1994, and about a hundred days later, January 31, 1995, the Somali shilling was banned within the borders of the new state, Somaliland.

The “Goodirka” Building housing the Supreme Court of Somaliland is featured on our 5 shilling banknote. The building is in the city of Hargeysa, the largest city in Somaliland, and well as its capital. The beautiful animal on the right is the kudu.

Somalia 1994

Camel Caravan in the foreground with the hills known as Naasa Hablood in the background. The hills are near the capital city Hargeysa, feautured on the other side of our banknote.  Naaso Hablood translates as “girl’s breasts”.1

Somaliland arose out of the political conflict in 1991 that issued in the Somali Civil War.

Somaliland is “a self-declared republic that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. Having established its own local government in 1991, the region’s self-declared independence remains unrecognized by any country or international organization.”2

Africa, Earth, Eastern Africa, Horn of Africa, Somalia, Uncategorized

Somalia – 1000 Shillings – Year 1990 – Muqdisho

Somalia 1990

Muqdisho, as noted on the front of our banknote below the serial number at bottom left center, or Mogadishu, as known in English, translates as “the beautiful place”.  It is a coastal city, the capital and largest city, of Somalia; and it is featured on our banknote.  It is also know locally as Xamar.

Somalia 1990

Two views of Mogadishu are presented on this side of the banknote.  The one is an aerial view of the port and the other is the waterfront.

 

1990, the year of our banknote, was a precipitous year for Mogadishu, perhaps the last of relative peacefulness for a long time.  In 1991, Drought and Famine and Civil War would break out and leave Mogadishu ruined.  Somalia and Mogadishu had been flooded with an estimated 1.5 million refugees from the recent war with Ethiopia.  Siad Barre, president of Somalia since 1969, was forced to flee Mogadishu in January 1991 into exile.  In 1991, May, the northern region of Somalia, north of the tip of the horn of Africa, declared its independence as the Republic of Somaliland.  With the overthrow of the Said government, Somalia and Mogadishu was in the control of competing clansman, armed with the pillaged stores of Somali armaments.  A massive drought began in the Summer of 1991, at least partly a direct military tactic, and was followed by devastating famine.1 The UN sent military observers in 1992 and a significant UN force arrived in December 1992 to bring stability.  15 Somali factions signed a peace agreement in the January and March 993, but by June 1993 security deteriorated and in early 1994 the UN forces withdrew.2

*******************************

Our banknote is dated 1990.  For those curious, the events chronicled in the Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down occurred on October 3 and 4, 1993.  From Military.com, “A year before, U.S. soldiers were deployed to Somalia to support a United Nations humanitarian mission to help with a devastating famine.
Without a government in place, militia and clans were fighting among themselves for power, so President George H.W. Bush sent the troops over to help with more than 1 million people starving from the famine.”3

Africa, Benin, Earth, Western Africa

Benin – 500 Francs – Year 1994

Benin CFA franc
Benin CFA franc

This CFA franc originates in Benin.  The country code on the front of the banknote, top right corner and lower left, indicates this.  The country codes are as follows: A – Ivory Coast; B – Benin; C – Burkina Faso; D – Mali; H – Niger; K –  Senegal; T – Togo; S Guinea-Bissau.1

The first two digits of the serial number indicate the year the banknote was issued.  This banknote was issued in 1994.

The CFA franc began on December 26, 1945.2

Africa, Earth, Liberia, Western Africa

Liberia – 50 Dollars – Year 2016

Front of 50 dollar banknote, Liberia, 2016

The front of our year 2016 banknote features one time President of Liberia, Samuel K. Doe. 1, the first native Head of State in the history of Liberia. 2 The story of President Doe incarnates the dichotomy of Liberia. Samuel K. Doe, born in 1950, become Head of State in 1980 at age 30, died by assassination in 1990 at age 40, and honored on our banknote twenty-six years after that.

Back of 50 dollar banknote, Liberia, 2016

For 133 years previous, the government of Liberia was dominated by the pioneering founders of the country and their descendants. In 1980, that all changed.
The generations-long brew of resentment among indigenous inhabitants of Liberia and the descendants of American transplants informed the thinking of young Samuel Doe. Having joined the army at age 18, and having displayed talent, in 1980, at age 30 he led the squadron which took the palace and killed the President. Naming himself general, Samuel Doe became Head of State at age 30, the first native Head of State in the history of Liberia.

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Flag of Liberia

The flag is modeled after that of the United States of America.  Liberia’s 11 stripes represent the 11 signers of the Lberian Declaration of Independence.  The single star symbolizes African unity.

Coat of Arms of Liberia

The Coat of Arms for Liberia contains numerous symbols of the country’s founding and aspirations.

The sailing ship represents the arrival of freed slaves from the United States.  The plow and the shovel represent dignity and labor.  The palm tree represents royalty; and the rising sun, the birth of the country.  The white dove symbolizes the breath of peace.  The motto of the nation is bannered across the top of the shield, The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here.3

 

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The colonial era began with the voyage of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic ocean in 1492.  What has become known as the Atlantic slave trade, commenced almost simultaneously, and grew with the growth of colonialism.  In 1494, the Pope blessed the Treaty of Tordesillas which effectively divided the New World, outside of Europe, between Spain and Portugal, an indicator of just who were the dominating world powers at that time.  For the next one and one third centuries, the colonial era was largely the story of the Spanish and the Portuguese; and so was the story of the Atlantic slave trade.

Within 10 years of Columbus’ first voyage of 1492, the first African slave arrived in the new Spanish colony.  The year was 1501.  The place was Hispaniola, now known as The Dominican Republic.  The Portuguese began to colonize Brazil in 1532.  Although the Portuguese initiated their slave operations in the new world later than Spain, it wasn’t long before they exceeded Spain in the slave trade.  In fact, by the time of the final abolition of the African Slave Trade, the Portuguese had imported more African slaves into Brazil than any other country did into any other colony.  An estimate has 4 million slaves from Africa arriving in Brazil, 40% of the total number of slaves from Africa in the New World.4  Another million arrived in Spanish colonies.

With the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, ‘the image of Spain’s invulnerability in the Atlantic’5 was also overthrown.  Soon other European nations embarked on colonization programs and, building upon the established economic model, expanded the Atlantic Slave Trade.  These nations included Great Britain, France, Holland and Denmark.  The Dutch transported their first slaves to colonies in 1637 and the British in 1641.  And then the British were among the first nations to abolish slavery in1808, followed soon by Holland in 1814.6Spain abolished slavery in 1818 and Portugal in 1858.  Approximately 4% of the total Atlantic slave trade arrived in the territories now under the governance of the United States.

Slaves were transported to the United States territory, both before and after the founding of the country.  Modern estimates from various sources often range around 400,000 souls in total7 8 9., with about 25% arriving following the ratification of the Constitution, and 99% of that latter number to the southern states of the country.10

The spreading views of The Enlightenment combined with Christian sentiments to fuel political movements against slavery in the early history and prehistory of the United States. These views rang out in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson in 177611 and the 2nd Inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln12 almost 100 years later.
In the early years after the founding of the United States of America, a movement developed out of concern for the slavery dilemma. By this time, slavery as an institution was well established, particularly in the agricultural oriented states of the South. And, in the natural evolution of things, there were people who defended slavery, people who attacked slavery, people who were slaves, and people who were free men now and formerly slaves. What to do? What is to be Done? Liberia was an early answer to this question. Liberia. The very name means Liberty. Liberia.

An early movement was known as American Colonization Society led directly to the founding of our nation Liberia.  In 1822 the ACS formed a colony on the West coast of Africa with the intent to found a nation for free African Americans.  The concept was that freedom there would be better than emancipation within the United States.  The concept had supporters and detractors across the spectrum, but the colony was established and in 1847 declared independence as the country of Liberia, about a decade and a half before the American Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War.  By 1867, just after the end of the American Civil War, 13,000 people had emigrated to Liberia from the United States..

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The map below is from the website database www.slavevoyages.org.  Select tab “Assessing the Slave Trade”, and, from the drop down menu, select “Introductory Maps“, and got to Map 9: Volume and direction of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from all African to all American regions

Map 9: Volume and direction of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from all African to all American regions

 

I would sincerely welcome your suggestions for improvement to this article.  Thank you.

Africa, Earth, French West Africa, Senegal, Western Africa

Senegal – 5 Francs – Year 1949

French West Africa

The CFA franc was introduced in 1945.  The letter “K appearing twice on the front of our banknote is the distinguishing mark that identifies Senegal as the country of origin.  The other countries sharing the CFA franc, with their identifying marks are: Côte d’Ivoire / Ivory Coast “A”; Benin “B”; Burkina Faso “C”; Mali “D”; Niger “H”; Togo “T” and Guinea-Bissau “S”. Senegal, as stated, has “K” as the identifying mark.1

 

French West Africa

The back of our banknote features canoes, men, and, the river.  It is thought by many that the origin of the word “Senegal” is an early word in a local dialect meaning “our canoe”.  This meaning, although disputed by some technicians, has nevertheless become popular today, being used commonly in phrases with meanings to the effect: “we are all in the same canoe.2

French West Africa was a federation of 8 states existing from 1895 until 1960.3

Cap-Vert, Senegal, enlarged image
Cap-Vert, Senegal

Senegal’s Capt-Vert projects its triangular point 4 directly into the Atlantic Ocean, the westernmost point of the grand collective landmass termed Afro-Eurasia.5  Also known as Cape Verde, it is roughly equidistant between the mouths of two great rivers, the Senegal and the Gambia, about 100 kilometers from each.  These became the early colonial outposts of the Europeans.

Senegal and Gambia Rivers on either side of Cape Verde

Middle 1400s Portuguese explorers, decades before the voyage of Columbus, reached the Senegal first (being the northernmost river of the two and closer to Portugal), rounded Cape Verde and explored the Gambia second (map image6 right).  Two hundred years later, the French and the British, emerging from their own borders with global ambition, established trading posts, and then settlements, and, eventually, forts in the region, the French at the Senegal River and Cape Verde area, and the British at the Gambia river.  In the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries between the French and the British, these West African settlements changed hands again and again.  But by the time of the late 19th century “scramble for Africa”, the French found themselves in the better position.

map showing Senegal shown surrounding The Gambia

The British found themselves occupying a relatively thin strip from the ocean, inland along the banks of the Gambia River.  France occupied the regions along the Senegal River, the region of Cape Verde, and the land completely surrounding the British on both banks of the Gambia and inland.  These boundaries remain unto this day; and that’s why the map looks the way it does.7

 

Senegal celebrates its Independence Day on April 4th.  On April 4, 1959, Senegal joined with French Sudan to form the Mali Federation, which became independent from France the following year, April 4, 1960 with the signing of a Transfer of Power Agreement.  Due to internal political differences, that federation swiftly dissolved and the two nations declared separate independences in August of the same year.  Senegal retained its name Senegal, and the former French Sudan adopted the name Mali.  Mali celebrates its Independence Day September 22, that date in 1960 being the day it emerged independent from the Mali Federation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, Biafra, Earth, Nigeria, Western Africa

Biafra – 5 shillings

Biafra 5 front

The Palm Tree stands in front of the Rising Sun.  The national anthem of Biafra is “The Land of the Rising Sun”1, written by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, and considered the father of Nigerian nationalism.

Biafra 5 back
Biafra Map, from wikipedia

The Republic of Biafra is the name of a 1960s secessionist state in Western Africa.  The Ibo people, sometimes called Igbo, predominantly occupied the coastal region of southeastern Nigeria including the delta of the mighty Niger River.2  Economic, cultural and religious tensions issued in a secessionist movement which led to the Nigerian Civil War lasting from July 1967 until January 1970.  The independence of Biafra was recognized by a number of surrounding nations and was supported by with arms from France.  Most of the rest of the world supported Nigeria’s claim to control over the region.  Nigeria was further supported with supplies of military arms from Britain and the United States.3

 

 

The international movement known as Medicins Sans Frontieres, or, Doctors Without Borders, was born in response to the crisis in Biafra.4

A fuller history can be read here.

Africa, Biafra, Earth, Nigeria, Western Africa

Biafra 1 pound note

 

Biafra 1 front

The image of the rising sun beyond the palm tree features prominently on the front of our banknote.  Biafra adopted the song The Land of the Rising Sun1 as its anthem.  The words were written by Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria, and, regarded as the father of Nigerian nationalism.

Biafra 1 back

The coat of arms of Biafra is featured on the back of our banknote.  As is appropriate, the symbols are full of meaning.2

Biafra 1 back

The eagle: Sovereignty, Pride and Self-Esteem

The horn of the cow: Cultural heritage

The shield: the map of Biafra

The rising sun: Expectation

Eleven Rays of sunshine: the original 11 provinces of Biafra

Three rings: Three patriarchs of Biafrans

Two Leopards holding the shield: Defenders

The field of green: Natural resources

 

Africa, Earth, Mozambique, Southern Africa

Mozambique – 5000 Meticals – Year 1988

 

Mozambique 1988

The image on the left 1 is a wood carving by Mozambique’s son, Alberto Chissano.  The image on the right is a painting by Malangatana Valente.

Mozambique 1988
Mozambique 1988

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mozambique 1988

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mozambique 1988

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The emblem of Mozambique is on the front of our banknote.  It’s symbols are explicitly defined in the constitution.

From the constitution:
Article 194 The emblem of the Republic of Mozambique shall contain as its central elements a book, a gun and a hoe, superimposed on a map of Mozambique, representing, respectively, education, defense and vigilance, and the peasantry and agricultural production. Below the map the ocean shall be represented. In the center shall be the rising sun, symbol of the building of a new life. Enclosing all this shall be a toothed wheel, symbolizing labor and industry. Surrounding the toothed wheel there shall be, to the right and left respectively, an ear of maize and a piece of sugar cane, symbolizing agricultural wealth. At the bottom there shall be a red strip with the inscription “Republic of Mozambique.”2

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Earth, Eastern Africa, Uganda

Uganda – 5 Shillings

 

Uganda 5 shillings banknote

The Ugandan Coat of Arms features prominently on the front of our 5 shilling banknote.  The coat of arms is backed by a map silhouette of Uganda.

Coat of Arms over map of the nation

The shield and two spears are said to represent the defense of the nation.  The three images on the shield, from top to bottom represent the waves of the Lakes of Vitoria, the largest in Africa, and Albert, the endless sunshine of the land and the historic drum calling to meetings of ceremony and significance.  The shield is above a green mound representing the fertility of the land, intersected by an image of the ever flowing Nile river.  The shield is flanked by two birds.  On the left (our right) is the crested crane, also the national bird of Uganda.  On the right (our left) is the Ugandan kob, emblematic of the abundant wildlife of the land of Uganda.  The banner reads “For God and for my Country”, the national motto.

Uganda 5 shillings banknote

The reverse of our 5 shillings banknote features a woman harvesting a rich crop of coffee beans.  It has appeared on several Ugandan banknotes.

 

Africa, Earth, Eastern Africa, Ethiopia, Horn of Africa

Ethiopia – 10 Birr – Year 2006

Ethiopia 2006

TEN BIRR is noted prominently left center of the front of our banknote.  The Birr is the name of the unit of currency in Ethiopia and has been since the middle 1800s.  “Birr” means “silver” in the local languages.

A weaver adorns the front.  A lion appears behind the inscription for TEN BIRR.

Ethiopia 2006

Fields are plowed in the foreground with rolling hills in the background.

 

Earth, Europe, Portugal, Southwest Europe

Portugal – 500 Escudos – Year 1966 – John II, great-nephew of Henry the Navigator

João II, the 13th King of Portugal, known as The Perfect Prince, is featured on our banknote.
John II revived the work of his great-uncle, the renowned, Henry the Navigator, advancing the exploration of Africa. These explorations are celebrated on the front and back of our banknote.

Portugal 1966
Portugal 1966 500
Africa, Earth, Togo, Western Africa

Togo – 50 Francs – Era 1958

The name Togo is translated from the Ewe language as “land where lagoons lie”.1.  The Ewe are perhaps the largest of about 30 ethnicities inhabiting Togo.

Togo 50 francs circa 1958

The Portuguese arrived in 1490, two years before Columbus set sail to the West, and, thus, just on the cusp of the colonial age. In a few short decades the colonial era took off, and with it, the Atlantic Slave Trade. Togo and its neighboring regions earned the infamous name “The Slave Coast”.

Togo 50 francs circa 1958

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The Map below is found in the Wikipedia article on the Slave Coast of Africa.2  Outlined in yellow towards the left of the map is Togoland, the name given to Togo during the period in which it was a German protectorate.  The concave Atlantic Coast below is known as The Bight of Benin and bears the name Slave Coast in this map.

Togoland became a German protectorate following the Berlin Conference of 1884, which effectively launched the Scramble for Africa.3  Just about a decade prior to the Berlin Conference, about 10% of Africa was under formal European control.   It was about 90% under formal European control about 3 decades after the conference.  During those few decades, European governments channeled their national ambitions and martial energies into Africa.  But they weren’t exhausted as evidenced by WWI.

The German protectorate was invaded and taken by French and British forces early in WWI and subdivided into British Togoland and French Togoland.

“Togoland” and ‘The Slave Coast” map.   The Slave Coast is still marked on this c. 1914 map by John Bartholomew & Co. of Edinburgh. dated 1914, see Wikipedia article.
Earth, Europe, Southwest Europe, Spain

Spain – 100 pesetas – Year 1928 – Don Quixote by Cervantes

It is said that Don Quixote has been translated into more languages that any other work, except the Bible.  And the author’s influence was so great that the Spanish Language is commonly known as the language of Cervantes.  In an interesting coincidence, he and someone known as William Shakespeare, passed on the same date.

Spain 1928 100 pesetas
Spain 1928 100 pesetas, featuring the painting “Encounter of the Dukes by Don Quixote”
Spain 1928 100 pesetas
Spain 1928 100 pesetas
Earth, Europe, Southwest Europe, Spain

Spain – 50 pesetas – Year 1928 – Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez is featured on our banknote, his painting on the back and his likeness on the front. One of the greatest painters of the Spanish Golden Age, numerous artists have paid him homage in their own work including Manet, Dali and Picasso.

Spain 1928 50 pesetas, featuring the painting “Surrender of Breda” by Diego Velazquez
Spain 1928 50 pesetas, featuring Diego Velázquez, the great painter of the Spanish Golden Age.
Africa, Earth, French West Africa, Western Africa

French West Africa – June 1941

French West Africa, 1941, front, 5 francs

June 3, 1941 is the date on our French West African banknote, colonies of France.

June 3, 1941, is just about one year after Germany began to effectively “colonize” France in 1940 with its invasion at the commencement of WW2.  And it’s just about 3 years before June 6, 1944, D-Day, when the Allied invasion in French Normandy commenced, leading to the Independence of France from its colonizers.

Our banknote is a glimpse into French West Africa, during the time that its colonizer was being colonized.

French West Africa, 1941, back, 5 francs

 

The back of our banknote illustrates a weaver at his trade in French West Africa,  There is a glorious tradition to the craft worldwide, and Africa is prominent.1

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Our banknote is a relic of the sins of the past.  It is testament to changing sensibilities that the story of this banknote would stun many in our modern word.  But, none the less, that same story, represented by this banknote, haunts a billion people to this day.

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French West Africa, or, in the French language of our banknote, Afrique Occidentale, is the name of the late 19th century and early 20th century administrative grouping of African states under French colonial rule.2  A common currency was utilized through much of this period.

Historical Context

European political and economic rivalries led to what has come to be known as The Scramble for Africa 3 in the concluding decades of the 1800s.  With the advances in the Age of Industrialization, the formerly challenging logistics of transportation and communication and resource development became simpler, and consequently, more far reaching.  Nations vied with one another for resources and safe trade routes and secure lines of communication.  Military bases were sought to secure those routes, such as Britain’s to its colony in India.  In addition to such hard assets, politicians coveted colonial possessions for prestige on the world stage and as negotiating chips in the world game. To avoid war over territories, Bismarck of Germany, prompted by the Portuguese and supported by the British, called a meeting of interested nations to resolve differences and competing interests.  This became known as the Berlin Conference of 1884. 4

The Berlin Conference delineated procedures by which nations could claim territory in Africa as their own colony.  In addition to recognizing several historic colonial claims, the Principle of Effective Occupation 5 was promulgated which was to have rapid impact and lasting effect on the continent.  Essentially, it would be henceforth considered insufficient to simply place one’s flag on the coast and claim an entire continent for the King as had been done by nations in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Under this Principle, it was necessary to have established some form of administration, treaties with inhabitants, policing force and other elements of occupation.

With the establishment of the Principle of Effective Occupation, the Conquest of Africa having already accelerated in the previous decade, now intensified into the Scramble for Africa.  Expeditions were launched into the interior, treaties were established and often coerced from the natural inhabitants, and settlements were established.  Within a short time essentially all of Africa was subdivided into colonial territories under European control. 6 New boundary lines, enforced by European politics, crisscrossed the continent.  These new lines had no connection to history, traditional hunting grounds, migration routes, sacred burial grounds.

21st Century

European colonialism of Africa collapsed following WW2, but the colonial boundaries remain.  The generation of leaders in Africa arising with the post war independence movements, generally adhered to the established stated boundaries in hopes of avoiding new conflicts among the peoples.  The boundaries, though, have no regard for traditional separations or commerce of the local ethnicities of the natural inhabitants of the land. This is one significant reason for separatist movements in Africa. 7

The region formerly known as French West Africa, is today occupied by the following countries: Ivory Coast, Benin, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo and Nigeria.

Balkan Peninsula, Earth, Europe, Greece, South East Europe

Greece – 1944, WW2 and Hyperinflation

Million Drachmas, Greece, 1944, front, featuring Antikythera Ephebe, the bronze statue discovered in early 20th century

Where the number on a banknote (after all, a piece of paper) is a Million, you can bet there is hyperinflation. The banknotes on this page are from the WW2 era, 1944. War may clarify a few things such as who one’s true friends are, but it distorts most other things, including money.

Million Drachmas, Greece, 1944, back, featuring the Temple of Poseidon
Half Million, 500,000 Drachmas, Greece 1944, front, featuring Zeus, who resides on Mt Olympus, the thunder god.
Half Million, 500,000 Drachmas, Greece 1944, back

From Wikipedia article on Hyperinflation in Greece under the German-Italian occupation, (Reference and links in footnotes below):
With the German invasion in April 1941, there was an abrupt increase in prices. This was due to psychological factors related to the fear of shortages and to the hoarding of goods. During the German and Italian Axis occupation of Greece (1941-1944), the agricultural, mineral, industrial etc. production of Greece were used to sustain the occupation forces, but also to secure provisions for the Afrika Korps. One part of these “sales” of provisions was settled with bilateral clearing through the German DEGRIGES and the Italian Sagic companies at very low prices. As the value of Greek exports in drachmas fell, the demand for drachmas followed suit and so did its forex rate. While shortages started due to naval blockades and hoarding, the prices of commodities soared. The other part of the “purchases” was settled with drachmas secured from the Bank of Greece and printed for this purpose by private printing presses. As prices soared, the Germans and Italians started requesting more and more drachmas from the Bank of Greece to offset price increases; each time prices increased, the note circulation followed suit soon afterwards. For the year November 1943 – November 1944, the inflation rate was 2.5 × 1010%, the circulation was 6.28 × 1018 drachmae and one gold sovereign cost 43,167 billion drachmas. The hyperinflation started subsiding immediately after the departure of the German occupation forces, but inflation rates took several years before they fell below 50%.
Start and End Date: Jun. 1941 – Jan. 1946
Peak Month and Rate of Inflation: Dec. 1944, 3.0 × 1010%. 1

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The Million drachma banknote features the head a bronze statue recovered from the Sea bottom in 1900, off the island of Antikythera, Greece. This small island, a little less than 8 square miles, is important to ornithologists. It is an important resting place for regional migratory birds and is also the largest breeding ground for a certain species of falcon known as Eleonora’s falcon. 2

Antikythera Ephebe
But the tiny island is important to historians too. In 1900, sponge divers spotted the shipwreck off the island. In addition to many treasures and artifacts were two items of tremendous significance. One is a full size bronze statue of remarkable beauty and grace. The head of the Antikythera Ephebe is featured on our 1,000,000 drachma banknote.  The beauty of the artwork startled the artworld, revised art history and was featured prominently on our 1944 banknote.3

Antikythera Mechanism
But it wasn’t until years later that the greatest, perhaps, treasure of all was recognized in the recovered sea-soaked artifacts.  A small wooden box containing bronze items, corroding for two millenia beneath the sea, attracted little attention in the fifty years following its discovery.  Then in 1951 a Yale University professor and science historian began to study it. It has been intensely studied since, and has become known as the Antikythera mechanism.  It is considered by many to be the earliest analogue computer in the world. The technological skill and craftsmanship demonstrated in the mechanism became lost to history for reasons unknown. It wasn’t until the 14th century that anything comparable began to be produced. 4

Temple of Poseidon
On the reverse of our 1,000,000 drachma banknote, is featured the Temple of Poseidon. 5  Poseidon was the god of the Sea.  This temple is constructed on the bluff at the end of a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, with a commanding view of the Sea, the dominion of Poseidon. 6

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The Half Million drachma banknote in this post features Zeus on the front. One must hand it to the Greeks, whereas other nations feature renowned politicians and other leaders on their banknotes, the Greeks feature God Himself. This is Zeus, the god of Thunder, known by others as Jupiter, the greatest of the planets.  He resides on Mount Olympus as the King of the gods.7

 

Asia, Laos, Mainland Southeast Asia - Indochina, Southeast Asia, Uncategorized

Laos – Military Might (1979 era, 20 kips)

It is 1979 in Laos; and our featured banknote is published.

The national emblem on the banknote below, circular on the left, displays the hammer and sickle in the midst of traditional Laotian scenes.  An artillery tank and a river gunboat flank a column of infantry marching towards the viewer.

750 years of monarchy ended with the Laotian civil war in 1975; and out banknote was issued just four years later.  A new regime was in power, and their ideology adhered to communism’s ideals.  Their banknote announces a readiness to defend themselves.

 

Laos 20 kip 1979 back

It was a bitter time in was a confusing era.  Laos had transitioned from colonialism to independence in perhaps the worst way possible; they had become a pawn in a proxy war of new Cold War superpowers.

The ancient peoples of Laos became a colony to France in the late 19th century.  French control continued into WW2 until Japanese power overran most of the Indochinese peninsula.  With Japan’s defeat imminent, Laos proclaimed independence in 1945.  But defeated France, rejuvenated through the allied victory in WW2 in 1945, moved to reassert its power and reestablish its colonial rule in Laos and the surrounding regions.  Laos resisted but it was not until nine years later, in 1954, when France abandoned all claims to Laos.

That 9 year period saw the empowering of communist Soviet Union through their detonation of an atomic bomb in 1949 and the victory of the communist party in China under Mao in 1949.

The United States thought appropriate to take a stand against communism in Laos’ neighbor, Vietnam, about this time.  US foreign policy became known as “containment”.  In 1958, North Vietnam invaded Laos to establish the Ho Chi Minh trail, the logistical supply route between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.  With the escalation of the Vietnam War, this supply route became the subject of intense military fighting, and this region of Laos became the subject of possibly the most intense bombing in history.

To much of the world, Laos was an unknown nation.  Centered in the middle of the Indochinese peninsula, Burma and Thailand on its left, Vietnam on its right, Cambodia below and China above, to much of the world, Laos remained lost in the monsoon nourished jungles, without access to the Sea, unknown to the modern world.

The other side of our banknote highlights ambitions in the textile industry.  Massive rolls of cloth are being manufactured by modern machinery in this tribute to a growing manufacturing base.

 

Laos 20 kip 1979 front (2)

 

From this industry post: Growth in the Lao textile and garment industry has been impressive from a base of only two companies in 1990 to 116 in 2006 employing 30,000 workers. Laos became a market-oriented economy in the mid-1980s, meaning it had a short learning curve to pick up the basics about the industry.

From a WTO report (approximately year 2004): The textile and garment industry is of great importance to the Lao economy. Currently, the industry comprises ninety-six factories and employs more than 25,000 workers. In 2003, garment exports, valued at US$115 million, accounted for approximately a third of total exports, second to electricity. Laos exports ready-made garments to forty-two countries.

 

Asia, Earth, Laos, Mainland Southeast Asia - Indochina, Southeast Asia

Laos – Elephants in Logging Industry (1979, 5 Kips)

Laos 5 kip (1979) back

Laos was known for centuries as Lan Xang.  Lan Xang, which translates as “The Land of One Million Elephants”, is the precursor kingdom to modern Laos.  It dominated the Indochina region from the 14th to the 18th century. The Laotian monarchy provided 750 years of continuity for the traditions of Lan Xang through the the Khun Lo Dynasty ending in 1975, the concluding year of the Civil War, in which Communists came into power.

Elephants have long been associated with power and kingship and wealth in Indochina.   In the 15th century, war broke out between Vietnam and Laos, Lan Xang, which has become known as the War of the White Elephant.

By the time of this sad 2012 article, elephants have been reduced vastly in number with an uncertain future.

Detail from Laos 5 kip (1979) back
Laos 5 kip (1979) front, including the national emblem of the newly (since 1975) communist state with hammer and sickle emblazoned above illustrations of local Laotian scenes.
Detail from Laos 5 kip (1979) front.  A shopping scene of Laotians at the local market.
Detail from Laos 5 kip (1979) front

The National Emblem adorns the front of our featured 1979 banknote, and is illustrated here. Left-center illustrates the electricity powering the nation, while right-center is the forest on the traditional paddy field; the road forward is between the two.

 

 

Laos, Coat of Arms, front of 2013 banknote

At left is the National Emblem of Laos on the front of a 2003 banknote.  Much will be seen to be the same, and some changes are self-explanatory.  The hammer and sickle, symbolizing the union of the industrial and agricultural workers, the great symbol of the Soviet Union, is, of course, absent.  The rapid demise of the Soviet Union came with stunning surprise to the leaders of Laos, as indeed it came to much of the world.  I am curious as to the alteration in the script wrapping the rice stalks on the right, as well as that below the gear at center.  The script below the gear in the center is the name of the State, which apparently has not changed since 1975.  If a reader has any insight on this, I would very much appreciate your contribution by way of comment or email.

 

Africa, Earth, Morocco, Northern Africa

Morocco – Bab Chellah

Morocco 20 Dirhams, front

King Mohammed VI is featured on the front of the 2005 series banknote.  Born the oldest son to Hassan II, Mohammed was named Heir Apparent and Crown Prince on the day of his birth in 1963.  On July 23, 1999, he ascended the throne upon the death of his father and reigns as king to this day.

Beyond him is the gate of the Chellah, often referenced as bab callah, or similar, “bab” being an arabic word for gate.  Chellah is an ancient fortress in Rabat, about 3 kilometers up the River Bou Reg from the Kasbah illustrated below.  The gate can be seen in this photo in google earth.

Morocco 20 Dirhams, back

Featured on the back of this banknote is the Kasbah of Rabat, on the Atlantic ocean at the mouth of the River Bou Reg.  A kasbah, with various similar english spellings from the Arabic noun such as qasaba and qasbah, is a citadel or fortress or the central fortified part of a town.  In Morocco it frequently refers to multiple buildings in a citadel or behind a defensive wall.  Sometimes they were built on commanding hills for defense.  Often they were built at the entrance to harbors, such as ours here at Rabat in Morocco.  This was built in the 12th century.  It has recently been added to the World Heritage list.  The Kasbah can be seen in this google earth image.

Detail from the back of the 20 Dirham Morocco banknote illustrating the Kasbah of the Udayas
View of the Kasbah of the Udayas from the opposite side of the mouth of the River Bou Reg; from Sale, twin city to the capital of Morocco, Rabat.  The high tower of the Kasbah is far left in the photo and central in the bankote image.

 

 

Africa, Earth, Malawi, Southern Africa

Malawi – Rose Chibambo

 

Malawi

Rose Lomathinda Chibambo, featured on our banknote, has been heralded as “One of the Founders of Malawi” by a local news outlet upon her 2016 passing.  More of this talented and courageous woman’s story is told below.

Malawi

From Wikipedia:
Rose Chibambo organised Malawian women in their political fight against the British as a political force to be reckoned with alongside their menfolk in the push for independence. She was arrested on 23 March 1959, two days after giving birth to a girl, and taken to Zomba prison. Her fellow freedom fighters, including Hastings Banda were arrested earlier, on the morning of 3 March when governor Robert Armitage declared a state of emergency. After Malawi gained independence in 1964, Rose Chibambo was the first woman minister in the new cabinet. When she fell out with Dr. Hastings Banda she was forced into exile for thirty years, returning after the restoration of democracy.

Africa, Earth, Malawi, Southern Africa

Malawi – John Chilembwe

 

Malawi

Featured on the back side of our banknote is the Independence Arch of Malawi, which also featured significantly in the independence celebrations of 2017, chronicled in the local media here.

Malawi

John Chilembwe, a minister and educator, was against the colonial movement in the days of Nyasaland, the early 20th century.

The following is from a Wikipedia article here:
The Chilembwe uprising was a rebellion against British colonial rule in Nyasaland (modern-day Malawi) in January 1915, led by John Chilembwe, an American-educated Baptist minister, whose radical evangelical views of racial injustice may also have been influenced by millenarian Christians. Based around his church in the village of Mbombwe in the south-east of the country, the revolt was centered on the black middle class and encouraged by grievances against the colonial system, including forced labour, discrimination and the new demands on the indigenous population caused by the outbreak of World War I.
The revolt broke out in the evening of the 23rd January 1915, when rebels, incited by Chilembwe, attacked the A. L. Bruce plantation’s headquarters at Magomero and killed three white colonists; and a largely unsuccessful attack on a weapons store in Blantyre followed during the night. By the morning of the 24th January the colonial authorities had mobilised the white settler militia and redeployed regular military forces south. After a failed attack on Mbombwe by troops of the King’s African Rifles (KAR) on the 25th January, a group of rebels attacked a Christian mission at Nguludi and burned it down. The KAR and militia took Mbombwe without encountering resistance on the 26th January after many of the rebels, including Chilembwe, fled, hoping to reach safety in neighbouring Portuguese East Africa (modern Mozambique). About 40 rebels were executed in the revolt’s aftermath, and 300 were imprisoned; Chilembwe was shot dead by a police patrol near the border on the 3rd February.
Although the rebellion did not itself achieve lasting success, it is commonly cited as a watershed moment in Nyasaland history. The rebellion had lasting effects on the British system of administration in Nyasaland and some reform was enacted in its aftermath. After World War II, the growing Malawian nationalist movement reignited interest in the Chilembwe revolt, and after the independence of Malawi in 1964 it became celebrated as a key moment in the nation’s history. Chilembwe’s memory, which remains prominent in the collective national consciousness, has often been invoked in symbolism and rhetoric by Malawian politicians. Today, the uprising is celebrated annually and Chilembwe himself is considered a national hero.

The last know photograph of John Chilembwe (from Wikipedia article sited above).

 

Africa, Earth, Malawi, Southern Africa

Malawi – Food Security

Malawi, 2005 banknote, 5 kwatcha, featuring artist’s theme “Food Security”

“Food Security”.  The beautiful artwork suggest, perhaps, a Mother, two older daughters and a young child.  The Mother is smiling.  She is pouring into a basket almost ready to overflow. This makes her happy.  Her family will be fed into the future.  The older daughters are working the heavy poles, processing the produce picked from the fields behind them.  They have learned their Mother’s ways and priorities.  One must provide for food for the family.  The young one is learning from her older sisters.  The artwork is beautiful.  The illustration is moving.

As I write this, I am mesmerized.  I am sitting in a pub, on my second beer, feeling a little uncomfortable because I ate too much food for lunch.  As I did yesterday.  And the day before.  And the day before that.  As I am getting older, I do find myself worried about “security” in my future.  Some kinds of security.  But I have never, not for one moment, ever, in my now somewhat long life, been worried over food security.  Have you?  I’d love to hear your stories.

A site I just discovered is here, the Famine Early Warning System Network, referenced from this Malawi report, here.  From this, I learn that there are very many people working together toward Food Security.  I want to help.  Do you?

Malawi, 5 kwatcha banknote, featuring John Chilembwe, Preacher and Political Activist, early advocate of Independence for Malawi
Africa, Earth, Malawi, Southern Africa

Malawi – Tobacco

Malawi, 1 hwatcha banknote, featuring tobacco workers

From wikipedia here:   Tobacco production in Malawi is one of the nation’s largest sources of income. As of 2005, Malawi was the 12th largest producer of tobacco leaves and the 7th largest global supporter of tobacco leaves. As of 2010, Malawi was the world’s leading producer of burley leaf tobacco. With the decline of tobacco farms in the West, interest in Malawi’s low-grade, high-nicotine tobacco has increased. Today, Malawian tobacco is found in blends of nearly every cigarette smoked in industrialized nations including the popular and ubiquitous Camel and Marlboro brands. It is the world’s most tobacco dependent economy.

Burley leaf from Malawi makes up 6.6 percent of the worlds tobacco exports and accounts for over 70 percent of Malawi’s foreign earnings. Tobacco sales generate 165 million dollars per year for Malawi, with tobacco making up 53 percent of Malawi’s exports.

Approximately 75 percent of the population depends on tobacco farming although only a small proportion of Malawians are smokers. 5 million workers are indirectly employed in related industries or are family members of tobacco workers.

Malawi, 1 kwatcha banknote, 1992, President-for-Life Hastings Banda

During the era of Hastings Banda, 1966-1994, the local tobacco industry grew and changed and flourished.  Production rose 100% by the 1970s from the pre-independence days.  Furthermore in the 1970s, tobacco production began its huge shit from the “developed” nations to the “developing” nations, a movement upon which Malawi capitalized.  Formerly one of the very poorest of African nations, its economy has been bolstered substantially by tobacco.

Malawi gained independence in 1964, and Banda the presidency in 1966.  In 1970 he was named President-for-Life, a position held until he lost a UN pressured election in 1994.

Asia, Laos, Mainland Southeast Asia - Indochina, Southeast Asia

Laos – Culture (2003, 1000 kips)

Laos, Laotian Ethnic Groups Women: Lao Lum, Lao Sung and Lao Theung, Pha That Luang pagoda in Vientiane.

Traditionally there are three ethnic groups of Laotians, and they are illustrated beautifully on our banknote by these three ladies.   The Lao Soung, or Lao Sung, are the highland dwelling peoples constituting about 10% of the populace.  The Lao Theung, or Lao Thoeng, indicates the midland Lao peoples and represents about 25% of the populace.  The Lao Lum, or Lao, are the majority ethinc group, representing about 50% of the populace.

Over the left shoulder of our three ladies is the Pha That Luang pagoda.  Regarded as dating from the 3rd century, that is almost 2000 years old, this is the most significant pagoda in Laos.  It is rumored to contain the breastbone of the Buddha himself. It is said that the architecture contains numerous references to Laotian culture which has furthered its significance as an icon of Laotian nationalism.  It is said that the three levels of the pagoda each reflect a dimension of Buddhist doctrine.

Laos, Cattle, Power lines, Elephant, Deity
Laos, National Emblem

The National Emblem adorns the front of our banknote and is illustrated her.  The Pha That Luang Pagoda is at center top.  Left center is the modern empowering hydroelectric dam while right center is the forest on the traditional paddy field; the road forward is between the two.  The name of the state is inscribed below the one-half gear wheel on the bottom,
Fully ripened rice stalks encircle the whole, each wrapped, and inscribed between them, with the five words of the Laotian Motto: Peace, Independence, Democracy, Unity, Prosperity”.

 

Asia, Earth, Laos, Mainland Southeast Asia - Indochina, Southeast Asia

Laos – Modern Irrigation (1988, 500 kips)

Laos is a rugged, landlocked region in the midst of the Indochina peninsula. 80% of its land is hilly to mountainous.  Land suitable for agriculture, arable land, is located primarily along its major river, the Mekong, and its tributaries.  From rainy to dry seasons the elevation of the Mekong can fluctuate 20 meters.  The Mekong remained “untamed” along its entire length, that is, not a single spanning bridge, until 1994 when the Friendship bridge was opened, connecting Laos with Vietnam.

In 1893, Laos became a French colony. During WW2 it came under dominion of the Japanese, returning to France following the war. In 1954, Laos secured independence from France. Landlocked, surrounded by Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and China, for decades remained largely unknown to the rest of the world. That is changing.

Laos, modern irrigation systems
Laos, the fruit harvest
Africa, Earth, Guinea, Western Africa

Guinea – 1960

Guinea
Guinea

October 2, 1958, Guinea declared independence from France.

 

In 1959, the Guinean franc banknote was issued to replace the CFA franc.  In 1960, 1st Mars, the date of our banknote, the 2nd issue of the Guinean franc was issued.1

 

Historically, the Guinea region was one of the first parts of Africa to trade with Europeans.
In 1478 (during the War of the Castilian Succession), a Castilian armada of 35 caravels and a Portuguese fleet fought the battle of Guinea in the waters off Elmina, for the hegemony of the Guinea trade (gold, slaves, ivory and black pepper). The war ended both with a Portuguese naval victory and the official recognition by the Catholic Monarchs of the Portuguese sovereignty over most of the African territories in dispute (Treaty of Alcáçovas, 1479).[9][10] This was the first colonial war among European powers. Many more would come. After the Portuguese and Castilians came the Dutch, French and British.
The extensive trade in ivory, gold, and slaves made the region wealthy, with a number of centralized kingdoms developing in the 18th and 19th centuries. These were much smaller than the large states of the wide-open Sahel, but they had far higher population densities and were more centralized politically. The cohesion of these kingdoms caused the region to show more resistance to European incursions than other areas of Africa. Such resistance, combined with a disease environment hostile to Europeans, meant that much of Guinea was not colonised by Europeans until the very end of the 19th century. 2

The Region of Guinea, Negroland and Guinea with the European Settlements”, Herman Moll, 1727, published in Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_(region)
Balkan Peninsula, Croatia, Earth, Europe, South East Europe

Croatia – “History of the Croats”

Croatia

The sculpture featured on our banknote is by the beloved artist of Croatia named Ivan Mestrovic, one of the greatest sculptors of history. It is entitled History of Croats and depicts a mother, seated, and in her lap a book entitled History of the Croats.  With this image, the artist entrusts the identity of his people to this strong and gracious Mother for safekeeping through all time.  The image has become beloved to all of Croatia.

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Croatia
Balkan Peninsula, Croatia, Earth, Europe, South East Europe

Croatia – Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich, 18th century astronomer, physicist and mathematician, is featured on the front of our banknote of Croatia. He developed a method of determination of the orbit of a celestial body based upon just three measurements. he similarly developed a method for determining the rotation of a heavenly body based upon the measurement of the locations of three landmarks. These calculations are illustrated on the front of our banknote.

The sculpture, beloved to Croatians, “History of Croatians” by Ivan Mestrovic, is illustrated on the back of our banknote. She, a woman, as Mother, sits serenely, with a massive tome in her lap, a book identified on its spine as the “History of Croatians”. She is the keep og the Croatin identity, culture and history. A moving tribute is in this blog post here.

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Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Burundi, Earth, Eastern Africa

Burundi – Intore Dance

Burundi

The Intore Warrior Dancer is presented on the front of our banknote.  The warriors defended the King and paraded in dance before the delighted people when returning from victory.  The dancer wears the skin of a leopard and an elaborate headdress, bells on their ankles and necklace of ivory.  In his right hand is a spear and in his left a representation of a shield.  For a photograph and link to a fuller article, see below.

Burundi

The Burundi Coat of Arms adorns the back of our banknote..  The face of a lion is on the shield backed by three spears.  The National Motto is presented in French on the banner and encircling Kirundi, two of the three national languages of Burundi, the other being English.

Intore Dancers of Burundi

This photo is taken from the fuller article on Intore dancers here.

Africa, African Great Lakes Region, Burundi, Earth, Eastern Africa

Burundi – Unite Travail Progress

 

Burundi

The light background surrounding the shield is the map of Burundi.  Its shape itself is shield-like.  Burundi lies immediately south of, and borders, Rwanda.  Within the map is the emblem, the Coat of Arms, of Burundi.  The Coat of Arms was adopted in 1966, shortly following independence.  It is a shield and banner, backed by three traditional African spears.  The shield presents the face of the lion.  The banner presents the Motto of the Nation.

From the Constitution of Burundi:

Article 9.
Motto of Burundi is: Unity, Work, Progress. The emblem of the Republic is a shield charged with the lion head and three spears, the whole being surrounded by the national motto.

Burundi

The three word motto is presented in French and Kirundi; the French words readily discernible to English speaking peoples, but, perhaps, with unanticipated irony.  The middle word of the motto, travail, in the French, is the word common for work in English; that is “labor” in the unadorned common sense.  Whereas, travail to English speaking minds is freighted with tones of suffering and even sorrow, and is sometimes used in to describe the work of a woman bringing a child to birth.  I am shaking my head slowly with sadness and care as I write this, it feeling so apropos to poor Burundi.

Asia, Azerbaijan, Caucasus Mountains, Earth

Azerbaijan – The Poet of Azerbaijan

 

Azerbaijan front

Nizam Ganjavi1, the great poet of the 12th century, is featured on our banknote.  His poems set standards for a literary tradition that has been imitated for centuries following.  He is considered the greatest epic poet of the Persians and is widely regarded among the Iranians and Kurds and Afghanis and others.

Nizam Ganjavi was born in the region we now know as Azebaijan and appears to have lived his entire life there.  His poetry exhibits vast knowledge of culture and science including astronomy and mathematics, alchemy, medicine and botany, Islamic religion and law, Persian myths and legends and much more.  His compositions synthesize this learning into a beautiful vision of life.

Azerbaijan back

In 1918 the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan declared its independence. In 1920 it was incorporated into the Soviet Union. In August 1991, half year before the December dissolution of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan declared its independence again.  October 18, 1991, its Supreme Court adopted a Declaration of Independence which was affirmed by the people in a nationwide referendum two months later.  October 18 is celebrated as Azerbaijan’s Independence Day.

Asia, Central Asia, Tajikistan

Tajikistan – 1994

The Coat of arms is featured on the front of this banknote of Tajikistan, and enlarged below.

Majlisi Olii, the Tajik Parliament, is featured on the back of this banknote, with the National Flag of Tajikistan.

Tajikistan 1994

 

Tajikistan 1994

 

Detail from banknote of Tajikistan 1994
Tajikistan Coat of Arms (image from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under Soviet rule, this was the Coat of Arms of Tajikistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asia, Nepal, Southern Asia

Nepal – King Birendra

King Birendra Bir Bikram is featured on the front of this banknote of Nepal, wearing a plumed crown.  Described from his youth as extraordinarily kind and emotional, he was a firm advocate of democracy for his people, the people of Nepal.  He was King in Nepal from 1972 until 2001, when he died.

Centered on the front of the banknote is the Bajrayogini Temple near Sankhu and Kathmandu.

 

Nepal banknote, 2 rupees, front
Nepal banknote, 2 rupees, back