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Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia.

Dive into Zambia currency: 5 intriguing facts

Are you curious about the currency of Zambia, renowned for its breathtaking waterfalls and rich wildlife reserves?

Whether you’re gearing up for an adventure, captivated by global currencies, or need to make a currency exchange, you’re in the right spot!

Today, we’re delving into the fascinating world of Zambia’s currency. From its historical beginnings to its distinctive banknotes and practical coins, we cover it all. 

What currency is used in Zambia?

Zambia’s official currency is the Zambian kwacha (ZMW), which uses the symbol ZK. 

Like how pounds are divided into pence, each kwacha is subdivided into 100 ngwee. 

Whether you’re venturing to experience the majestic Victoria Falls or you’re a currency enthusiast, understanding the kwacha is essential.

So, let’s dive in and discover the story behind the national currency of Zambia. 

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Need Zambian currency for your trip? Manor FX offers the top online exchange rates in the UK.

Take advantage of our excellent rates and straightforward online service to maximise your travel funds!

Ordering kwacha online is easy and adaptable. Choose from home delivery, office delivery, or pick it up in-store – whichever suits your plans best. 

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Jaguar in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.

A journey through time: The story of Zambian currency

Zambia’s currency has a vibrant history reflecting the nation’s journey since independence in 1964. You may be wondering what currency did Zambia use in the past.

The kwacha was introduced in 1968, replacing the British pound, marking a significant step in Zambia’s path to economic independence.

The kwacha has seen several redesigns throughout the years. These changes reflect Zambia’s ongoing efforts to stabilise its economy.

Today, the kwacha remains a symbol of Zambia’s national pride and heritage, featuring images of leaders, cultural icons, and wildlife, connecting it deeply with the country’s identity and history.

Zambia banknote series

Zambian banknotes 

In Zambia, the Bank of Zambia issues the country’s banknotes. These notes are renowned for their distinctive designs, showcasing the nation’s diverse heritage and culture.

Let’s explore the beautiful and intricate designs of Zambia’s banknotes:

2 KMW banknote: The banknote showcases Zambia’s national symbol, the African fish eagle, sitting proudly on a branch with a Teak tree on the front. On the back, you’ll find the Freedom Statue near the Lusaka National Museum.

5 KMW banknote: The bill displays a Mopane tree on the front. On the back of this note, you’ll see a lion’s head, a cassava plant, and the Freedom Statue.

10 KMW banknote: The front of this note features the Zambian Coat of Arms and a Sugar Plum tree. On the back, you’ll find a porcupine, farmers harvesting rice crops from paddy fields, and the Freedom Statue.

20 KMW banknote: The front of this bill showcases a Mukwa tree and an eagle fish. On the back, there’s a Black Lechwe, and miners are actively working in a copper mine.

50 KMW banknote: The front displays a sycamore tree with an eagle perched on a branch. On the back, you’ll see a leopard and the Headquarters building of the Bank of Zambia.

100 KMW banknote: The front features a baobab tree and the Coat of Arms of Zambia. You’ll find a Cape buffalo and the National Assembly of Zambia on the back.

Zambia coin series

Zambian coins 

Zambia’s coin denominations cover a range of values, each with its unique design and significance.

5 Ngwee: This coin showcases Zambia’s Coat of Arms. On the back, it features the Zambezi Indigobird, a small species of bird known for its striking plumage.

10 Ngwee: On the back of this coin, you’ll spot an Eland, one of the largest antelope species found in Africa.

50 Ngwee: On the reverse side of this piece, you’ll encounter the African elephant. These gentle giants are iconic symbols of Zambia’s rich wildlife.

1 kwacha: Bird enthusiasts will enjoy this coin as it features the Zambian Barbet, a species of bird that is endemic to Zambia. 

Discover Zambia: 5 fascinating facts about the kwacha

  • It’s relatively young: The kwacha was introduced in 1968, replacing the British pound. This shift was a big step for Zambia, establishing its own currency just a few years after gaining independence.
  • Name with meaning: The name ‘kwacha’ means ‘dawn’ in the Nyanja and Bemba languages, symbolising a new beginning for Zambia. Its smaller unit, the ngwee, means ‘bright,’ reflecting hope and optimism.
  • Pioneers of polymer: Back in 2003, Zambia made history by becoming the first African country to print polymer banknotes. Polymer notes are much tougher than paper ones and better for adding advanced security features. However, the country has since switched back to using good old paper banknotes instead of polymer ones. So, if you’re handling Kwacha banknotes nowadays, they’re all made of paper.
  • Rich artwork: The artwork on Zambian banknotes is vibrant and features the African fish eagle, which is also the national bird of Zambia. This replaced portraits of Kenneth Kaunda, who was the nation’s first president. 
  • Redenomination: In 2013, Zambia redenominated its currency by dividing the existing kwacha by 1,000. This turned the old 1,000 kwacha into 1 new kwacha. This move was intended to simplify transactions and stabilise the currency.


In Zambia, since the kwacha isn’t as widely known globally as major currencies like the euro or the US dollar, people often find themselves uncertain about what they need when purchasing currency.

It’s common for them to search terms like “currency in Zambia Africa.” However, what they’re actually looking for is the Zambian kwacha. 

Need to exchange your pounds for Zambian currency? You’re in the right place! Changing currencies is super easy. Just order your travel money online today!

We’ll ensure it gets to your home or office fast and securely via Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®.

And if you’re near Heathrow, feel free to drop by our bureau to pick up your kwacha in person. We’re committed to making your currency exchange hassle-free and straightforward!

Do you buy Zambian currency at Manor FX?

Got leftover currency from your trip to Zambia? No worries, we’ve got an easy fix for that! Converting your Zambia currency into pound sterling is straightforward.

Here’s what to do: Head over to our page and click the ‘sell currency’ button. Choose ‘ZMW Zambian kwacha’ from the dropdown menu.

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