The Currency of Kazkahstan is called the Tenge. The Tenge is divided into 100 Tiyn, however the Tiyn hasn’t been used in many years due to the value of the tenge. Since 1 Tenge is already under a third of a cent.
The word tenge means scales in most Turkic languages, which is quite interesting as many currencies around the world have used traditional words for scales to name their currencies. For example the Pound, Lira , Peso and Shekel. The Russian word for money, Dengi, is also related to the Turkic word Tenge.
When Kazakhstan left the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan continued to use the Soviet Ruble and then the Russian Ruble until November 1993 when the Kazakhstan Tenge was introduced.
Coins of the Kazakhstan Tenge
The current coins in circulation are the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Tenge. Quite often in shops if you are owed less than 20 tenge change they’ll give you a box of matches instead of the smaller valued coin. For example, at the moment the 1 Tenge coin is worth less than a quarter of a US cent.
Notes of the Kazakhstan Tenge
The notes of the Kazakhstan Tenge are some of the most colourful and beautiful in the world. Currently in circulation are the 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000 Tenge notes.
Controversy with language
Of all the Central Asian republics Kazakhstan still has the highest percentage of native Russian speakers. Even a significant number of ethnic Kazakhs still prefer to speak in the Russian language rather than Kazakh. Because of these factors and many more, language has continued to be a sensitive issue in Kazakhstan and this is even reflected in the Kazakhstan Tenge.
In 2006 the Kazakhstan Central Bank printed millions of 2000 and 5000 tenge notes where the Kazakh word for bank was misspelled ("банкі" banki was misspelled "бан қ і" ban q i).
ATMs and exchange in Kazakhstan
Being the most developed and economically strongest country in Central Asia has its advantages and one of them is that ATMs in Kazakhstan are as common as in any western country, likewise most restaurants and shops accept cards for payment as well. Also, because the Tenge is a fully floating convertible currency there are exchange shops in every city and town and offer great rates for most major currencies and even some more obscure ones.
One thing to note is that the Tenge is still a relatively volatile currency and when large changes in value occur, money changers and banks have been known to stop services while they grasp the quickly changing value of the Kazakhstan currency.
In a not very surprising move, Kazakhstan is the first country in Central Asia to announce they plan on creating their own digital currency, however this is but a dream at the moment and it still remains to be seen when this might occur and what the final product will look like.