Indonesia Currency Guide: The Rupiah

The official currency of Indonesia is the Rupiah. Its international currency code is IDR. Technically, it is subdivided into 100 sen. However, inflation has made the sen essentially worthless, and sen-denominated coins and banknotes are no longer in circulation.

The rupiah was first issued by the Indonesian Republican government in 1946. This was after a long period of conquering and reconquering of the islands by the Japanese, Dutch, and the Allied forces of World War II. During periods of Japanese and Dutch occupation, there existed a myriad of different currencies. These other currencies continued to circulate at first, owing to the fact that the Indonesian Republican government had little actual control beyond the island of Java.

The rupiah was further solidified when the government nationalized the Dutch bank in Indonesia in 1951. The following decades were a period of massive inflation, and the Indonesian government replaced the rupiah with the ‘new rupiah’ in 1965, at a rate of 1000:1. High rates of inflation continued, although the rupiah did begin to stabilize in the 1990s. The Asian financial collapse of the late 1990s was devastating to Indonesia and the rupiah lost as much as 80% of its value against the USD in just a few months.

There are plans to revalue the currency at a 1000:1 ratio again, but these plans will not come into effect until 2015 at the earliest.