Tanzania Money: Part III (Coins-Post Independence)

In 1966, the East Africa Currency Board was dissolved resulting in three independent central banks: The Bank of Tanzania, The Bank of Kenya and The Bank of Uganda.

The bank of Tanzania issued the Tanzanian Shilling coins in denominations of 5 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents and 1 shilling. The 5 cents coins was in bronze, the 20 cents in nickel-brass while the 50 sents and 1 shilling coins were in cupro-nickel. These coins ccarried a portrait of Mwalimu Nyerere and continued in circulation for almost 20 years while President Nyerere was in power. Images of these coins are shown below.

5 Cents


20 Cents


50 Cents


1 Shilling

In 1972, a 5 shillings coin was introduced also with a portrait of Nyerere. At that time its wa popularly known as the “Scania.” This coin was also in cupro-nickel and its image is shown below. It is believed that the first 5 Shillings coin was released as comemorative coin to mark 10 years of independence, however, the first version did not stay long in circvulation. At one time, it was believed to have been cast in precious matela that far exceeded the face value of the coin and became an object of interest to many fortune hunters.

5 Shilling

In 1974, very few coins of 25 shillings and 1000 shillings were released, I think, mainly for collectors. Many people never saw them. The apperance of the 25 coin is shown in the following image.

As the shilling value continued to decline, the 5 cents coin became almost useless, and in 1977 just after the birth of CCM, a 10 cents coin was introdued as an eventual replacement of the 5 cents coin. This coin was just like the 20 cents coin in nickel-brass: its image is shown below.


Following the FAO regional conference for Africa that was held in Arusha, Tanzania, from 18  to 28 September 1978, commemorative coins were released in 5 Shillings as showin in the following picture.

It is believed that several commemorative coins were released duing Nyerere’s era, but electronic records for most of them are missing. The last coin to be released under Nyerere’s watch was the 20 shilling coin that was released in 1982 to commemorate 20 years of independence. Its image is shown below.

After Nyerere had stepped down in 1985 and the presidency taken by Mr Mwinyi, the coins were redesigned into different material and dimensions; they were relatively smaller in size with the portrait of Mwinyi. Following massive devealuation of the shilling by Mwinyi, the 5, 10 and 20 cents became useless: they were retired from circulation. The first release of coins under Mwinyi in 1987 were in denominations of 50 cents, 1 shilling,  5 shillings and 10 shillings. They had the portrait of Mwinyi except the 10 shilling coin which carried the portraint of Nyerere as the founding father of the nation. The 50 sents and 1 shilling coins were minted in nickel-clad while the 5 shilling and the 10 shillin coins were in cupro-nickel. These coins are shown below, note that the the 5 shilling coin is octagonal in shape instead of the old decagon.

50 cents


1 shilling


5 shillings


1o shillings


However, as the shilling continued to decline, the Bank of Tanzania responded 1990 by minting the 5, and 10 shilling coins in nickel-clad-steel, and released a new 20 shiling coins shown below. At one time, a commemorative 5 Shilling coin was issued to mark the opening of the new Bank of Tanzania building; I could’t get its image.

Towards the end of Mwinyi reign, new 100 brass coins were released in 1994 with the portrait of Mwalimu Nyerere as a replacement of the 10 coin which had become almost useless in circulation. At that time the 50 cents,  1 shilling and the 5 shilling coins were also retired from circulation.

After Mkapa came to power, he abolished the system of casting images of reiging presidents on the currency; he wanted images of founding fathers to remain on the currency permanently. However, he did not want dowangrade the contribution of President Mwinyi ni building the nation, so new coins did not carry the portrait of Mkapa, instead they carried images of the founding fathers of the nation, Mwalimu Nyerere and Sheikh Karume as well as President Mwinyi. The first release was in 1996 where denominations of 50 shillings and 100 shillings coin were released.  The 100 Shilling coin did not change from its preveious design; howevere, the 50 Shillings coin was new in circulation, minted in brass carrying the portrait of Mwinyi as shown below.


In the same year, coins in 200 shillings were released to commemorate the 35th of independence and the 26th olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. These coins were bimetallic in copper and   nickel.




In the year 1997, two comemorative coins were released in 200 shilling and 500 shilling denominations. The 200 Shiling coins was released to mark the wild life of africa daya, and the 500 shilling coin was released to mark 75 years since the East African tour of Queen Elizabeth, the quee’s mother Elizabeth and her husband in 1923. Their images are as shown below.

200 Shillings


500 Shillings

In 1998, all 200 Shilling comemorative coins were replaced by a brass 200 Shiling coin that carried the portrait of Sheikh Karume as shown below. Along with it was a 500 coin released to promote Wildlives of Serengeti.

200 Coin


500 Coin


Since then, no new coins have been released. Coins in circulation have remained to be 50, 100 and 200 shillings only with portraits of Mwinyi, Nyerere and karume respectively. However, all retired coins are still legally accepted in all finacial transactions.


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