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South Pacific Paper Money

The South Pacific includes many distinct island regions. Some issue their own currency, while others are tied together under a collective. One such collective is the former French Pacific Colonies, now known as the Pacific Franc Exchange. The entity still uses the same initials of CFP. The CFP consists of French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna. CFP banknotes are produced by an institute in Paris. The obverse of CFP banknotes depicts New Caledonian culture and the reverse depicts French Polynesian culture.

The CFP is not the only economic entity that issues paper money in the South Pacific, of course. Fiji uses the dollar, while Samoa uses a variation of the dollar called a tala. Fijian dollars are interesting in that Fiji briefly used the dollar in the mid-19th century, but then returned to the pound standard after six years. Treasury notes exist from this first dollar period in a wide array of denominations, including a very unusual 12.5 cent bill.

The Samoan tala was created in 1967 as a means to break with the New Zealand pound after Samoa gained its independence from the larger island. Until 1975, the tala and the New Zealand dollar were equivalent to one another to facilitate commerce. The current run of Samoan tala notes was commissioned by the Samoan government from a private banknote manufacturer from England. They feature updated designs with state-of-the-art security features.

Quick Facts

  • Currency from the Cook Islands is favored among collectors for its very bright, vibrant color palette
  • Fiji has replaced the image of Queen Elizabeth II on its paper currency with images of local flora and fauna following the island's most recent suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations in 2009
  • Many early Samoan banknotes were printed over New Zealand-issued pound notes

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