What Is the Somali Shilling (SOS)?

SOS is the currency abbreviation or currency symbol for the Somali shilling, the currency for Somalia. The Somali shilling is issued and managed by the Central Bank of Somalia. The Somali shilling comes in the following bills: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 shillings. It also comes in the following coins: 1, 5, 10, and 50 senti, as well as 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 shillings.

Key Takeaways

  • The Somali shilling (SOS) is the currency of the country of Somalia.
  • Issued and managed by the Central Bank of Somalia, the Somali shilling comes in banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 shillings and coins of 1, 5, 10, and 50 senti, as well as 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 shillings.
  • Civil war and political unrest have led to wild fluctuations or volatility in the SOS exchange rate over its history. The currency is considered to be one of the world's worst currencies.
  • The country has recently witnessed stability and is on a path of recovery and growth.

Understanding the Somali Shilling (SOS)

Somalia is located in Northeast Africa, and the SOS has been used as currency in Somalia since 1921. From the 1880s until 1942, Italian Somalia was a colony under Italian control. Between 1950 and 1962, the somalo was used as its currency. Other parts of Somalia used the East African shilling. In 1962, the somalo and East African shilling were replaced at par by the Somali shilling, making it the official currency of Somalia.

The currency is administered by the Central Bank of Somalia, which was established in 1960. The bank's objectives are "of fostering monetary stability, maintaining the internal and external value of the Somali shilling, and promoting credit and exchange conditions conducive to the balanced growth of the economy of the Republic, and within the limits of its power, it shall contribute to the financial and economic policies of the State."

Civil war and political unrest have led to wild fluctuations or volatility in the SOS exchange rate over its history. Since the early 2000s, the SOS exchange rate has fluctuated between 550 SOS to one USD to over 3,000 SOS to one USD. For example, if you were converting $1,000 to SOS at a rate of 550, you would receive 550,000 Somali shillings.

Worth of the Somali Shilling (SOS)

The estimated monthly living costs without rent for a family of four in Somalia are 906,683 SOS. Similarly, a single person's living costs without rent are 263,298 SOS. The cost of living in Somalia is on average 51% less than in the U.S. One gallon of milk costs 2,857 SOS and a loaf of bread costs 325 SOS.

The average salary of a working person in Somalia is 259,000 SOS per month and the salaries range from 65,600 SOS to 1,160,000 S0S (lowest and highest average). Fifty percent of employees in the country earn 244,000 SOS or less.

An Economy Hit Hard by War and Unrest

Although Somalia is an independent nation today, it has been under duress from war and civil unrest, particularly in the 1990s. The economy was hit hard as a result of this time in the nation's history and it took its toll on the currency. Today, the Somali shilling has one of the steepest exchange rates in the world versus the U.S. dollar and is considered to be one of the world's worst currencies.

In terms of the local economy, Somalia is dependent on agriculture and manufacturing, with products such as maize, bananas, sugar, and seafood accounting for a large amount of income. The farming industry is also big, with many producers of sheep, goats, and cattle. The most critical sector for Somalia is agriculture, with livestock accounting for approximately 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 50% of export earnings.

The country appears to be on a path of recovery as it has experienced a period of stability both politically and institutionally. There was a provisional constitution created in 2011 and the establishment of a federal government in 2012, followed by the creation of four new federal member states that have redrawn Somalia's federal map and created the space for political stability.