inspired by the weekly photo challenge – numbers – i decided to write a bit more about liberian money. the local currency is the Liberian Dollar, known as LDs. at the moment 1 US$ is about 72 LDs. when i arrived in liberia nearly 3 years ago it was 1 US$ to 60 LDs, so i guess that indicates that it is fairly stable.
liberia has two currencies that are accepted all over – the LD and the USD – and its all paper-based exchange, in that everything is transacted with notes. i’ve only rarely seen coins used, and plastic (credit cards) are only just starting to be used at the few ATMs and larger hotels around. personally, i think its safer not to ever get the plastic out so that you don’t have to get a new card when you return home.
this foto is of a few new notes that i put in my souvenir box, just to give you an idea what the Liberian Dollar looks like. i don’t know if they have any plans to print a new note with the current President’s face on it, but i guess there are more pressing matters for her to ponder than new currency.
the currency is actually quite durable if you think about it. most notes were printed in the early 2000′ s although my current collexion has a note dated from 1999 and one from 2009. the notes pass through many hands, so they usually end up faded, crumpled and stinking like mouldy, rotten flesh…and looking something like this. i would suggest washing hands thoroughly after handling money and its probably also advisable to drop your empty purse in the bin when you leave liberia for good. it doesn’t bear thinking what bacteria and strange fungal growth might lurk inside it!
even though USD (and EUR) are accepted across different African countries, many countries are quite fussy about the condition of the notes they will accept. for instance in Uganda they will only accept USD printed after 2000 (or they’ll give you a lousy exchange rate if you convince them to accept the older notes) also many African countries expect you to have local currency in your pocket to buy goods on the street, which is only polite afterall when you are travelling into their world. in liberia the USD is accepted by every street vendor, people hope to have their salaries paid in USD, and they will accept notes of any year in almost any condition. so if you have a load of old US currency that you can’t exchange or spend elsewhere, it will most likely be accepted in liberia. 🙂