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Not to be confused with the Malawian 1 kwacha coin.
Zambia 1 kwacha 2012
2012 coin
General information

Flag of Zambia Zambia


1.00 kwacha



Measurements and composition
  • 28.4 g (1974)
  • 12.5 g (1989)
  • 3 g (1992)
  • 5 g (2012-present)
  • 39 mm (1974)
  • 26 mm (1989)
  • 19.2 mm (1992)
  • 24 mm (2012-present)
  • 3.5 mm (1989)
  • 1.73 mm (1992-present)
  • cupronickel (1974)
  • nickel-brass (1989)
  • brass (1992)
  • nickel-plated steel (2012-present)




  • reeded (1989, 2012-present)
  • plain (1992)
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The 1 kwacha coin is a circulation coin of the Republic of Zambia. Since 1974 it has been produced in four types. The first piece of the denomination, a non-circulating commemorative, was issued in 1974 in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Zambia's independence. It was followed over 15 years later, in 1989, by the first 1 kwacha circulation coin. A similar piece was then struck in 1992. As a result of high inflation in Zambia during the 1980s and 1990s, virtually all coinage, including the 1 kwacha piece, disappeared from circulation in the African country. Because of this, the 1 kwacha coin was withdrawn and never reintroduced under the first Zambian kwacha. However, with the rebasing of Zambia's currency in 2013, a new piece of the denomination (dated 2012) was introduced. It has been produced annually since.

All four types were distributed by the Bank of Zambia and produced at foreign mints. The first two coins were produced at the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom, the 1992 piece was struck at the Royal Canadian Mint, and the current coin has been manufactured at the South African Mint. The piece introduced in 2012 currently holds a legal tender face value equivalent to 1.00 kwacha, and continues to circulate in its country of origin. The earlier types remain legal tender as well, but carry a value of 1.00 old kwacha, the equivalent of only 0.001 new kwacha. Because their face value is much lower than their instrinsic and numismatic values, the earlier coins no longer circulate. As non-circulating legal tender, the 1974 type did not see any general circulation.


Coins of the first kwacha (1974–1992)[]

Independence commemorative (1974)[]

In response to social pressures in Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the early 1960s, the United Kingdom formally dissolved the southern African federation in 1963. As a result, on October 24, 1964, Parliament granted independence to the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, which had previously been a member of the federation. The newly sovereign nation was then renamed to the "Republic of Zambia". In commemoration of the decennial of Zambia's independence, in 1974 the Bank of Zambia authorized the production of a commemorative 1 kwacha piece.

The coin is composed of cupronickel and is about the size of a crown, measuring 28.4 grams in mass and 39 millimeters in diameter. It has medallic alignment and is round in shape. The rims of both sides of the piece are raised and undecorated.

A right-facing bust of Kenneth Kaunda, the President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991, is displayed in the center of the coin's obverse. Such a likeness, designed by English sculptor Norman Sillman (1921–2013), first appeared on a commemorative Zambian 5 shilling coin in 1965, and from then regularly appeared on Zambian coinage until 1989. Printed clockwise along the piece's upper rim, above Kaunda's image, is the state title "ZAMBIA". It is accompanied by the legend "24TH OCTOBER 1974", which is engraved in a counterclockwise direction from the obverse's lower left to lower right peripheries. This text represents the date of the decennial of Zambia's independence. While the year of minting, 1974, does appear on the coin, because it is part of a legend, the piece is considered non-dated. The reverse of the coin features the full coat of arms of Zambia – which consists of a central escutcheon decorated with wavy lines, supported by a man in Western attire and a woman in traditional clothing. Both are shown standing on a grassy compartment, on which some small buildings, a plains zebra (Equus quagga), and an ear of corn (Zea mays) are also displayed. Below the compartment is a scroll bearing the national motto "ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION", and above the escutcheon are a crossing pickaxe and hoe and an African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer). The full arms of Zambia was initially designed by Gabriel Ellison in 1964, but was first used on coins in 1965, on the aforementioned 5 shilling piece. Like the portrait of Kaunda on the obverse, the coat of arms on the coin was designed by Norman Sillman. The text "TENTH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY" is written along the rim of the reverse, extending clockwise from the lower left to lower right sides of the coin. The remainder of the periphery is occupied by the face value "ONE KWACHA", which is inscribed in a counterclockwise direction and flanked by two small circular points.

A total of approximately 5,500 examples of the coin were produced, including 4,000 uncirculated pieces and 1,500 proofs. An unknown number of coins were sold in black boxes bearing the words "BANK OF ZAMBIA" and the year "1974".

Circulation coins (1989–1992)[]

Zambia kwacha 1989

1989 coin

Zambia kwacha 1992

1992 coin

According to statistics published by the Bank of Zambia, Zambia experienced a 4,000 percent increase in consumer price index (CPI) from 1980 to 1990. As a result of this high inflation, the kwacha lost a significant amount of purchasing power, and consequently various low denomination coins and banknotes disappeared from circulation. In response, in 1989 the Bank of Zambia authorized the production of a 1 kwacha coin for circulation, and the phasing out of lower denomination paper money. This new coin would eventually come to replace the banknote of the same denomination that was already in use. A redesigned 1 kwacha piece was then introduced in 1992 alongside the first Zambian general circulation coins denominated at 25 and 50 ngwee, and 5 and 10 kwacha. Eventually, continued inflation caused these fell out of use as well, and coins would not be reintroduced to Zambia until nearly two decades later.

The 1989 and 1992 kwacha coins differ in composition, measurements, and obverse design. The earlier of the two is composed of nickel-brass, weighs 12.5 grams, and measures 26 millimeters in diameter and 3.5 millimeters in thickness. The latter is instead made of brass and is considerably smaller, with a mass of 3 grams, a diameter of 19.2 millimeters, and a thickness of 1.73 millimeters. Both pieces have medallic alignment and raised, undecorated rims, and are round in shape. Coins from 1989 bear a reeded edge, while 1992 examples have a plain edge.

On the obverse of both types, the state title "ZAMBIA" is written clockwise at the coin's upper rim, and the year of minting is engraved counterclockwise at the bottom periphery. The date on the 1989 coin is larger in proportion than on the 1992 piece, but the state title is slightly larger on the latter type than on the former. Sillman's likeness of President Kaunda appears between "ZAMBIA" and the year on pieces dated 1989, but 1992 coins, having been made after Kaunda's fall from power, instead show the coat of arms of Zambia in the former president's place. The reverse of both pieces features an illustration of two Taita falcons (Falco fasciinucha) perched on a branch and facing each other. A species of small African falcon, the Taita falcon is found in various countries, including Zambia. Displayed between the birds on the coin is the outline of a large numeral "1", identifying the face value. It is accompanied by the text "ONE KWACHA", which is printed on two lines below the illustration of the falcons.

A total of approximately 8,000,000 business strikes of the 1989 coin are known to exist. The mintage of the 1992 piece is currently unknown. According to the Bank of Zambia's website, some proof examples of the latter coin were produced and placed into sets. The remaining coins from 1992 were manufactured as business strikes.

Coin of the second kwacha (2012–present)[]

Zambia kwacha 2012 WCG

2012 coin

Zambia continued to experience high inflation rates into the 1990s and early 2000s, resulting in a continued weakening of Zambian currency. In response to this issue, the Board of the Bank of Zambia recommended rebasing the Zambian kwacha in 2012, when inflation rates were deemed stable. The Zambian government approved this initiative on January 23 of the same year, and by July production began for a new series of coins (dated 2012) in denominations of 5, 10, and 50 ngwee, and 1 kwacha. Alongside new banknotes, the pieces were unveiled by Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda (1938–) and Bank of Zambia Governor Michael Gondwe at a ceremony on December 31, 2012, and then issued as planned on the following day, January 1, 2013. Of the coins, the 1 kwacha piece has been struck annually since 2012.

The piece is composed of nickel-plated steel and measures 5 grams in mass, 24 millimeters in diameter, and 1.73 millimeters in thickness. It has medallic alignment; raised, undecorated rims; and a reeded edge. Like most coins, it is round in shape.

The coat of arms of Zambia is displayed in the center of the obverse, with the state title "ZAMBIA" inscribed clockwise along rim above, and the Gregorian date of minting printed counterclockwise at the periphery below. Featured at the left side of the reverse is a depiction of a left-facing Zambian barbet (Lybius chaplini) on a branch. Such an animal, also known as the Chaplin's barbet, is a small bird endemic to the Kalomo District of Zambia. "K1", an abbreviation for 1 kwacha, is printed to the left of the barbet, with the "K" shown at a higher position on the coin than the following numeral. It is accompanied by the written out value, "ONE KWACHA", which extends clockwise from the piece's bottom rim to the right side of the reverse.

The total mintage of the coin is currently unknown. Only business strikes are known to exist.


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Zambian kwacha
Banknotes Current: 2 K5 K10 K20 K50 K100 K
Former: 50 n1 K • 2 K • 5 K • 10 K • 20 K • 50 K • 100 K • 500 K1,000 K5,000 K10,000 K20,000 K50,000 K
Coins Current: 5 n10 n50 n1 K
Former: 1 n2 n • 5 n • 10 n • 20 n25 n • 50 n • 1 K • 5 K10 K20 K75 K100 K200 K250 K500 K1,000 K2,000 K2,500 K4,000 K5,000 K10,000 K20,000 K25,000 K40,000 K50,000 K100,000 K500,000 K
Miscellaneous Bank of ZambiaDe La RueKwachaNgweeRebasingZambian pound