Indonesia is the largest archipelago on the globe. The scenery varies as much as the mixture of races and cultures. Near Australia and sitting in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Indonesia is enormous and diverse. It exports oil and liquid petroleum products as well as rubber and textiles. Its currency is the rupiah. It lists under the letters IDR.
Currency in Indonesia dates back to the 4th century A.D. and local coins from the Gupta Dynasty. It was not until the 12th century coinage began to be used with frequency in the country. A Chinese report makes reference to the existence of money in Indonesia. The Indonesians at the time also imported Chinese coins. In Sumatra, however, the influence came from Islamic designs, In the 14th century, the local Sultanate of Sumatra issued gold and tin coins with Arabic inscriptions.
In the 15th century, the major
influence on Indonesian currency was European. The Portuguese,
Venetians and Spanish provided silver dollars. Later, the Dutch and
British set up trading settlements in Java and Sumatra. The British
East India Company issued coins from 1786 to 1804 for the Sumatra
settlement. It was the Dutch East India Company, however, who provided
much of the currency from the 17th 18th and 19th centuries.
The Dutch first introduced Japanese and Chinese coins. In 1643, the first Indian rupiah appeared. Yet, most of the currency consisted of imitations and restamping of Chinese coins. Eventually, the Dutch began to strike coins for Indonesia. These ducats and silver rupees bore Arabic inscriptions in 1744. The design essentially remained the same until WWI.
Coins also underwent a change in WWII. The occupation by the Japanese saw the use of sen, particularly the common 10 sen coin. With Independence following the war, the coinage began to change over time. It took until 1950 and 1951 for Indonesia to mint its own coins reflecting the country. The first issues included both sen and rupiah with 1 sen equaling 1 rupiah. Further changes took place during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The new rupiah came into being in 1965 followed by redesigned and deflated coinage in the 1990s. Indonesia did not issue coins after the inflationary problems of the 1960s until the following decade. The Asian Financial Crisis (1997-1998) created heavy monetary consequences in Indonesia.
Today, the coins currency consists of 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 rupiahs. The banknotes are in denominations of 500 (rare), 1,000, 5,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rupiahs.
Obtaining Indonesian Rupiahs
You can exchange your own currency for Indonesian Rupiahs at banks and privately run exchange offices. You can locate many of them in the big cities. Some of the private moneychangers are in the tourist regions. Be careful and count your money. Scams are not rare. ATMs are another viable source of cash. You can find them on most of the islands. Be careful to check the rates and the authenticity of the machines.
Protecting Your Currency
In Indonesia, petty theft is now a fact-of-life. Never leave your personal belongings alone. Be wary of pickpocketing and purse snatching. Armed robberies are on the increase. So, too are forced withdrawals from ATMs. Take care what taxi you use. When you drive, be sure the doors are locked and the windows closed tightly.
Using Your Indonesian Rupiahs
You can always use this currency throughout the many different islands. You can purchase gifts and souvenirs for friends, relatives and acquaintances back home.opt for the silver filigree work at Yogka or batik, leather goods or pottery. You can also stroll the antique markets for fine silver jewelry. Another option is a traditional Javanese wooden trunk.
Travel Tips and Warnings
- There is civil unrest in Indonesia. Do not venture into areas where religious strife, political problems and demonstrations against the high cost of food are occurring.
- Avoid Maluku and Sulavesi.
- In 2007, there were a series of explosions at a Bali resort. Take care even in tourist resorts and areas.
- Pirate attacks can occur on the sea.
- Respect the presence of conservative religions. Dress appropriately.
- The islands have two separate time zones.
- Visit the largest Buddhist stupa in the world at Borobudur or a Hindu Temple at Prambanar.
- Visit the galleries at Udud.
- On Java, there is the Maritime Museum and the National Museum as well as exhibits of Javanese dancing.
- You can see surf and beaches at Bakit or go to the kat-weaving village.
- Why not go to Komod and Rinca Islands, home to the Komodo Lizard.
the Pacific and Indian Oceans, amidst the Bali Sea, is Indonesia. Its
size and scenery make it a desirable place to visit. There are problems
in this paradise. The rising cost of food and religious tensions make
it a powder keg for civil unrest.
For travel information, see www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia.
Current currency: Rupiah
Coins: 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 rupiahs.
Banknotes: 500 (rare), 1,000, 5,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rupiahs.