|Banknotes||200VT, 500VT, 1000VT, 2000VT, 5000VT, 10,000VT|
|Coins||1VT, 2VT, 5VT, 10VT, 20VT, 50VT, 100VT|
|Central bank||Reserve Bank of Vanuatu|
|Source||The World Factbook, 2007 est.|
The vatu has no subdivisions.
|Current VUV exchange rates|
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The vatu was introduced in 1981, one year after independence, to replace the New Hebrides franc at par. The vatu was issued as a single unit with no subunit, having 1 vatu being the smallest denomination possible, in a similar vein to the Japanese yen and Tajikistani ruble.
The official ISO code for the Vanuatu vatu is VUV. Its nationally recognized symbol Vt. is the most often used in written format but it is also sometimes written up with the $ symbol. The vatu's introduction also saw the end of the official circulation of the Australian dollar in Vanuatu.
Vanuatu's first post colonial coin was a 50 vatu coin introduced in 1981 and commemorated independence. It was struck in cupro-nickel like previous issues and was released into circulation, though originally its release was targeted more towards collectors. Shortly thereafter, in 1983, 1, 2, 5, vatu coins were released in aluminum bronze and 10, 20, and 50-vatu coins were introduced in cupro-nickel, replacing the coinage of the New Hebrides Franc as the new circulation currency. This also replaced the Australian currency that was circulating in the British controlled islands. All Vanuatu coins depict the Vanuatu coat of arms, consisting of a native warrior in front of a whorled pig's tusk, a traditional item of value. The reverses depict other traditional items of value.
Due to Vanuatu's French colonial history, the current vatu coins have the same size and coloration of the coins of New Hebrides which are based in part on French units, particularly the 1, 2, and 5 vatu in their similarity in size and composition to the 5, 10, and 20 centimes of the old French Franc. The 10, 20, and 50 vatu bear some similarities to Australian coins but are actually slightly larger with closer approximate size to coins of similar valuation to those in New Caledonia, and French Polynesia. In 1988, a nickel-brass 100 vatu coin was introduced, this coin replaced the 100 vatu note. The coin is of the same size and general thickness of the British 1 pound coin.
In 2011 the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu ceased to issue 1 and 2 vatu coins, which had become infrequently used due to inflation. Prices in Vanuatu stores are now rounded to the nearest 5 vatu.
As part of a coinage reform, new coins were minted in 2015 by the Royal Australian Mint.
These coins are denominated 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Vatu.
|Denomination||Composition||Diameter||Design on reverse|
|1 vatu||Nickel-brass||16 mm||Shell|
|2 vatu||19 mm|
|5 vatu||23 mm|
|10 vatu||Cupro-nickel||24 mm||Coconut crab|
|20 vatu||28 mm|
|50 vatu||33 mm||Yams|
|100 vatu||Nickel-brass||23 mm||Coconuts|
|Denomination||Composition||Diameter||Design on reverse|
|5 vatu||Copper-plated steel||19 mm||Traditional outrigger canoe|
|10 vatu||Nickel-plated steel||21 mm||Coconut crab|
|20 vatu||Nickel-plated steel||24.2 mm||Traditional community leaders or "jifs"|
|50 vatu||Nickel-plated steel||27 mm||Kava and coconut|
|100 vatu||Aluminum-zinc-bronze||23.25 mm||Parliament building|
On 22 March 1982, notes were introduced by the Central bank of Vanuatu in denominations of 100, 500, and 1,000 vatu. These officially replaced franc notes of the former New Hebrides. In 1988 the 100 vatu note was withdrawn from circulation and replaced by a 100 vatu coin. In 1989, 5,000 vatu notes were introduced.
In 1993, after a financial restructure, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu took over paper money issuance and introduced newly designed notes for 500 and 1000 vatu. 200-vatu notes were first introduced in 1995 to cut down on the amount of 100 vatu coins received in change and the need to meet demand by producing more. In 2011, new 5,000 vatu notes were also issued in polymer. Polymer 10,000 notes were issued as a commemorative issue on 28 July 2010. As of 2013 they are no longer in circulation.On 9 June 2014, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu introduced a new series of notes printed on polymer, among the new series of notes is a new denomination of 2,000 vatu.
Local residents sometimes refer to a notional dollar, equal to 100 vatu, without specifying which country's currency they have in mind. This stems from the period 1966–1973, when the New Hebrides franc was pegged to the Australian dollar at a rate of 100 francs = 1 dollar. Although no relationship currently exists, it simplifies thinking in the larger numbers which a low-value unit causes. For example, the Government's budget of 6,000,000,000VT is in fact only about US$50,000,000.
The concept of this notional dollar is supported by the size of the 100 vatu coin: at 23 mm, it is comparable to the Australian dollar (25 mm) and the New Zealand dollar (23 mm) but the thickness is equivalent to the current British pound coin.
Pounds and shillings
In some Vanuatu languages, in which counting in large numbers is cumbersome and not well known, 10 vatu is colloquially referred to as "one shilling", and 200 vatu is referred to as "one pound". For example, in Apma language, "50 vatu" would be selen kalim "five shillings". This roughly reflects the historical exchange rate of the vatu against the pound, although since 2008 the number of vatu to the pound has been significantly lower than this.
Alternative currencies in Vanuatu
Many communities in Vanuatu continue to conduct ceremonial business such as the paying of fines and bride-prices using traditional items of value, such as pigs, curved boars' tusks and long dyed mats. Vatu is sometimes used as a substitute for traditional valuables in such ceremonies, although the National Council of Chiefs discourages this.
- The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu. "Current Banknotes and Coins in Circulation." Accessed 2 March 2013.
- Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Vanuatu". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: www.BanknoteNews.com.
- , BanknoteNews.com. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Vanuatu new 200-, 1,000-, and 2,000-vatu polymer notes confirmed BanknoteNews.com. 16 July 2014. Retrieved on 2014-08-14.
- Gray 2013, The Languages of Pentecost Island
- Krause, Chester L.; Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501.
- Pick, Albert (1994). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (7th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-207-9.