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What is a Zloty?

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  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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A zloty is a Polish unit of currency. In 1995, after runaway inflation made the currency almost worthless, it was revalued, with 10,000 in old zlotys worth one new. Old money can still be accepted as legal tender, but inflation has made it more valuable as a souvenir than as a useful form of currency.

First introduced in 1496, the zloty was valued at 30 groszy, an established coin already in circulation for more than a century. Over the centuries, it took many different forms and values, but for the majority of Polish history, it has been the national currency, with a few notable exceptions. In the late 19th century, Russian control saw the rubel become the nation’s currency, and following World War I, German occupation replaced the rubel with the marka. Inflation after the war devalued the German marka, and in 1924, Polish national currency was reintroduced with an exchange rate of one zloty to 1.8 million marka.

Since returning in 1924, the zloty has existed in some form as Poland’s currency. During World War II, Poland continued to use its own currency under Nazi control, with a fixed exchange rate of two Reichsmark to one zloty. In 1950, a new currency was launched, with a one to 100 compared to the old currency. This currency remained in place until inflation prompted its replacement in 1995.

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In the 21st century, the Polish zloty is a decimal currency, with 100 groszy to one zloty. Coins are minted in the amounts of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 groszy and 1, 2 and 5 zlotys. Higher-value coins, ranging from 10 to 500 zlotys, are minted as legal tender but are not commonly in circulation and are not widely used. Notes are printed in the amounts of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 zlotys, although the 200 zlotys note is not commonly used.

Polish plans to embrace the European Union (EU) include the eventual adoption of the Euro as a national currency, and adoption of the currency was in fact a condition set when Poland joined the EU in 2004. In 2008, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated that, pending the results of a 2010 referendum and European Central Bank approval in 2011, the ruling government hoped to join the Eurozone by 2012, and this would include the adoption of the Euro. An amendment to the constitution would have to be made before a new currency could be adopted.

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