2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Currency

The Rupee ( or Rs.) (Hindi and Urdu: Rupiya, from Sanskrit rupyakam meaning coins of silver) is the common name for the currencies used in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, and Seychelles; in Indonesia the unit of currency is known as the rupiah and in the Maldives the rufiyah. The Indian rupee and the Pakistani rupee are subdivided into one hundred paise or pice (singular paisa), the Sri Lankan rupee into 100 cents and the Nepalese rupee can be subdivided into one hundred paisa or pice (both singular and plural) or four Sukas (sing. Suka) or two Mohors (sing. Mohor).


The word Rupiya was coined by Sher Shah Suri during his brief rule of India between ( 1540- 1545). It is said that, when he was shown the new coin, he remarked 'Rupaiiah', meaning beautiful. From then the name stuck and is prevalent even today. It was used for the silver coin weighing 178 grains. He also introduced copper coins called Dam and gold coins called Mohur that weighed 169 grains. Later on, the Mughal Emperors standardised this coinage of tri-metalism across the sub-continent in order to consolidate the monetary system.


The derivative word Rūpaya was used to denote the coin introduced by Sher Shah Suri during his reign from 1540 to 1545. The original Rūpaya was a silver coin weighing 178 grains (11.534 grams). The coin has been used since then, even during the times of British India, defined as 11.66 grams at 91.7‰ silver by weight (that is, silver worth about US$4 at modern prices). In the late 19th century the customary exchange rate was 1 rupee to one shilling and fourpence in British currency, or 1/15 of a pound sterling.

Valuation of the rupee based on its silver content had severe consequences in the nineteenth century, when the strongest economies in the world were on the gold standard. The discovery of vast quantities of silver in the United States and various European colonies resulted in a decline in the relative value of silver to gold. Suddenly the standard currency of India could not buy as much from the outside world. This development was known as " the fall of the Rupee."


Formerly the rupee (11.66 g, .917 fine silver) was divided into 16 annas, 64 paise, or 192 pies. In Arabia and East Africa the British India rupee was current at various times, including the paisa and was used as far south as Natal. In Mozambique the British India rupees were overstamped, and in Kenya the British East Africa company minted the rupee and its fractions as well as pice. It was maintained as the florin, using the same standard, until 1920. In Somalia the Italian colonial authority minted 'Rupia' to the exact same standard, and called the pice 'besa'. Early 19th century E.I.C. rupees were used in Australia for a limited period. Decimalisation occurred in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1869, India in 1957 and in Pakistan in 1961. Thus an Indian Rupee is now divided into 100 Paise and so is the Pakistani Rupee. Paise is sometimes referred to as Naya-Paise, meaning the "new-money" in India, a habit continued from when India became independent -- when the new country introduced new currency, people used Naya-Paise to distinguish it from the old currency. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India, whereas in the Pakistan it is controlled by State Bank of Pakistan. The most commonly used symbol for the Rupee is Rs. In most parts of India, the Rupee is known as Rupaye, Rubai, or one of other terms derived from the Sanskrit rupya, meaning silver. However, in the Bengali and Assamese languages, spoken in Assam, Tripura, and West Bengal, the Rupee is known as a Taka, and is written as such on Indian banknotes. In India and Pakistan currency is issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 Rupees. Large denominations of rupees are often counted in lacs or lakhs (100,000) crores (10,000,000) and Arabs (1 billion).

Popular Culture

  • The Rupee was the main currency in the hit Nintendo video game series The Legend of Zelda
Countries where the Rupee is the official currency
Countries where the Rupee is the official currency
  • The Indian Rupee is printed with 17 languages on it reading the amount


Unicode character U+0BF9 TAMIL RUPEE SIGN (௹) represents Rupee.

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