The Ukrainian hryvnia celebrates its 26th birthday on 2 September 2022. Over a quarter of a century ago, Ukraine launched monetary reform, introducing its own national monetary unit.
"The hryvnia is not only Ukraine’s monetary unit but also a symbol of its statehood. Together with other national symbols – the coat of arms, the anthem, and the flag – Ukraine’s own currency is one of the basic attributes of an independent state. These attributes present the country to the world and provide a rich source of knowledge about its history, culture, and traditions. Hryvnia coins and banknotes feature the symbols and elements of Ukrainian culture, portraits of prominent Ukrainian historical, academic, and cultural figures who fought for Ukraine’s independence," said NBU Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko.
From 2 through 16 September 1996, Ukrainian karbovanets were exchanged for hryvnias (at a rate of 100,000 to 1 hryvnia). During that period, both hryvnias and Ukrainian karbovanets circulated in parallel. On 17 September 1996, the hryvnia became the sole legal tender throughout Ukraine.
Thus, in just two weeks the Ukrainian hryvnia reached every city, town, and village, company, plant, factory, shop and cafe, and every household of Ukraine.
338.1 trillion Ukrainian karbovanets were in circulation when the monetary unit was being replaced by the hryvnia. During the transition to the hryvnia currency, the NBU withdrew 97% of previously issued karbovanets (327.9 trillion karbovanets).
As of 1 September 2022, Ukraine has a total of UAH 688 billion in cash, including UAH 682.7 billion in 2.9 billion of banknotes and UAH 5.3 billion in 14.1 billion of coins. This means that Ukraine has 72 banknotes and 166 small-denomination and circulation coins per capita.
At the dawn of its independence, Ukraine had no money production facilities of its own. Hence, the first hryvnia banknotes were commissioned and produced abroad (in Canada and the United Kingdom). Currently, the hryvnia banknotes and coins are entirely produced by the NBU’s modern and powerful Banknote Printing and Minting Works. Not every country in the world can boast its own minting facilities.
Hryvnia banknotes have significantly changed over the last 26 years, as the NBU has constantly been working to update it. The NBU attaches great importance to the security and quality of the hryvnias in circulation. Ukrainians must be certain that the cash they receive at retailers, bank cash desks or bank ATMs is fit for commerce and circulation. Therefore, both new banknotes with an updated design and security features
and new denominations that did not exist back in 1996 were issued in circulation over the modern history of the Ukrainian hryvnia. The 200-hryvnia banknote was first introduced by the NBU in 2001, while the 500 and 1,000 hryvnia banknotes followed later – in 2006 and 2019 respectively.
Today, Ukraine already has the fourth generation of hryvnias in circulation. It is notable for its updated design and enhanced security features, in particular the optically variable elements, that make the visual inspection by people more convenient and easy.
"The Ukrainian hryvnia is a modern currency that has its rightful place among other national currencies of the world. Due to the war, the Ukrainian hryvnia, just as Ukraine on the whole and every Ukrainian in particular, is facing new serious challenges. However, despite all difficulties, the NBU is safeguarding financial stability, standing ready to do everything in its power to control the situation on the financial front," said NBU Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko.
Ukraine expressed its aspirations to have its own currency in the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine in 1990.
In line with the Act of the Declaration of Ukraine’s Independence, the presidium of the Ukrainian parliament adopted the Resolution On the Approval of the Name and Characteristics of the Ukrainian Currency (10 March 1991) and Resolution On Ukrainian Low-Denomination Coins (2 March 1992) that declared the Ukrainian hryvnia a monetary unit of Ukraine and established the kopiika as the 100th part of the hryvnia.
On 25 August 1996, the president issued a Decree On the currency reform in Ukraine. According to the Decree, 1, 2, 5,10, 20, 50 and 100 hryvnia banknotes and small-denomination 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kopiika coins were issued into circulation on 2 September 1996.