Article by Currency Information and Research

Brief History of the Singapore Dollar

For over a century since 1945, Singapore, like all other British colonies, used the Straits Dollar. This currency was only replaced in 1939 when the country obtained independence from Britain as a Malaysian state. Along with other states then, Singapore began using the Malaysian Dollar. However, this was not to last as only two years after jointly obtaining independence. Irreconcilable differences between the state and the Malaysian government led to Singapore going its own way and forming a separate country, thus the Republic of Singapore was born. The Board of Commissions of Currency was then formed to coordinate and make decisions on matters concerning currency. This is the board responsible for coining the term Singapore Dollar in the first place. However, the Singapore dollar continued to be exchangeable at par with the Malaysian currency even after that.

The very first of the Singapore dollars known as the “orchids”, were minted in 1967. They had pictures of orchid on their fronts and were in nine different denominations, ranging from one dollar to one thousand dollars. These were however withdrawn from circulation in 1976 to be replaced by what came to be known popularly as the “bird”. The latter had pictures of a bird on their left side. Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is that 25 dollar notes were replaced by 20 dollar bank notes. The “bird” was replaced in 1984 by the ship series which saw the 20 dollar bill being strapped altogether and a 2 dollar note introduced. This was perhaps a result of continued economic growth; a sign that the currency was growing stronger. The currency in use to date, which has been since 1999, is commonly referred to as the portrait and contains portraits of important personalities in the history of the country.

The Singapore dollar was at first pegged to the Sterling Pound until the end of the Sterling area. It was later pegged on the US Dollar after that. However, as the economy continued to diversify, there was need to need to adopt a market oriented approach where the currently is let to float while being monitored by the Monetary Agency of Singapore.

The Singapore Dollar has maintained an attractive rise in value and returns even in a neighborhood that is infamous for its turmoil and instability, and it will be interesting to see how this is maintained against the fast expanding world economy.

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