WHAT IS 'BTN (Bhutanese Ngultrum)'

BTN is the symbol for the Bhutanese Ngultrum, the official currency of the Kingdom of Bhutan, an isolated, mountainous nation in central Asia. Its name is a combination of the word Ngul, meaning "silver” in the traditional Bhutanese Dzongkha language, and trum, a Hindi loan word meaning “money.” It can be divided into 100 chetrum. It is abbreviated as Nu.

BREAKING DOWN 'BTN (Bhutanese Ngultrum)'

BTN, the Bhutanese ngultrum, was introduced in 1974. Until 1789, the most commonly used currency in Bhutan consisted of coins manufactured at the Cooch Behar mint in West Bengal, India. After the occupation of the mint by the British colonial armies, Bhutan began to issue its own currency, initially copper and silver coins called chetrum. These were manufactured in the traditional way, by blacksmiths operating with hammers and dies. Thanks to the remote nation’s isolation from industrialization, it was not until 1929 that Bhutan began to issue modern coins. After a period of modernization and economic reform, in 1968 the Bank of Bhutan was created, and in 1974 the Ngultrum was introduced, at the rate of one ngultrum per hundred chetrum, which was pegged at parity with the Indian rupee, a distinction which it holds to this day.

Modern Use

The ngultrum is minted within Bhutan by the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan. As the Kingdom of Bhutan is a smaller nation without major exports, the country has pegged its currency value to that of the Indian rupee. This has been a commonality since 1974 when new financial reform took place within the Kingdom of Bhutan. The exact exchange rate does vary slightly yet remains connected to the Indian rupee. Currently, 1 Bhutanese ngultrum is equal to 1 Indian rupee.

Anything under Nu. 1 comes in coin form. All paper denominations include the Nu.1, Nu. 5, Nu. 10, Nu. 20, Nu. 50, Nu.100 and the Nu. 500. As the value of the bill increases so too does the size, although the Nu. 500 is slightly smaller than the Nu. 100. However, the 500 Ngultrum bill is not commonly circulated. There is also a recently released Nu. 1,000 bill, although much like the Nu. 500 this is rarely used in day-to-day life.

As tourism is one of Bhutan’s most important industries, many foreign currencies are accepted in lieu of the local official currency. However, many travelers realize too late that because of the limited acceptance and relatively recent adoption of the ngultrum, there is virtually no chance of being able to exchange any extra ngultrum in the tourists’ country of origin.

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