What Is the Somali Shilling (SOS)?

SOS is the currency abbreviation or currency symbol for the Somali shilling, the official currency of Somalia that is issued and managed by the country's central bank. Banknotes of the currency are issued in denominations of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 shillings. It also circulates in the following coins: 1, 5, 10, and 50 senti, as well as one, five, 10, 20, 50, and 100 shillings.

Key Takeaways

  • The Somali shilling (SOS) is the currency of the country of Somalia and is issued and managed by the Central Bank of Somalia.
  • The Somali shilling comes in banknotes of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 shillings and coins of 1, 5, 10, and 50 senti, as well as one, five, 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.

Understanding the Somali Shilling (SOS)

Somalia is located in Northeast Africa and has used various currencies over the past century. The SOS became legal tender throughout the country after Somalia gained independence from British and Italian colony rule. 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 to foster monetary stability, maintain the internal and external value of the Somali shilling and promote credit and exchange conditions that contribute to the balanced growth of the economy.

Civil war and political unrest have led to wild fluctuations or volatility in the SOS exchange rate. Since the early 2000s, the SOS exchange rate has fluctuated between 550 SOS to one USD to over 3,000 SOS to one USD.

Worth of the Somali Shilling (SOS)

As of Sept. 2, 2021, the estimated monthly living costs without rent for a family of four in Somalia are 911,739 SOS, while a single person's living costs without rent are 264,256 SOS. The cost of living in Somalia is on average 51% less than in the U.S. One gallon of milk costs 2,933 SOS and a loaf of bread costs 341 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.

Somalia Economy

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.

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 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.