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Man holding snow board near Yurt nomadic house complex at Ski resort Shymbulak in Almaty, Kazakhstan at night.

Kazakstan currency: The story of the tenge

What is the currency of Kazakhstan?

Welcome to Kazakhstan, a land of rich history and vibrant culture!

At the heart of its booming economy is the Kazakhstani tenge (KZT), represented by the symbol ₸. Just like how pounds break down into pence, each tenge splits into 100 tiyn. For those who are curious, you pronounce “tiyn” much like “teen” in English.

If you’re setting off to explore the country’s breathtaking vistas or if you’re a currency buff, getting familiar with the tenge is key.

So, let’s dive in and uncover the story behind the national currency of Kazakhstan. Join us on this exciting exploration!

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A brief history of Kazakhstan currency

Kazakhstan’s currency history is quite a tale! Before 1993, the country used the Soviet ruble. 

But things changed quickly! In November 1993, Kazakhstan introduced its own currency – the tenge. This was a step in asserting its independence and economic identity.

The first tenge banknotes and coins circulated on November 15, 1993. Since then, the tenge has seen various redesigns and updates, reflecting Kazakhstan’s rich culture and history.

The journey of the tenge mirrors the nation’s economic development. It’s not just currency; it’s a symbol of the nation’s growth and independence. From its initial release to the modern designs, the tenge tells the story of Kazakhstan’s progress and aspirations.

Kazakhstani tenge banknote series

Kazakhstan Banknotes 

The National Bank of Kazakhstan issues the nation’s banknotes. The banknotes are known for their unique designs, which reflect the country’s rich heritage and culture. 

A new series of banknotes known as the “Saka style” series was issued to enhance the security features of the tenge and celebrate Kazakhstan’s cultural values and history. Here’s a quick breakdown of the current notes:

200 KZT banknote: See the stunning Baiterek monument and a special signature from President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the front. Flip over to see the impressive Ministry of Transportation and Communications building.

500 KZT banknote: You’ll be greeted by the majestic Kazakh Eli monument alongside the sacred bird Samruk. The back is just as lovely, with a map of Kazakhstan and seagulls flying over the Caspian Sea.

1000 KZT banknote: This note is a real beauty! The front features graceful doves and the striking Kazakh Eli monument in Astana. The back offers a neat outline of Kazakhstan and the breathtaking Ustyurt plateau.

2000 KZT banknote: The front of this note is a delight with doves, the Kazakh Eli monument, and charming Saiga antelope illustrations. On the back, you’ll find a lovely depiction of Kazakhstan’s map and the serene Irtysh River.

5000 KZT banknote: Animal lovers are in for a treat with this one! Snow leopards, doves, and the Kazakh Eli monument grace the front. The back showcases the Independence Monument and the iconic Hotel Kazakhstan in Almaty.

10000 KZT banknote: Gaze at the peace doves and the Kazakh Eli monument on the front of this elegant note. The back is equally impressive, featuring the residence of the President of Kazakhstan.

20000 KZT banknote: This special commemorative bill celebrates Kazakhstan with the national flag, doves, and the Mangilik El Arch on the front. Flip it to see a portrait of the President, the grand Presidential Palace, and a lovely view of the capital city.

These tenge banknotes aren’t just currency; they’re like little pieces of art, each telling a unique story of the nation’s rich history, culture, and natural beauty. It’s incredible how much you can learn about a place just by looking at its currency!

Kazakhstan coins 

The coins in circulation in Kazakhstan include denominations of ₸5, ₸10, ₸20, ₸50, ₸100, and ₸200. There are also ₸1 and ₸2 coins, but these are used less frequently. The coins are known for their unique designs and materials.

Kazakh coins’ designs blend modern technology and artistic craftsmanship, reflecting the nation’s rich cultural and historical heritage. 

These coins depicted stylised and mythical animals, showcasing the country’s diverse fauna.

Kazakhstan’s coinage has a rich history, reflected in the diverse materials and designs. These coins serve as a medium of exchange and offer a glimpse into the country’s cultural and historical heritage.

The Lost Сity of nomads on the Ili River, near Almaty, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s currency: Must-know interesting facts

Introduction of the tenge: The country introduced its own currency, the tenge (KZT), on November 15, 1993, marking a significant step in its post-Soviet independence. This move was crucial in establishing its own economic identity separate from the former Soviet Union.

Origins of the currency name: The name “tenge” for Kazakhstan’s currency has fascinating historical and linguistic roots. It derives from the word “tenga”, used in the Turkic languages of medieval Central Asia. In these languages, “tenga” was a term for coins, particularly those used during the Silk Road.

Currency redesigns: Over the years, the tenge has undergone several redesigns to enhance security features and modernise its look. These redesigns also reflect the nation’s evolving identity and economic development. The current notes are vertically orientated.

Award-winning banknotes: The tenge has gained international recognition for its design and security features. It has been honoured with the prestigious “Banknote of the Year” award by the International Banknote Society (IBNS) multiple times. In 2011, the 10,000 tenge bill won this coveted award for the first time!


Need to exchange your pounds for tenge? You’re in the perfect spot!

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We’ll make sure it’s delivered quickly and securely to your home or office through Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed®.

And if you’re near Heathrow, why not stop by our bureau to collect your tenge in person? We’re dedicated to making your currency exchange experience smooth and easy!

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Here’s how to do it: Visit our page and click the ‘sell currency’ button. Select ‘KZT Kazakhstani tenge’ from the dropdown menu. 

We offer great rates for your leftover tenge! Change your tenge currency back to GBP in no time. Start your hassle-free currency exchange with just a click!

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