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Myanmar (Burma) Currency Guide

The current official currency of Myanmar (Burma) is the “kyat.” A kyat is subdivided into 100 “pya.” The ISO 4217 code for the kyat is “MMK.” It is typically represented by a “K” when written with numerical value. The current incarnation of the kyat was introduced only in 1952.

Early Burma

Burma, as Myanmar was called at the time, had no formal system of currency until the middle of the 19th century. The kyat made its first appearance in 1852. The kyat was minted in both a gold and silver coin. The gold kyat was worth around 16 silver kyat.

This first kyat remained in circulation until 1889. By the end of the 19th century, the British annexed Burma as a means of countering France’s growing power in Indochina. When the British became the ruling colonial power, it introduced the Indian rupee. The Indian rupee replaced kyat and was valued on par with the silver kyat.

India also started printing paper money for use in Burma. It was the same as the Indian banknotes, except that it was printed in the Burmese language. During World War II, Burma came under Japanese control and it introduced a new rupee that existed only as paper notes.

The kyat was reintroduced in 1943, but only stayed in circulation for two years. At the end of the war, the kyat was worthless and the Japanese left. The rupee was reintroduced.

Independent Burma

Burma gained its independence in 1948. It began printing its own rupee, but replaced that with the current version of the kyat in 1952. A military junta took over in 1961 and imposed socialist policies. There is an official exchange rate of kyat against the U.S. dollar, but the black market exchange dominates.

Kyat Currently in Circulation

The following banknotes are in circulation:

– 50 pyas

The following coins are in circulation:

– 50 pyas
– 25 pyas
– 10 pyas
– 5 pyas
– 1 pya

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