How and why did Zimbabwe issue a one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note?

The issuance of the one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note is a vivid emblem of Zimbabwe’s staggering hyperinflation during the late 2000s.

One hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note

Here’s an explanation of how and why this came to be:


Zimbabwe’s economy began its downturn in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to various factors, including land reform policies, political instability, and international sanctions.

As economic troubles mounted, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe started printing more money to finance budget deficits and other expenses. This exacerbated inflation as an increased money supply with limited goods and services led to price hikes.

Hyperinflation occurs when monthly inflation rates exceed 50%. By 2008, Zimbabwe’s inflation rates were astronomical, reaching figures that are nearly incomprehensible. At its peak in November 2008, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate was estimated at 79.6 billion percent month-on-month or 89.7 sextillion year-on-year.

Issuance of the One Hundred Trillion Zimbabwean Dollar Note

As hyperinflation spiraled out of control, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had to continually introduce higher denomination banknotes. Prices would sometimes double in a day, and consumers often had to carry bundles of cash for basic transactions.

Despite the astronomical face value, the one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note, introduced in January 2009, was only worth about 30 U.S. dollars on the black market at the time of its release. Within days, its value dropped even further.

The issuance of such high-denomination notes was an attempt to cope with hyperinflation. Without these notes, daily transactions would become almost impossible, as it would require carrying an impractical volume of lower-denomination notes.


The hyperinflation became so extreme that the Zimbabwean dollar became defunct. In April 2009, Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency and began using foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar and South African rand for transactions.

The one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note became a symbol of economic mismanagement, and while they’re no longer legal tender, these notes are often sold as souvenirs around the world.


The issuance of the one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note was a desperate measure by the Zimbabwean government to manage a catastrophic hyperinflation scenario, resulting from a combination of economic, political, and policy failures over the years.

READ MORE: Lesser-Known Facts about Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s Longest-Serving President

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