The rand (ZAR) is the official currency of South Africa. It is named after the geological ridge in which most of South Africa’s gold deposits were discovered. The rand is a young currency, having been introduced in 1961.
Previously South Africa had used the pound sterling in its local denomination of South African pounds. The South African pound was equal in value to the pound sterling until 1931, when Britain devalued the pound sterling. As England’s gold reserves were bled dry due to an outflow of gold to the United States, South Africa held ground with the value of the South African pound, speculating that the flight of gold from London would boost South African exports. Alas, the value of the South African pound ended up crippling the gold export industry, and South Africa also abandoned the gold standard in 1933 and devalued the South African pound, returning to parity with the pound sterling.
The rand was officially adopted in 1961 at a rate of R$2=£1. It steadily lost value against the US dollar as sanctions coupled with political and social issues rocked the country for decades. The currency staged a comeback in 2002 as South Africa implemented social and economic reforms but since 2008 has been losing value against the US dollar.
The gold price in South African rands was as low as R50 in 1973 and reached a high of
South Africa holds 125 tonnes of gold reserves, equivalent to 12.2% of its foreign exchange reserves.
The official mint of South Africa is the South African Mint Company Limited. Today it issues a number of commemorative and bullion coins, the most popular being the South African Gold Krugerrand, a gold/copper alloy coin featuring exceptional durability.