Currency Wiki
Not to be confused with the Zambian 1 kwacha coin.
Malawi 1 kwacha 2012
2012 coin
General information

Flag of Malawi Malawi


1.00 kwacha



Measurements and composition
  • 28.28 g (1971)
  • 9 g (1992-2003)
  • 9.5 g (2004)
  • 3 g (2012-2013)
  • 39 mm (1971)
  • 26 mm (1992-2004)
  • 20 mm (2012-2013)
  • 2.5 mm (1996-2003)
  • 1 mm (2012-2013)
  • cupronickel (1971)
  • copper-nickel-zinc (1992)
  • brass-plated steel (1996-2004)
  • stainless steel (2012-2013)




  • reeded (1992-2013)
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The 1 kwacha coin is a current circulation and former commemorative piece of the Republic of Malawi, issued in five primary types since 1971. The first type, a non-circulating legal tender commemorative, was issued in 1971 under President Hastings Banda (1898–1997), in celebration of the decimalization of Malawian currency. However, a circulation piece denominated at 1 kwacha would not be introduced until 1992, over twenty years later. It was followed in 1996 by a redesigned coin of President Bakili Muluzi (1943–), which would later be struck again in 2003. In 2004 a third 1 kwacha coin was introduced for circulation, and was eventually succeeded by another issued from 2012 to 2013.

Coins of all five types currently hold a legal tender face value equivalent to 1.00 kwacha. The 1971 commemorative, although not necessarily intended for circulation, has seen some use in its issuing country. Thus, the piece is accordingly included in Krause's Collecting World Coins: Circulating Issues 1901 - Present alongside the other types.

The coins have been distributed by the Reserve Bank of Malawi and produced at the British Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales.

Certain versions of the popular Standard Catalog of World Coins list five types (KM# 201-205) of gold and silver 2009 1 kwacha bullion coins. However, such coins are included under erroneous denominations. The pieces, part of the Der Gold-Premium-Satz Impala 2009 ("Gold Premium Impala Set 2009") minted by Reppa, actually bear face values of 50, 75, 150, and 200 kwacha.


Decimalization commemorative coin (1971)[]

Malawi 1 kwacha 1971

1971 coin

As a result of social pressures in Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the United Kingdom granted autonomy to its Nyasaland Protectorate in 1963, with diplomat Hastings Banda as the territory's Prime Minister. Nyasaland became fully independent a year later, in 1964, and was renamed to the Republic of Malawi. The position of Prime Minister was then abolished, and Banda assumed the title of President. During the first year of independence, Malawi introduced its own pound to replace the earlier currency of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. However, a few years later, in 1971, the decimalized kwacha was introduced, replacing the pound at a rate of 2 kwacha = 1 pound (or 1 kwacha = 10 shillings). The Reserve Bank of Malawi that year contracted the British Royal Mint to strike a series of coins for the new currency, consisting of denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 tambala, along with a commemorative 1 kwacha piece. All of the coins were designed and engraved by Hungarian British sculptor Paul Vincze (1907–1994), an employee of the Royal Mint.

The 1 kwacha coin is composed of a cupronickel alloy (75% copper, 25% nickel), and is the size of a crown, measuring 28.28 grams in mass and approximately 39 millimeters in diameter. It has medallic alignment, and like most coins, is round in shape. Its edge is plain and bears the lettering "DECIMAL CURRENCY INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 15TH, 1971", which refers to the date the kwacha was first issued. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.

The obverse of the piece was initially designed by Vincze in 1964, and first appeared on that year's coins of the Malawian pound. It features a right-facing bust of President Hastings Banda wearing formal attire, with a ribbon bearing the state title "MALAWI" arched in a counterclockwise direction below. On the Malawian coins from 1964, the "P.V." initials of the artist are engraved in small print to the left of Banda's likeness, near the base of his neck. However, these are omitted from the 1971 kwacha coin. The reverse of the piece greatly resembles that of the 1964 Malawian half crown. Featured at the top center is the coat of arms of Malawi – which consists of a central escutcheon bearing horizontal wavy lines, a lion passant, and a rising sun, supported to the left by a lion (Panthera leo) and to the right by a leopard (Panthera pardus). The two big cats are shown standing on the Mulanje Massif in the arms, above a scroll bearing the national motto "UNITY AND FREEDOM". Surmounting the escutcheon are a mantled helmet and an African fishing eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) in front of a rising sun and water. As with the obverse, the "P.V." initials of Vincze are included on the 1964 half crown but not on the 1971 kwacha. The Gregorian date of the kwacha coin's minting, "1971", is displayed in small print below the rendition of the arms, curved downward. Inscribed below that in larger font and in a counterclockwise direction along the bottom rim of the piece, is the face value "ONE KWACHA".

According to the Standard Catalog of World Coins, approximately 24,000 examples of the 1971 kwacha piece were produced, including 20,000 examples with a normal finish and 4,000 with a proof finish. Of these, 10,000 of the normal coins were included in mint sets and all of the proofs were placed into proof sets.

First general circulation coin (1992)[]

1 Kwacha

1992 coin

For nearly fifteen years, the denominations of Malawian coins in circulation remained unchanged. However, by 1986 the first 50 tambala piece was introduced, only to be followed about six years later, in 1992, by the first circulation 1 kwacha coin. Produced nearly 28 years into President Hastings Banda's rule, the kwacha piece was struck at the British Royal Mint, on contract with the Reserve Bank of Malawi. The designs of the obverse and reverse were adapted from earlier Malawian coins engraved by Paul Vincze.

The 1992 coin is made of an alloy of copper-nickel-zinc (or nickel-brass) of roughly 65 percent copper, 17 percent zinc, and 18 percent nickel. It weighs approximately 9 grams and measures 26 millimeters in diameter. The piece has a reeded edge and medallic alignment, and is round in shape. Both rims of the coin are raised and undecorated.

The obverse of the coin is nearly identical to that of the commemorative 1971 kwacha, featuring a right-facing bust of President Hastings Banda in the center, with a ribbon bearing the state title along the rim below. However, a circumflex (ˆ) is included over the "W" in "MALAWI", thus rendering the name of the nation on the piece as "MALAŴI". Such an accent, uncommon in English spellings of the nation's name, is more frequently used in the local Chewa (Chichewa) version, Malaŵi. It was first incorporated onto Malawian coins as early as 1984. Displayed at the upper center of the reverse is an illustration of a rooster (Gallus gallus domesticus) walking on flat earth toward the left side of the piece. A similar, albeit smaller image was placed on the original 1 tambala coin, and a reflected version was also engraved on the pre-decimal Malawian sixpence. The rooster itself is a symbol of the then-ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the political party to which Hastings Banda belonged. Written horizontally underneath the rear of the animal, to the right of its legs, is the Gregorian date of minting, "1992". The face value "ONE KWACHA" appears along the rim below the rooster, extending in a counterclockwise direction from the left to right sides of the piece.

The total mintage of the 1992 kwacha is currently unknown. Only business strikes are known to have been produced.

Coin of Bakili Muluzi (1996–2003)[]

Malawi 1 kwacha 1996

1996 coin

In the first multi-party election in Malawi's history, United Democratic Front candidate Bakili Muluzi received a plurality of the popular vote, thereby becoming the second President of Malawi in 1994. Soon after coming to power, Muluzi suggested the introduction of a redesigned series of coins. To satisfy the members of Hastings Banda's Malawi Congress Party, who were largely unsupportive of the change, the new government promised the older coins would not be withdrawn and circulate alongside the newer pieces. The series, consisting of denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tambala, and 1 kwacha, was introduced from 1995 to 1996. The higher denominated pieces were struck at the Royal Mint, and the others were produced at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa. The kwacha coin, first issued in 1996, was subsequently produced again in 2003, during the second-to-last year of Muluzi's presidency.

The second general circulation kwacha coin is composed of brass-plated steel, weighs approximately 9 grams, and measures 26 millimeters in diameter and 2.5 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment and a reeded edge, and is round in shape. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.

Displayed at the bottom center of the obverse is a right-facing bust of President Bakili Muluzi in a formal suit and tie, and printed in a clockwise direction along the rim above is the state title "MALAŴI". An African fish eagle is displayed in the middle of the reverse, swooping toward the lower left portion of the coin with extended talons and outspread wings. Such an animal, a bird of prey native to much of Sub-Saharan Africa, is common around Lake Malawi, and even appears in representation of the body of water on Malawi's coat of arms. Written horizontally below the tail feathers of the eagle is the Gregorian date of minting, either "1996" or "2003". The face value "ONE KWACHA" is inscribed along the bottom periphery of the reverse, extending from the left to right sides of the piece in a counterclockwise direction.

The total mintage of the kwacha coin of Bakili Muluzi is currently unknown. Only business strikes were produced for each year of minting.

Third and fourth general circulation coins (2004–2013)[]

Malawi 1 kwacha 2004

2004 coin

Having served two five-year terms as President, Bakili Muluzi could not legally run again in the 2004 election. That year, Bingu wa Mutharika (1934–2012), a 70-year-old economist supported by Muluzi, was elected President after receiving a majority of the popular vote. Mutharika remained in power until his death in 2012, and was then succeeded by Vice President Joyce Banda (1950–), who herself held the executive office until losing the presidency to Peter Mutharika (1940–) in the 2014 election.

With the new change in leadership in 2004, the 50 tambala and 1 kwacha coins were redesigned to no longer bear Muluzi's likeness. Also, in 2012 and 2013, during Joyce Banda's early administration, a new series of 1, 5, and 10 kwacha pieces was struck. Under commission by the Malawi Reserve Bank, the British Royal Mint struck all of the coins of both series. The designs of the 1 kwacha coins of 2004 and 2012–2013 (shown above) are very similar, with only one notable difference between the two. However, the compositions and sizes of the pieces are considerably different.

The 2004 coin is composed of brass-plated steel, weighs 9.5 grams, and measures 26 millimeters in diameter and 2.5 millimeters in thickness. On the other hand, pieces from 2012 and 2013 are made of stainless steel, and have a mass of 3 grams, a diameter of 20 millimeters, and a thickness of 1 millimeter. Both types have medallic alignment and reeded edges, and are round in shape. The rims of the obverses and reverses of the two pieces are raised and undecorated.

The obverses of the two types are identical, in spite of the disparities in size. Displayed in the middle is a rendition of the coat of arms of Malawi, which is based on Paul Vincze's engravings from earlier Malawian currency. "MALAŴI", with the circumflex over the "W", is printed along the bottom periphery of the piece in a counterclockwise direction, below the arms. Featured in the middle of the coins' reverses is the illustration of the African fish eagle from the piece of President Muluzi, swooping toward the lower left with extended talons and outspread wings. The face value "ONE KWACHA" appears below the eagle, written counterclockwise from the piece's left to right peripheries. The location of the date of minting on the coins is the only stylistic difference between the 2004 and 2012–2013 types. On the earlier piece, the year is printed in the same position as on the 1996 and 2003 coins, below the tail feathers of the eagle. However, on later examples it is displayed above the dexter wing of the eagle, in the upper left field.

The total mintages of the 2004 and 2012–2013 types are currently unknown. Only business strikes of both types exist.


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