Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tenge beats Ruble

It looks like Kazakhstan's Tenge beats out the older, much better known, and much more established Russian Ruble in terms of being "a normal currency."

Actually, the Ruble was Kazakhstan's original currency. That area had used the Ruble since before it was called "Kazakhstan." The Russians brought the Czarist Ruble with them when they colonized Central Asia. It used the Soviet Ruble when the Kirghiz Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic became the Kazakh ASSR in 1925. For the first two years of Kazakhstan's independence (1991-1993), it continued to use the Russian Ruble until the Tenge was introduced in 1993. The Tenge has had an internationally-recognized symbol (Tenge symbol.svg) since 2007, although when I was there in 2009 and 2010, no one in the country seemed to use it.

But it exists! Officially the Kazakhstani currency has a symbol. The exchange-rate app on my iPhone even uses it.


So how did the Tenge get this far ahead of the Russian Ruble? Why is the Russian central bank just voting on a symbol now when a young upstart like the KZT has had one for years?

And we can all agree that Variant #3 is the best Ruble symbol, right? It looks both like a Latin Character "R" with the double lines that usually denotes currency, and the first two letters of the word Ruble in Cyrillic (Ру). Variant #2 wouldn't be that bad if it didn't remind me of the Russian Orthodox cross, which just seems like a bad idea in these nationalistic times.