Madagascar is a huge island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. It is home to thousands of animal species, such as lemurs, plus rainforests, beaches and reefs. Near the busy capital, Antananarivo, is Ambohimanga, a hillside complex of royal palaces and burial grounds, as well as the “Avenue of the Baobabs,” a dirt road lined by massive centuries-old trees.
The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats. Ecotourism and agriculture are key elements of Madagascar's development strategy and the country belongs to the group of least developed countries, according to the United Nations. The main economic resources of Madagascar are tourism, textile export, production and export agricultural and mining.
The Ariary is the currency of Madagascar and it is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja and is one of only two non-decimal currencies currently circulating. The names Ariary and Iraimbilanja derive from the pre-colonial currency, with ariary (from the Spanish word "real") being the name for a silver dollar. Iraimbilanja means literally "one iron weight" and was the name of an old coin worth 1/5 of an ariary.
Uptill January 1, 2005, the franc was the currency of Madagascar. It was subdivided into 100 centimes. In 1961, the Institut d’Emission Malgache (Malagasy Issuing Institute) introduced banknotes in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 francs.
Today we are looking at 500 Ariary / 2500 Francs banknote that was issued in 1993. The obverse has the portrait an older Malagasy woman in centre with plants to right. The reverse has wild animals and plants of Madagascar: like the Grey heron (Ardea cinerea), tortoise, Verreaux's Sifaka lemur (Propithecus verreauxi), butterfly, plants. This multi-coloured banknote has a Zebu's head as its watermark.
Image Courtesy: Numisbid