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5 zaires
Zaire 5 zaires 1987
1987 circulation coin
General information

Flag of Zaire Zaire


5.00 zaires



Measurements and composition
  • 27.84 g (1971)
  • 35 g (1975)
  • 6.9 g (1987)
  • ~35–36 mm (1971)
  • 42 mm (1975)
  • 24 mm (1987)

1.95 mm (1987)

  • silver (1971-1975)
  • brass (1987)




  • reeded (1975)
  • plain (1987)
  • Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, leader title, state title (1971)
  • Mobutu Sese Seko, bank title (1975)
  • Mobutu Sese Seko, value, year (1987)
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The 5 zaire coin is a circulation and commemorative coin of the Republic of Zaire, a former Central African state that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Under the rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko (1930–1997), the piece was issued in three types from 1971 to 1987. The first type, a non-circulating commemorative, was struck in 1971 to celebrate the opening of the InterContinental Hotel (now the Grand Hotel Kinshasa), a prominent five star hotel in Kinshasa. In recognition of conservation efforts for the local okapi (Okapia johnstoni), a second type of 5 zaire piece was then produced in 1975. The third and final type of the denomination, a circulation coin, was introduced in 1987 as a result of increasing inflation.

All three types were distributed by the Bank of Zaire and produced at foreign mints. They initially carried a legal tender face value of 5.00 zaires, but were eventually demonetized and withdrawn from circulation. Neither of the commemoratives saw much (if any) general use, as they were intended solely for collectors.


InterContinental Hotel coin (1971)[]

The InterContinental Hotel (now the Grand Hotel Kinshasa) was inaugurated by President Mobutu on October 3, 1971, less than a month before the first Democratic Republic of the Congo was renamed to the Republic of Zaire. It is currently the largest hotel in Kinshasa, and among the most popular hotels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In celebration of the InterContinental, a series of six commemorative coins was produced in 1971, consisting of one piece denominated at 5 zaires, two coins valued at 10 and 20 zaires, and another piece valued at 50 zaires. All were struck in precious metals.

The 5 zaire coin of the series is composed of .925 fine silver and has a mass of 27.84 grams and a diameter of approximately 35 to 36 millimeters. It has coin alignment and raised, undecorated rims, and is round in shape.

Displayed in the center of the obverse is a left facing bust of Mobutu Sese Seko wearing a collared suit and his signature thick-framed glasses. At the time of the coin's minting, the Zairean leader was still known by his birth name, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. This is reflected on the piece, which bears the caption "J.D. MOBUTU" below the president's likeness, engraved in a counterclockwise direction at the coin's rim. It is accompanied by the French state title of the Republic of Zaire, which extends clockwise from the obverse's left to right peripheries at the top of the piece. Typically, the state title is written as République du Zaïre, with an e-acute in République and an I with diaeresis in Zaïre. On the coin, however, it is rendered without either diacritic as "REPUBLIQUE DU ZAIRE". The state title and the name of the president are separated by a significant amount of space, as well as by two small circular points at the left and right sides of the obverse. A view of the InterContinental Hotel, including the main building and its outdoor swimming pool, is displayed in the middle of the reverse. Extending in a clockwise direction from the lower left to upper right rims of the piece is the legend "HOTEL INTER·CONTINENTAL·KINSHASA". Although the French word hôtel is typically written with an o-circumflex, it is displayed with an unaccented "O" on the coin. The face value "5 ZAÏRES" is written counterclockwise at the coin's bottom rim, followed by the Gregorian date of minting, "1971", which appears at the reverse's lower left periphery and is flanked by two small circular points.

The total mintage of the 1971 commemorative is currently unknown. All examples were minted as proofs. An unspecified number of the pieces were included in sets with the other five coins celebrating the InterContinental Hotel.

Conservation coin (1975)[]

Zaire 5 zaires 1975 (okapi)

1975 conservation commemorative

The okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a species of giraffid mammal native to the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Of particular concern to conservationists is the animal's decreasing population trend, which has reportedly been caused by a number of threats, including deforestation, bushmeat hunting, and human settlement. In recognition of conservation efforts of local fauna, the Bank of Zaire contracted the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom to strike a series of commemorative coins in denominations of , 5, and 100 zaires in 1975, with each piece featuring a different animal. The 5 zaire piece focuses on the okapi.

The 5 zaire coin is composed of .925 fine silver, weighs 35 grams, and measures 42 millimeters in diameter and 3 millimeters in thickness. It has coin alignment and a reeded edge, and is round in shape. The rims of both sides of the coin are raised and undecorated.

The obverse resembles that the Zairean 10 likuta coin, which was designed by Belgian artist Roger Duterme (1919–1997) in 1972, and first appeared in circulation in 1973. It features a large illustration of President Mobutu in the center, facing ¼ right and wearing a collared shirt and glasses. Accompanying the portrait is the French title of the Bank of Zaire, "BANQUE DU ZAÏRE", which is written clockwise from the left to right peripheries of the piece, with the word "BANQUE" appearing at the left periphery and "DU ZAÏRE" at the right. The dots in the diaeresis in "ZAÏRE" are presented around the upper portions of the "I", but not above as is usual in writing. Displayed in the middle of the reverse is a left-facing illustration of an okapi, flanked to the left by four branches and to the right by a single branch. "CINQ ZAIRES" (English: "Five zaires"), with the I with diaeresis in "ZAIRES" omitted, is printed clockwise along the rim above, followed by the Gregorian date of minting, "1975". Engraved horizontally below the okapi, near the bottom of the reverse, is an additional representation of the coin's face value, a single numeral "5".

A total of approximately 12,165 examples of the coin were produced, including 5,734 uncirculated pieces and 6,431 proofs. Five hundred of the proofs were included in official proof sets, and an unspecified number of uncirculated coins were placed into mint sets. All of the pieces originally came in capsules with a certificate of authenticity, and examples in sets were additionally placed into red boxes.

Circulation coin (1987)[]

When the Democratic Republic of the Congo was renamed to the Republic of Zaire, the only coins used in the country were low denomination 10 sengi and 1, 5, 10, and 20 likuta pieces. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, high inflation had virtually rendered these coins obsolete, and consequently, they were discontinued. No coins would circulate in Zaire from then until 1987, when the production of 1 and 5 zaire coins was authorized by the nation's central bank. These two pieces were later joined by a similar 10 zaire coin in 1988. Hyperinflation over the next few years, however, resulted in the obsolescence of these coins as well.

The 5 zaire piece is composed of brass, weighs 6.9 grams, and measures 24 millimeters in diameter and 1.95 millimeters in thickness. It has coin alignment; a plain edge; and raised, undecorated rims, and is round in shape.

Featured in the center of the obverse is a facing illustration of Mobutu wearing an abacost and his iconic glasses and leopard-skin toque. Such an image, engraved by Roger Duterme, is similar to the president's likeness used on the 1982 and 1985 series of Zairean banknotes, as well as a portrait appearing on a commemorative medal from 1985. Printed in a clockwise direction along the coin's upper rim, above the image of Mobutu, is the face value "CINQ ZAIRES", and written in the opposite direction at the lower periphery is the Gregorian date of minting, "1987". The "I" in "ZAIRES" is not printed with a diaeresis. A large "5Z", abbreviated for 5 Zaires, is engraved in the center of the reverse, inside of a solid circular border. It is accompanied by the French title of the Bank of Zaire, "BANQUE DU ZAIRE", which is inscribed outside of the aforementioned border, along the rim of the piece. As with the value on the obverse, the diaeresis on the "I" is not included. The word "BANQUE" is shown at the top of the piece, arched in a clockwise direction, while the "DU ZAIRE" appears counterclockwise at the coin's lower boundary.

The total mintage of the piece is currently unknown. Only business strikes are reported to have been manufactured.


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Zairean zaire
Banknotes 1 NK5 NK10 K/NK20 K50 K/NK1 Z/NZ5 Z/NZ10 Z/NZ20 NZ50 Z/NZ100 Z/NZ200 NZ500 Z/NZ1,000 Z/NZ2,000 Z5,000 Z/NZ10,000 Z/NZ20,000 Z/NZ50,000 Z/NZ100,000 Z/NZ200,000 Z500,000 Z/NZ1,000,000 Z/NZ5,000,000 Z
Coins 10 s1 K5 K10 K20 K25 K50 K1 Z2½ Z5 Z10 Z20 Z50 Z100 Z500 NZ1,000 NZ5,000 NZ10,000 NZ
Miscellaneous Bank of ZaireCongolese francRoger DutermeLikutaMobutu Sese Seko on currencySengi