Home of Victoria Falls, rhinos, hippos and exotic birds, the landlocked, war torn, former Rhodesia, has undergone numerous changes throughout the years. Notably in the last 3 decades we have seen their currency go through not only basic inflation, but also a full collapse with hyperinflation. Resulting in the abandonment of the official currency and adopting numerous other nations currency as legal tender, all in a span of just under 40 years, leaving the local currency to be sold as souvenirs.
After decades upon decades of exchanging hands and being a region torn in many aspects, Zimbabwe finally gained independence and elected Caanan Banana as President and Robert Mugabe as Prime Minister. Mugabe would later become Head of State and the country would once again fall to turmoil. The ripple effect of these events would later contribute to the demise of the Zimbabwean dollar due to the corruption and lack of support from the government to civilians. A noteworthy portion of this being the Fast Track Land Reform, a program to help return the fertile land to its indigenous people. What seemed like a great idea in theory ultimately failed due to the new landowners having no farming skills and lack of business savvy and the failure of Zimbabwean government to give assistance. The once fruitful cash crops also fell victim to severe drought, turning the once fertile soil into worthless dirt.
Though Mugabe and his party were eventually booted from leadership in 2002, it proved to be a little too late. From 1980 until about 2000, Zimbabwe maintained an extraordinary positive economic growth, roughly 5% year after year. Their involvement with the war in Democratic Republic of Congo, along with the aforementioned politic issues on the home front, siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from the country and eventually the economy took a turn for the worst and saw a decline of 8% in 2001, 12% in 2002 and 18% in 2003. During this time, Zimbabwe began to experience an annual inflation rate of 32% in 1998 year after year until ten years later reaching an estimated 11,200,000% in August of 2008. Prompting the bank systems to begin introducing almost unheard of notes in the millions and eventually trillions during this span.
Their land raped of all vital minerals and nutrients for crops, a corrupt government and lack/inability to support its society and a worthless dollar, Zimbabwe permitted the use of all foreign currency for everyday financial dealings. In 2009 the Zimbabwe dollar was suspended indefinitely making the US dollar, South African rand, euro and Botswana pula legal tender. Zimbabweans have until the end of September 2015 to exchange their ZD’s for USD before losing 100% of its worth and any potential savings they may have.
For an indefinite time, the Zimbabwe billion and trillion dollar notes will be collectibles, sold as souvenirs and collectors items to tourists and anyone wanting to add value to their collection of rare or obsolete money. Ranging in color from bold reds to soothing greens and blues, ZD may not be the most elaborate of designs when compared with other foreign notes but they certainly stand out from the crowd.
Bellevue Rare Coins currently has two large stacks on display at their Bellevue showroom. If interested in viewing or purchasing this piece of modern history, please call for an appointment or stop by at any time during business hours.