World Currencies and Abbreviations

Last updated: 25-Jan-2012

Introduction

Regrettably it has become necessary to remove the three main tables listing countries and their currencies. I have not been able to spare the time to keep them up to date. Also the high number of downloads has meant that I have exceeded my ISP's data transfer limit. For the time being, the tables can still be found at my mirror site here, but I cannot guarantee how long this will continue. The Associated Resources section below suggests some alternative sites for currency information.

There are many different currencies in use in the world. A few have special symbols to represent them but most use the first letter of the currency name. Although the first letter of the currency name works well when describing a local currency, in an international context it leads to confusion. Does P20 mean 20 Pesetas, Pesos, Pounds, Pataca, Pa'anga or something else? And if it means 20 Pesos, are they Argentinian Pesos, Bolivian Pesos, Chilean Pesos, Colombian Pesos, or some other variety of Peso? For this reason we need an unambiguous, unique, standardized (and preferably short) way of referring to each currency.

Although there are special symbols for some currencies, many of them cause problems when used in e-mail, news postings or on web pages. For this reason we need a method of representation that passes unchanged and without difficulty in all of these media.

The solution, long used by the international banking community, is the ISO 4217 set of currency abbreviations.

ISO 4217

ISO 4217 (Codes for the Representation of Currencies and Funds) defines three-letter abbreviations for world currencies. The general principle used to construct these abbreviations is to take the two-letter abbreviations defined in ISO 3166 (Codes for the Representation of Names of Countries) and append the first letter of the currency name (e.g., USD for the United States Dollar).

In the case of currencies defined by supra-national entities, ISO 4217 assigns two-letter entity codes starting with "X" to use in place of country codes (e.g., XCD for the Central Caribbean Dollar).

Although ISO standards are not, in general, available on line, the country codes of ISO 3166 can be found at iso-3166-code-lists.

When to Use Currency Abbreviations

Depending upon whether you are using e-mail, news or the web, some currency symbols may be used but many others should not be used. The long answer is rather complicated. The short answer is:

The short answer simplifies the situation somewhat, but if you follow it you will never be wrong. Ignore the advice (and that given in the long answer) and you will cause problems for others, if not also for yourself.

Common Currency Abbreviations

The currency abbreviations that are most commonly seen, and required in E-mail and news, are those which have symbols in the ISO 8859/1 (Latin 1) character set. These are:
USD
United States Dollar ($). The only currency symbol that can safely be used in E-mail and news.
GBP
Pound Sterling [United Kingdom Pound] (£)
The use of "GB" for "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" surprises some people. However, the United Kingdom and the Ukraine both wanted "UK" so rather than start World War III over the matter, the United Kingdom was assigned "GB" and the Ukraine was assigned "UA."
UKP
An incorrect abbreviation for the Pound Sterling (use GBP instead)
ITL
Italian Lira (£)
JPY
Japanese Yen (¥)

Also found in the DOS/Windows 3 CP 1252 character set (which covers all valid ISO 8859/1 characters) is the symbol for the Dutch Guilder (an "f" with a hook). This character is assigned to a position reserved for a control code and it is incorrect to use this character to represent the guilder symbol in any Internet medium - it is always wrong to use this symbol from the CP 1252 character set on the Internet. Use the abbreviation NLG instead.

Some years ago Microsoft amended the DOS/Windows CP l252 character set to include the Euro currency symbol. If you have fonts which conform to this extended version of CP 1252 it is incorrect to use this character to represent the Euro symbol in any Internet medium - it is always wrong to use this symbol from the extended CP 1252 character set on the Internet. Use the abbreviation EUR instead.

Changing Countries and Currencies

The world is in constant flux.

Countries change their names or split into two or more smaller countries or merge with another country. Some "countries" given country codes by ISO 3166 are colonies or dependencies of other countries.

Currencies are revalued without a change of name or revalued with a change of name or change name without being revalued. Countries may adopt the currency of another country or stop using the currency of another country and create their own currency. In some countries other currencies, besides the official currency, circulate and are accepted.

Some countries (mainly colonies and dependencies of other countries) have currencies which are theoretically different from their parent country but which are actually pegged at a 1:1 exchange ratio. All that really changes is the wording and pictures on the banknotes. E.g., the Falkland Pound (FKP) is theoretically a different currency to the Pound Sterling (GBP) but in practice is pegged at a 1:1 exchange ratio.

In these pages, currencies are listed against a particular country where they circulate, whether those currencies are the official currency of a country or whether they are unofficially acceptable. Because of transitions from one currency to another, currencies are also listed against a particular country if they have circulated in that country in the recent past.

The following European Union countries adopted the Euro at the start of 2002: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Other countries which were previously using one of the superseded currencies also adopted the Euro. Slovenia adopted the Euro at the start of 2007, Cyprus and Malta at the beginning of 2008 and Slovakia at the beginning of 2009.

Use of Tables

The nature of the information in these pages is such that the only feasible option for displaying it was to use HTML tables. Since some browsers cannot display tables, three tricks (all valid HTML) have been used to ensure that the information should be readable (although not particularly pretty) on such browsers.

Browsers which can display tables will have to download the whole file (most of these are quite large so this may take a little while) and then have a think about how best to fit the information into columns before they can start to display the information. This means that you will not see the information displayed immediately - please be patient.

Disclaimer

We have compiled this information from several on-line and off-line sources. Many of the sources have discrepancies and omissions. Some of the errors have obviously been copied from one on-line source to another (such as "Syrian potmd" for the Syrian pound).

We have attempted to rectify as many of the discrepancies and omissions as possible and tried not to introduce errors of our own. However there have been only limited updates since 1999, and it is unlikely that all the information is up to date. You use it at your own risk.

Currency Information

There are four pages of world currency information:
Listed by Country Name (101 K)
World Currencies listed by Country name and associated ISO 3166 two-letter country code showing currencies that circulate in those countries and the ISO 4217 currency abbreviations for those currencies.
Use this page to look up a country and find the currency/currencies that circulate there and the currency abbreviations for those currencies.
Listed by Currency Name (65 K)
World Currencies listed by currency name and associated ISO 4217 currency abbreviation showing countries where each currency is used and the associated ISO 3166 two-letter country codes.
Use this page to look up a currency name and find the corresponding currency abbreviation and the countries in which it circulates.
Listed by ISO 4217 Currency Abbreviation (66 K)
World Currencies listed by ISO 4217 currency abbreviation showing countries where each currency is used and the associated ISO 3166 two-letter country codes.
Use this page to look up a currency abbreviation and find the currency name countries where that currency circulates.
Unicode/ISO 10646 World Currency Symbols (7 K)
Unicode/ISO 10646 currency symbols for various currencies.
Use this page to look up a particular currency symbol and find the name of the currency it corresponds to.
Warning: this page uses Unicode characters to display some of the currency symbols. Older browsers may not display some of the symbols. Very old browsers may crash if you attempt to look at this page.

Associated Resources

The following resources may contain associated information which you may find useful. Neither John Hall nor Paul L. Allen have checked these in any detail and we cannot vouch for their usefulness or accuracy.
Currency UK
Provides current exchange rates between any two global currencies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Numismatics
Wikipedia Numismatics project.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_4217
A list of global currencies and the three-character currency codes generally used to represent them. Also includes a list of superseded codes.
http://fx.sauder.ubc.ca/currencies.html
ISO-4217 currency codes are provided for all currencies along with commonly used symbols. At the time of writing it had not been updated since May, 2008.
http://www.xe.com/iso4217.htm
A list of global currencies and the three-character currency codes generally used to represent them. In spite of the name of the webpage, the codes given do not correspond to the ISO 4217 standard in all instances.
http://www.xe.com/symbols.htm
A list of symbols used to represent a range of currencies, shown as a graphic image and in the following fonts: Code2000, Tahoma and Arial Unicode MS.
http://www.xe.com/euro.htm
Information on which countries have adopted the Euro and when, and what rate was used in converting their previous currencies into the Euro.
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/
Font packs which may add some degree of Unicode support to Windows
and Mac computers.
http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U20A0.pdf
Lists available Unicode currency symbols (to view this you will need Acrobat Reader).
http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/currency_symbols.html
Tests your browser for support for Unicode currency symbols.
http://www.pro-researcher.co.uk/encyclopaedia/english/iso_4217
Lists active and obsolete ISO 4217 currency codes.

© Copyright 1998-2012, Paul L. Allen and John Hall
Comments to currency1atjhall.co.uk (replace "at" by "@")

[ Main Index | Countries and Currencies (table deleted) | Currency names (table deleted) | Currency Abbreviations (table deleted) | Currency Symbols | Character Set Restrictions ]