The Banknotes of Somalia – Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Peter Symes

This is a study of the banknotes issued in Somalia from colonial times to the fractured period after 1991. Principally, this study describes the banknotes and provides as much of the historical background to the issue of the banknotes as is possible. Records on the issue of currency in Somalia, in its various forms, is not plentiful. However, sufficient detail has been located to tell of the ordinary and extraordinary facts surrounding the various issues. The history of Somalia and its note issuing authorities is not simple, therefore it is wise to know a little of Somalia’s history prior to describing the banknote issues.

A Short History

Somali people have inhabited the Horn of Africa for thousands of years and the areas of their occupation, with several exceptions, is today known as Somalia. Despite the great length of time in which the Somali people have inhabited the Horn of Africa, there have been significant migratory patterns that have displaced and rearranged the clan structures within the area. Prior to the modern era, Somalia had a history of rule by various Somali clans, although there were times when other powers pressed their influence. The Ethiopians and Egyptians at time held sway in areas of Somalia and the Sultans of Muscat and Zanzibar also held significant control of the coastal ports for many years. Ultimately, European influence exerted itself in this region, with the two dominant powers being Great Britain and Italy.

            The British government’s first interest in Somalia was the Somali coast opposite Aden. The colony of Aden had been acquired in 1839 and, following the opening of the Suez canal in 1869, Aden became Britain’s principal entrepôt between Europe and the Far East. Although Aden was attractive for its port facilities, it lacked a reliable meat supply. Therefore, trade was established with the coastal tribes of Somalia to provide meat and, ultimately, in 1887 Britain formalized its influence in this area by creating the Somaliland Protectorate. The creation of the protectorate not only secured a supply of food for Aden, it also thwarted the aspirations of the Egyptians and the French who had shown interest in the region.

            A British trading company, the British East Africa Company, had earlier established agreements with Somali people on the eastern coast of Somalia in 1827. Later, Italian influence resulted in numerous spheres of influence being established along the Benadir Coast. The Italians took over concessions from the British East Africa Company and leased ports through the Sultan of Zanzibar. Over time their influence was consolidated and finally Italian Somaliland became an Italian colony in 1905.

            Italian Somaliland came under British control during World War II, but in 1950 it was handed back to the Italians as a Untied Nations Trust Territory. Under the arrangements by which Italy ran the Trust Territory, the former colony was to become independent in ten years. In July 1960 not only did the Trust Territory become independent, it was unified with British Somaliland, which had become independent only days earlier.

            This unification was seen by many as the first stage of a completely unified Somali nation. Most African nations are an amalgamation of a number of tribal and ethnic mixes. This occurs primarily because the boundaries of each nation are based on former spheres of influence of European colonial powers, rather than on tribal allegiances and racial mixes. Somalia is distinct in that only Somalis live in Somalia. However, prior to independence, the entire Somali people lived in five different areas: Italian Somaliland, British Somaliland, Djibouti (known at times as French Somaliland or Afars and Issas), Ogaden (a region of Ethiopia), and the Northern Frontier District of Kenya. A significant Somali emblem is a five-pointed star that appears on the Somali flag. The five-pointed star is the symbol of unity for Somalis from all five areas in which Somalis were divided and it was the aim of many Somalis that, one day, all Somalis would be united as one nation.

            Independent Somalia’s future as a democratic nation was unsteady for some years, although much progress was achieved by the fledgling nation. In 1969 the army took control through a coup led by Major General Siad Barre. The country was then led by the Somali Revolutionary Council, of which Siad Barre was the chairman, and the council duly elected Siad Barre as President. Introducing ‘Scientific Socialism’, the country adopted a socialist platform and stumbled forward.

            Following the overthrow of Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie in 1974, a number of Somali opposition political parties, that were agitating for the reclamation of the Ogaden from Ethiopia, became more active. After Djibouti became independent from France in June 1977, the nationalist elements in Somalia launched attacks on Ethiopia and thus commenced a war for the Ogaden. The war was fought by elements not directly associated with the Somali government, but the government gave support to the insurgents. Ultimately the war was lost, as Somalia had gained no friends in the international community; indeed they lost the significant support of the Soviet Union which transferred their patronage to Ethiopia.

            Failure to win the Ogaden war led to the splintering of support for Siad Barre and, over the next ten years, backing for the president in a number of regions was corroded by clan-based political parties. Despite reconciliation between the Somali and Ethiopian governments, the internal status of Somalia was growing grim. The clans that Siad Barre supported during the Ogaden war now turned against him and ultimately forced him to flee Mogadishu in 1991.

            Following the fall of Siad Barre, Somalia fell into a maelstrom of struggles for influence, both political and economic. No single clan or group of clans could gain control and attempts by the United Nations to intervene during the 1990s proved fruitless. A civil war based around Mogadishu saw thousands die and tens of thousands of Somalis flee the country and seek refuge overseas. The former British Protectorate broke away and established itself as a separate country called ‘Somaliland’, but it has not been recognized by any country. A number of other administrations have established themselves within Somalia, notably the administration in Puntland, but they have not declared themselves as a state separate from Somalia.

            Although the civil strife that wracked the country in the early 1990s has dissipated, and while there have been numerous attempts to bring the factions of the country together, no initiatives have yet seen the likely re-establishment of Somalia as a sovereign nation. However, efforts are continuing with the aim of uniting Somalia as a single entity or as a federation. Perhaps, in time, it will find stability and regain nationhood.

The Currency of Somalia Prior to Independence

Early Currency in Somalia

Prior to the arrival of European traders, most trade in the interior of Somalia was by barter or by the use of Maria Theresa thalers. On the coast, the influence of the Sultans of Muscat and Zanzibar had seen the Indian silver rupee become the dominant unit of currency. However, baisa bronze coins of Muscat, Mombasa and Zanzibar also circulated. These later coins were necessary because of the high value of the rupee and the requirement for coins of smaller value to complement the rupee.

            The first known currency specific to Italian Somaliland was an 1893 issue of 5 rupees by ‘V. Filonardi & Company’. In 1889, Vincenzo Filonardi, the Italian Consul at Zanzibar, concluded treaties with the Majerteyn Sultans of Obbia and Aula in favour of the Italian government and later acquired control of other ports by sub-letting them from the Imperial British East Africa Company or renting them from the Sultan of Zanzibar. The last agreement was signed in 1892, but by this time Filonardi had forgone his consul’s post to establish his own trading company. Having arranged the various treaties and acquisitions for the Italian government, the government had entrusted their holdings on the Benadir coast to Filonadi, who opened his first establishment at Adale (Itala) in 1891. However, trade from Somalia was not enough to support the former consul’s enterprise and V. Filonadi & Company was wound up in 1896. From this point, the Italian government ran their possessions through Italian Residents at four ports on the coast.

            The notes issued by V. Filonardi & Company carried the following text: V. Filonardi & C. Buono per Rupie Cinque pagabili al portatore. Itala 15 luglio 1893; i.e. ‘V. Filonardi and Company, Good for five rupees, payable to the bearer. Itala (Adale) 15 July 1893’. Above the signature of Vincenzo Filonardi are the words Il gerente (The Manager). The text was repeated on the back of the note in Arabic. To the left of the note is a blind stamp which embosses text in Latin and Arabic characters. The notes were printed by Litografica Salomone – Roma. It is believed that Filonardi & Company issued only the 5-rupee note.

            The notes of V. Filonardi & Company were promissory notes that were never meant to replace the currencies circulating in Italian Somaliland. The Maria Theresa thaler, the Indian rupee, and smaller baisa coins continued to circulate during and after the Filonardi issue. However, due to a shortage in small coins, in April 1905 the Italian government introduced one centesimo coins (at a rate of 150 to the Maria Theresa thaler) and, from May 1905, 25-centesimi coins were introduced. However, this measure did not prove successful and neither was an attempt to introduce Italian baisa coins in denominations of 1, 2 and 4 baisa under a decree dated 29 January 1909. Ultimately, on 8 December 1909 the Italian silver rupee was introduced, being available in one-, half- and quarter-rupee coins.

Bank of Italy Cash Certificates

While successful as a coin, problems arose when the silver content of the Italian silver rupees became more valuable than the coins themselves. This led to a drain of coins from the Italian colony. Under Decree No.600 of 13 May 1920 the Bank of Italy began issuing cash certificates (buoni di cassa) in Italian rupees. The cash certificates were given the status of legal tender and could pay any debt with the Italian government. According to the decree authorizing their issue, certificates in the denominations of one, five, ten, twenty and fifty rupees were to be issued, but as it transpired, only one-, five- and ten-rupee certificates were issued. The certificates were to be fully convertible, but by the time that they were introduced, the convertibility was suspended. The certificates were a resounding success and anecdotal evidence suggests they were preferred to silver coin. Although up to two million rupees were allowed to be issued in cash certificates, the amount in circulation never exceed one and a half million rupees, which was reached in 1924.

            The three certificates, or notes, issued by the Bank of Italy have common text, differing only for the value of the certificates. The text is:

Banca D’Italia

Somalia Italiana

Buono di Cassa


Emessa Contro Deposito Corrispondente di Valute de Argento Esistenti Nelle Casse Della Banca

This text can be translated as:

Bank of Italy

Italian Somalia

Cash certificate


Issued against a deposit corresponding to a value of silver held in the vault of the Bank

The certificates are signed by ‘Stringher’, as the Director General (Il Direttore Generale) and ‘Sacchi’ as the Cashier (Il Cassiere). The back of each note has Arabic text that is similar to the Italian text on the front of the notes, while in a panel at the bottom on the back is the decree under which the notes were issued. This reads (in Italian):

Reggio Decreto 13 Maggio 1920 N.600.

The design of each note is distinct, but each note has its design created with engine work and filigree patterns. Details of the individual notes are:

1 Rupee

            Size:            110 x 65 mm

            Colours:       Red and crimson

            Watermark: ‘1 Rupia’

5 Rupees

            Size:            142 x 90 mm

            Colours:       Brown and beige

            Watermark: The head of the goddess Minerva

10 Rupees

            Size:            160 x 98 mm

            Colours:       Maroon and brown

            Watermark: The head of the god Mercury

            Such was the success of the cash certificates, that the Italian government decided to introduce the Italian lira into the colony. Decree No.1143 of 18 June 1925 authorized the introduction of the lira as legal tender, replacing the Italian rupee. (However, the Indian rupee continued to circulate as non-legal tender.) In order to introduce the lira, a period of exchange commenced on 1 July 1925 and ended on 30 June 1926. During this period, the Bank of Italy at Mogadishu exchanged the rupees for lire at a rate of eight lire per rupee. The lira proved to be an acceptable and reliable currency for the colony, but there developed an opinion in Italy, that it might be wiser to have a separate currency for its colonies (including Eritrea), which would be linked to the lira, rather than allowing the Italian lira to circulate in its colonies.

The Italian East African Issues

In 1936 Italy set up the administrative area of Africa Orientale Italiana (Italian East Africa), which consisted of Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia (invaded in 1935) and Eritrea (an Italian colony since 1890). From 1938 a new currency was issued by the Bank of Italy for ‘Italian East Africa’, which consisted of notes denominated in 50, 100, 500 and 1000 lire. These notes were similar to the notes then circulating in Italy, but their colours were modified and they had two red overprints. In the top margin of the notes was written:

Serie Speciale Africa Orientale Italiana

which translates as:

Special Series for Italian East Africa

and in the bottom margin was the following text:

È Vietata la Circolazione Fuori dei Territori dell’Africa Orientale Italiana

which translates as:

It is prohibited to circulate outside the territory of Italian East Africa.

            It is understood, but not confirmed, that the notes prepared for Italian East Africa were placed into circulation in late 1938 by an authorization dated 12 September 1938. A further authorization dated 14 January 1939 is believed to have placed further notes into circulation. It is understood that the number of notes authorized for each issue was as follows.


50 lire

100 lire

500 lire

1000 lire

12 September 1938





14 January 1939





(Only 2,970,000 of the 50-lire notes of the 1939 issue were actually produced, even though an even three million notes were ordered.)

            Prior to the British occupation of Italian East Africa in May 1942, all notes prepared for Italian East Africa were repatriated and stored in the vaults of the Bank of Italy in Rome. When a shortage of currency occurred in Italy later that year, it was decided to release the Italian East African notes into circulation. This commenced on 26 November 1942.

The East African Shilling

In the Somaliland Protectorate, the Indian rupee, which circulated prior to the arrival of the British, continued to circulate after the British took control. Ultimately the Indian rupee became the official currency and was declared legal tender in the protectorate. Following the creation of the East African Currency Board in 1919, the East African shilling began to circulate in the Protectorate and some years later ‘Somaliland Ordinance No. 25 of 1937’ empowered ‘the Governor [of Somaliland] by proclamation to “admit” East African Currency’ into Somaliland. While the Indian Rupee remained the principal currency, and official currency for accounting purposes, the shilling of the East African Currency Board was given official circulating status under the ordinance. For many years both currencies circulated in apparent harmony.

            Following the outbreak of World War II and the capture of Mogadishu by Lieutenant General Cunningham on 26 February 1941, there was an unprecedented demand in the former Italian colony for currency issued by the East African Currency Board. In the initial period of occupation, Italian lire circulated freely alongside East African shillings, although a permit from the British military authorities was required for payments in lire for debts valued at forty East African shillings or more. Proclamations Nos.3 & 4 of the British Military Administration, dated 2 and 21 March respectively, allowed for numerous currencies to circulate in Italian Somalia; these being the East African shilling, the Indian rupee, the Egyptian pound and the Maria Therese thaler. Under Order No.1 of 24 March 1941, the exchange rates were set at the following:

                                20 East African Shillings  =      480 Lire

                                492 Lire                      =    1 Egyptian pound

                                1 Indian rupee             =    36 Lire

                                1 Maria Therese thaler      =      45 Lire

                                11 Maria Therese thalers   =      1 Egyptian pound

                                1.50 Indian rupees      =    1 East African shilling

Under the British military administration, all accounts were kept in East African shillings and thus the shilling became the default currency for the occupied territory. Proclamation No.20 of 1 July 1942 allowed people to use Italian lire to pay for any debt, so long as payment was in coins and notes that did not exceed 50 lire. Similarly Egyptian pounds and Maria Therese thalers were accepted for official payments. The exchange rate for such transactions was 24 lire to the East African shilling, one Egyptian pound to twenty East African shillings, and one Maria Therese thaler to 1.87½ East African shillings. Where debts were incurred in East Afican shillings, only that currency could be used to pay for that debt, whereas debts incurred by other currencies could be paid by that currency or in East African shillings. The proclamation specifically excluded the use of the lira issued by Italian East Africa as valid currency for the payment of debts. Through these regulations, the East African shilling became the dominant currency in the occupied territory.

The Somalo and the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia

After World War II the United Nations placed former Italian Somaliland under the administration of an Italian Trusteeship. While officially titled the ‘United Nations Trust Territory of Somalia’ the area continued to be referred to as ‘Italian Somaliland’. The United Nations approved passing control of the Trust Territory to Italy in November 1949 and on 27 January 1950, Italy was given financial administration of the Territory. As early as 1948 Italy had been considering the options for currencies in Somalia, in anticipation that the territory would be returned to its control. After rejecting the idea of re-introducing the Italian lira, or a currency linked to the lira, it was decided to introduce a new currency. The new currency was denominated the ‘somalo’ and it was authorized by the Trusteeship Administration’s Ordinance No.14 of 16 May 1950. The somalo was valued at 0.124414 grammes of fine gold and was, significantly, the same value as the East African shilling. By making the somalo equivalent to the East African shilling, it was anticipated that the transition to the new currency would be as painless as possible.

            In adopting the value of the East African shilling, it was also decided to utilize the same denominations in which the East African shillings were issued, although not all denominations issued by the East African Currency Board were adopted for the new currency. Notes were prepared in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 100 somali. (‘somali’ being the plural of ‘somalo’.) Coins were prepared in denominations of 1 somalo, 50, 10, 5 and 1 centesimi. The designs for the notes and coins were detailed in Ordinances No.15 of 18 May 1950 and No.44 of 22 July 1950.

            The 1-somalo note of this issue is an enigma for two reasons. Firstly, the denomination is written as ‘1 somali’ on the front of the note, whereas it should have read ‘1 somalo’. In fact, the denomination is expressed as ‘1 somalo’ on the back of the note and the coin issued for the same value is denominated as ‘1 somalo’. This suggests that the use of the word ‘somali’ on the front of this note was a mistake. Secondly, this note is a mystery because it was never placed into circulation. Evidently, the coin of the same value was declared to be preferable to the note, but one can’t help wondering if the reason for non-issue may have been linked to the incorrect value written on the note. According to records Endnote issued after the redemption of this series of notes, only two hundred and twenty five of the ‘1-somali’ notes were outstanding. It appears likely that these were distributed as souvenirs at the time of issue, or provided as samples to various authorities. Official presentation folders that included all notes in this series, including the ‘1-somali’ note, were prepared and it is likely that most of the outstanding 1-somali notes were placed in these folders.

            Shortly after the release of the notes prepared for the Trusteeship, a new 5-somali note was introduced. Decree No.7 of 22 March 1951 detailed the design of the second 5-somali note and Decree No.61 of 22 May 1951 authorized the introduction of the new note. The original 5-somali note did not prove popular when first introduced and, in fact, fewer notes than the authorized issue were printed. In addition, the 5-somali notes were the most widely used notes in circulation and were subject to significant wear and tear. This led to the need to replace these note more often than the higher denomination notes and more notes could be produced when a smaller sized format was adopted. The choice of a smaller sized note may also have been due to the similarity of the first 5-somali note to the 10- and 20-somali notes. When the second 5-somali note was introduced it used a similar design to the unissued ‘1-somali’ note. (The decision to introduce a reduced-size note may also have been influenced by the non-issue of the ‘1-somali’ note.) Both types of 5-somali note circulated for the next ten years without any attempt to withdraw the first variety of the note.

            All notes issued by the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia were printed by the Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato. Officana Carte Valori-Roma (i.e. the State Printing Office. Banknote Works Rome) and their imprint I.P.S. Off. Carte-Valori-Roma appears in the bottom margin of each note. The notes were prepared in three different designs. The first design (Type 1) was used for the ‘1-somali’ note and the second 5-somali note, while the second design (Type 2) was used for the first 5-somali note and the 10- and 20-somali notes, and.the 100-somali note had its own design (Type 3). Details of each design are as follows:

Type 1 (‘1 somali’ and the second 5 somali)

            Size:                 126 x 73 mm

            Front of the note:        The head of a leopard is in the centre of the note, with the watermark in a panel to the right and the denomination of the note written in Arabic and Latin text in a panel to the left, which also contains the signatures. (The head of the leopard carries the imprint ‘Canforini Inc’.) Above the title of the issuing authority, in a panel at the lower centre, is the Somali star and two crescent moons.

            Back of the note:        A classically designed panel contains the value of the note with the appropriate numeral being repeated in Arabic and western numerals. At the left is the area for viewing the watermark and at the right is written ‘1950 Roma’ in Arabic and Latin text. The series and serial numbers are repeated twice in the corners of the note.

            Watermark:      The head of a leopard.

            1 Somalo

            Colours:           Brown and beige.

            Signatories:      Spinelli as the President (Il Presidente) and Giannini as the Controller (Il Controllore)

            5 Somali (second issue)

            Colours:           Maroon and grey

            Signatories:      Ciancimino as the President (Il Presidente) and Giannini as the Controller (Il Controllore)

Type 2 (The first 5 somali, the 10 somali and the 20 somali)

            Size:                 158 x 98 mm

            Front of the note:        To either side of the note are ornamental panels containing designs representing a Somali fireplace, surmounted by the Somali star and two crescent moons. In the centre of the note is the panel for the watermark and to either side of the panel is written the denomination of the note in Arabic and Latin text and the signatures. The name of the issuing authority is in a panel at the top centre.

            Back of the note:        An ornate design based on classic Roman elements has the watermark in its centre, the word ‘Somali’ above the watermark and the denomination in western numerals at the far left and right. At the bottom of the note is written ‘1950 Roma’ in Arabic and Latin text. The series and serial numbers are repeated twice in the corners of the note.

            Watermark:      The head of an elephant.

            5 Somali (first issue)

            Colours:           Blue and green.

            Signatories:      Spinelli as the President (Il Presidente) and Giannini as the Controller (Il Controllore)

            10 Somali

            Colours:           Dark and light green

            Signatories:      (1) Spinelli as the President (Il Presidente) and Giannini as the Controller (Il Controllore)

(2) Ciancimino as the President and Giannini as the Controller

(3) Ciancimino as the President and Inserra as the Controller

            20 Somali

            Colours:           Brown and beige

            Signatories:      (1) Spinelli as the President (Il Presidente) and Giannini as the Controller (Il Controllore)

(2) Ciancimino as the President and Giannini as the Controller

(3) Ciancimino as the President and Inserra as the Controller

Type 3 (100 somali)

            Size:                 165 x 100 mm

            Colours:           Dark brown, light brown and beige

            Front of the note:        There are two identical panels at the left and right, with classical ornamentation. The panel at the left contains an illustration of the head of a lion in its centre, while the corresponding panel to the right contains the watermark. The centre of the note is divided horizontally into three parts. The top panel contains the word ‘Somali’ in Arabic, the bottom panel contains the same word in Latin script, and the central panel contains the name of the issuing authority and the signatures.

            Back of the note:        Against a fine ornamental background, which vacates an area at the left for viewing the watermark, is a frame constructed with classic Roman elements. In a cartouche at the top of the frame is the word ‘Somali’ and to either side, in the corners of the frame, is written the number ‘100’ in western and Arabic numerals. In the centre of the frame is the Palazzo del Governo of Somalia. At the bottom of the note is written ‘1950 Roma’ in Arabic and Latin text. The series and serial numbers are repeated twice in the corners of the note.

            Watermark:      The head of a lion.

            Signatories:      (1) Spinelli as the President (Il Presidente) and Giannini as the Controller (Il Controllore)

(2) Ciancimino as the President and Giannini as the Controller

While each note in this series has its own watermark, there is a common watermark that covers the paper for each denomination. The common watermark consists of wavy lines between which is repeated the word ‘SOMALO’.

            The number of notes to be prepared for the initial issue was fixed by Ordinance No.16 of 16 May 1950. The following chart shows the authorized issue for the initial release, the actual amount issued, the total issued over the period in which they circulated, and the amounts outstanding in May 1963. The amounts are expressed in somali (and not the total number of notes).


Authorized for issue in 1950

Printed in 1950

Total produced

Withdrawn and Destroyed by 31 May 1963

In reserve on

31 May 1963

In circulation on 31 May 1963






















5 (1st type)







5 (2nd type)


















Table 1. Somali banknotes issued, produced, destroyed and outstanding as at 31 May 1963. Endnote

            The issue of the somalo notes was supervised by the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia, in essence a currency board, which came into existence on 18 April 1950. The authority was based in Rome and was under joint control of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Treasury. However, the authority was established in the form of a company limited by shares. The paid up capital of the authority was 87.5 million lire and this was issued in one thousand shares of 87,500 lire each. The Ministry for Italian Africa held 995 shares and the Societá Finanziamenti Esteri (Foreign Financing Company) held 5 shares.

            The Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia was responsible for controlling the backing for, and issue of, the notes and coins issued in Somalia. The notes were fully backed by foreign currency, funds available at sight or short notice in foreign banks, and foreign Treasury bills maturing in less than one year. Although a legal entity in its own right, the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia did not partake in the day-to-day activities of the issue of currency. While a controller was appointed in Mogadishu, to supervise the activities of the board in Somalia and to provide a signature for the notes, the management of the authority was taken over at an early stage, i.e. on 9 May 1950, by the Bank of Italy. Thus the ‘Banking Department’ of the monetary authority was run by the Mogadishu branch of the Bank of Italy.

            The introduction of the somalo to Somalia commenced on 22 May 1950. Ordinance No.17 of 18 May 1950 authorized the Bank of Italy to supervise the introduction of the new currency and to exchange it with the old currency. The exchange in Mogadishu took place through the auspices of the three Italian Banks – the Bank of Italy, the Banco di Roma and the Banco di Napoli. Six mobile offices—in the Commissariats of Benadir, Lower Juba, Upper Juba, Lower Webi Shebeli, Mudugh and Migiurtinia—undertook the exchange in areas outside Mogadishu. The exchange took place from 22 May to 22 July 1950, but by July it was deemed necessary to extend the ability to exchange currency at the Bank of Italy in Mogadishu by one month. It was intended that the somalo was to become the only legal tender in the Trust Territory after the period of exchange, on 23 July 1950, but the date was amended to 22 August Endnote to coincide with the extended period of exchange in Mogadishu. The total amount of the new currency issued at the end of the exchange period was 17,635,112.10 somali and it was exchanged for 17,454,641.24 East African shillings and 15,791,892.30 Italian lire. (Of the East African shillings accounted for in the exchange, some five million had been held by the Bank of Italy in Mogadishu and had not been in circulation.)

            The notes issued by the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia circulated for ten years, to the end of Italian control of the Trust Territory. Apart from the initial change to the 5-somali note and some changes in signatories, there were no further changes to the notes during the period they were issued. Following independence on 1 July 1960, these notes continued to circulate under the authority of the National Bank of Somalia.

            As the Italian Trusteeship of Somalia neared its end, a decision was taken to convert the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia into a central bank, as it was deemed that such an entity would be needed by independent Somalia. Consequently, the President of the Italian Republic’s Decree No.1131 of 2 December 1958 authorized the changes necessary to convert the authority to a central bank. A Directorate General of the Cassa per la Circolazione Monetaria della Somalia was established at Mogadishu on 6 April 1959 and an office was established to take over the responsibilities previously undertaken by the Bank of Italy.

            The United Nations Trust Territory of Somalia became independent on 1 July 1960. However, prior to independence, the protectorate of British Somaliland and the Trust Territory of Somalia had agreed to unify as one nation. To enable this to occur, British Somaliland became independent on 26 June 1960. So, on the day that the Trust Territory of Somaliland achieved its independence, the unification of Somalia was accomplished.

This article was completed in December 2005
© Peter Symes

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