What Is the Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD)?

The Solomon Islands dollar (SBD) is the official currency of the Solomon Islands. It is issued by the country’s central bank and identified as SBD in foreign exchange markets.

Key Takeaways

  • SBD is the abbreviation for the Solomon Islands dollar.
  • SBD has been the currency of the Solomon Islands since 1977.
  • SBD banknotes are issued in denominations of five, 10, 20, 40, 50, and 100 dollars.

Understanding the Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD)

The SBD uses the symbol SI$ to set it apart from other currencies that also use the dollar sign. The subunit of the SBD is the cent, of which it contains 100.

Banknotes are issued in the most commonly used denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100, and the rarer denomination of $40. Coins, meanwhile, have been issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and one dollar.

History of the Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD)

When the SBD was introduced to the Solomon Islands in 1977, it replaced the Australian dollar as the official currency of the nation. Previous currencies included the Australian pound sterling, which was replaced by the Australian dollar in 1966; the Oceanian pound, a Japanese invasion currency used during the Japanese occupation of the islands during WWII; and the Solomon Islands pound.

From 1977 to 1979, the SBD and the Australian dollar enjoyed a one-to-one exchange rate. In 1979, the SBD was pegged at SI$ 1.05 to AUD $1, but later it was floated.

Over the next few decades, economic stagnation and inflation drove the value of the SBD down. By 2008, SBD coins had become little more than curiosities among the locals, many of whom hoarded them to give away or trade to travelers as souvenirs. As of Sept. 3, 2021, one SBD is worth just 17 Australian cents.

In some parts of the Solomon Islands, dolphin teeth and other traditional forms of exchange are used in lieu of the SBD.

Coin Series

The original coin series of the SBD, introduced in 1977, included cent coins that corresponded in size, material, and weight to their Australian counterparts. The six original coins, minted in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 cents and one dollar, bore depictions of symbols, items, or figures important to Solomon Islands culture. For example, the ten-cent coin was minted with an image of Ngoreru, a Temoto sea god.

In later series, the composition was changed to bronze-plated or nickel-clad steel, with the 50-cent piece being introduced in 1988 and the one and two-cent coins being phased out due to inflation. Currently, all coins bear the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II.

Banknotes

Banknotes were first issued in denominations of two, five, and 10 dollars, with 20-dollar notes appearing in 1980. Originally bearing the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II, banknotes now bear a depiction of the national crest, as well as scenes of daily life and cultural importance. Some of these scenes include sailing in a longboat (on the five-dollar bill), weaving (on the ten-dollar bill), warriors (on the 20-dollar bill), and coconut harvesting (on the 100-dollar bill).

Fifty-dollar notes were introduced in 1986, and 100-dollar notes in 2006. Beginning in 2007, the banknotes began to incorporate security features, such as a security thread woven through the note and tapered serial numbers.