In this week’s article, we’re looking at how currency is used in the world’s smallest countries. Take a read below:
(We’ve based our list on the ten smallest countries by population size and also only looking at countries that are fully recognised independent sovereign states.)
🇻🇦 Vatican City | Population: 800 (Euro)
The Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, its territory is less than one square mile and is located in the heart of Italy’s capital Rome. The country is ruled by the Pope.
Historically, the Vatican was much more powerful and had vast lands. The Papal States covered large swathes of Central Italy and had their own currency- the Roman Scudo.
In 1929 when the Vatican as we know it today was created, it established the Vatican Lira which was to be set at par and used interchangeably with the Italian Lira. When Italy joined the Euro in 2002, the Vatican followed suit.
Today it is in a formal monetary agreement with the European Union. It has its own Euro coins featuring the Papal Coat of Arms.
🇳🇷 Nauru | Population: 10,876 (Australian Dollar)
Nauru is a tiny island nation that’s just 480 square kilometres, making it the world’s smallest island nation. Given its size, it would be impossible for it to use its own currency.
Between the end of the Second World War and 1966, the country was administered by Australia on behalf of the UN. It introduced the Australian Dollar to the island when it took over control. After independence, Nauru’s new government chose to continue to use AUD.
Interestingly, there are only a couple of ATMs on the island and they regularly run out of cash, therefore when people go to the island, they are recommended to take plenty of cash.
Tuvalu | Population: 11,931 (Australian Dollar)
Like Nauru, Tuvalu also formally uses the Australian Dollar. However, it actually does have its own currency, the Tuvalu Dollar.
This currency though is not recognised as a formal currency in its own right.
The Tuvaluan dollar is only available in coin form and these are treated as a variation of the Australian Dollar. 1 Tuvaluan Dollar coin is interchangeable with one Australian Dollar coin, both of which circulate on the island.
🇵🇼 Palau | Population: 18,169 (US Dollar)
The Republic of Palau consists of over 5,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. Their nearest neighbours are the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
The country was administered by the United States on behalf of the United Nations for a number of years. In the 70s it chose to not join the newly created Federated States of Micronesia and instead become an independent nation in its own right.
The country is in a formal association/treaty agreement with the US who provide for most of the island’s services. It is therefore logical that the US Dollar is the currency of the nation.
🇸🇲 San Marino | Population: 34,017 (Euro)
San Marino is in a very similar position to the Vatican City. It used the Sammarinese Lira from the 1860s until 2002. This was pegged at par with the Italian Lira and could be used also in Italy and in the Vatican City.
When Italy joined the Euro in 2002, San Marino followed suit.
Today it is in a formal monetary agreement with the European Union. It has its own Euro coins featuring a selection of imagery from this tiny nation.
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein | Population: 38,250 (Euro)
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a tiny, German-speaking nation-state in the Alps. It borders both Austria and Switzerland.
Following the end of the First World War, the country needed support and therefore entered into a monetary and economic union with its bigger neighbour Switzerland. Since 1920 it has used the Swiss Franc. This replaced the Austro-Hungarian krone.
Liechtenstein is a member of the European Free Trade Association in its own right. A Liechtenstein Franc does technically exists, however, it is only for numismatic purposes.
🇲🇨 Monaco | Population: 39,511 (Euro)
The tiny principality of Monaco is just 0.78 sq. miles, making it the world’s second smallest country by geographic size.
It has been independent for several hundred years, tracing its origins back to the Middle Ages.
Given its location (on the French Mediterranean Coast) and size, the principality’s economy has been entwined with that of its giant neighbour, France. The currency of France has therefore almost always been used in Monaco in one form or another.
Until 1995, Monaco used a variation of the French Franc (FF), the Monegasque Franc, which was set at par with the FF and only used in coin form. The country always used FF banknotes.
In preparation for the transition to the Euro, they ceased using the Monegasque franc variation in 1996. The country then followed France into the Euro in 2002. Today Monaco officially uses the Euro and mints its own Euro coins.
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts & Nevis | Population: 53,544 (East Caribbean Dollar)
For the last couple of hundred years, many of the islands of the Caribbean have been in one form of a currency union or another.
During British imperial rule, the currency of the islands was the British West Indies Dollar. This was replaced by an independent currency, the East Caribbean Dollar following de-colonisation.
The EC$ is managed by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank which is actually based in Basseterre, St. Kitts.
Other countries that use the ECD are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.
🇲🇭 Marshall Islands | Population: 59,610 (US Dollar)
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a collection of islands situated between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii.
It has followed a similar history to Palau and has a very similar economic history and set-up (detailed above.) Like Palau, they use the US Dollar as their currency.
🇩🇲 Dominica | Population: 72,167 (East Caribbean Dollar)
As detailed above, like Saint Kitts & Nevis, Dominica uses the East Caribbean Dollar.
Other countries that use the ECD are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.
- Honorable mention -
🇸🇨 Seychelles | Population: 99,258 (Seychellois Rupee)
The Seychelles gets an honourable mention here because it is the world’s smallest country to have its own fully independent currency.
The Seychellois rupee has been in use for over 100 years, being formally introduced in 1914 by a British Colonial Administration. Up until that point the colony used Sterling. For a long time it was pegged, however, in 2008 it was freely floated.
The Seychelles maintains its own monetary policy and the Rupee is managed by the Central Bank of Seychelles which is based on the largest island of the nation, Mahé.