Everything You Need to Know About Indonesian Rupiah

December 15th, 2022

Indonesia is an emerging economy that languished under dictatorship and economic instability for many years. Over the past 20 years, the country has stabilized with more traditional forms of democracy and has seen a steady rise in production and economic activity. Collectors and investors are beginning to notice the Indonesian Rupiah as a true source of value.

To get a deeper understanding of the Indonesian currency, we will give you a brief history of the country, the Indonesian Rupiah currency, and the economic situation. This will help you on your journey to determine if this currency is right for your collection or portfolio. If you’re a traveler, we’ll cover everything you need to know about exchanging Indonesian Rupiah.

History of Indonesia

Indonesia is a modern nation but a country with a long and rich history. From the Saivite Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya, Indonesia has seen its share of colonization by the Dutch and subsequent independence after World War II.

From its religious past to its recent transition from Dutch colonial rule to democracy, Indonesia has endured many trials and tribulations on its way to becoming the vibrant nation it is today. While conquests, wars, and revolutions have threatened the country's stability at different times throughout its history, Indonesia's people have faced their adversities with resilience.

Today, Indonesia remains a vibrant nation full of diversity and respect for past cultures. Keep reading to learn more!


Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, with more than 17,000 islands. Over 261 million people live in Indonesia, making it the 4th most populous country in the world and also the most populous Muslim country in the world.

There is evidence that people have lived in the Indonesian isles as far back as recorded history goes. It wasn’t until 700 BC that the natives began organizing into larger societies when they began to make bronze and iron. At this time, wet rice cultivation arose, leading to cooperation between Indonesian villages to regulate water supply to rice fields. This organization led to the beginning of organized kingdoms within the islands.

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Rise of Indonesian Kingdoms

Around 400 BC, Indonesians began trading with China and India. Buddhism and Hinduism were introduced into the country as a result. By the 8th century AD, the Indonesian kingdoms flourished. The Hindu kingdom reigned in central Java, and a Buddhist kingdom in Sumatra. This Buddhist kingdom continued to grow and control more territory among the Indonesian isles, becoming a center of Buddhist learning. In the 13th century, this empire broke up into several separate states.

Around this time, Islam was brought to the islands through trade with Arabia and India. It continued to spread throughout the region and eventually became the dominant religion of the islands. After the dissolution of the strong Buddhist kingdom, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom flourished throughout the 13th and 14th centuries. By the beginning of the 15th century, the empire began to decline.

European Colonialism


Portuguese traders began to arrive in Indonesia in 1512. Dutch and British traders followed suit, and in 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company and dominated the region for almost 200 years. The corporation was dissolved in 1800 due to bankruptcy, and the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nation.

Because of the span of territory, Dutch control during this colonial period remained tenuous. Dutch military was continually squelching rebellions in Java and many of the other islands. The struggle continued until the early 20th century, before the Dutch could claim complete control over every island that makes up the country’s current boundaries.

World War II and the Aftermath

World War II ended Dutch rule, and Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands weakened Dutch power internationally. Japan saw this weakness extend into their Pacific territories and saw an opportunity for invasion. Indonesian saw Japan’s occupation as a step toward independence from foreign rule.

Initially, Japan encouraged independence movements that had been suppressed under the Dutch. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, Sukarno, a local Indonesian leader, proclaimed independence and became president.

Indonesian Independence

The Dutch attempted to reestablish their rule over the region after World War II ended, but they formally recognized Indonesian independence in 1949. Initially, Indonesia organized the government as a parliamentary democracy, but President Sukarno established a more centralized, militarized system in 1957. In October 1957, the army took over the remaining Dutch companies and became wealthy.

The military control of the economy eventually led to economic collapse in the 1960s, spiking raid inflation. President Sukarno granted powers to General Suharto to restore order following a rise in Communist rebels during the economic chaos. Sukarno eventually lost popular support, and General Suharto ruled as a dictator beginning in 1966. Order was quickly restored under his rule, and the economy recovered.

Democracy and Economic Progress

Indonesia has oil reserves that had been exploited, but after 1973, the country benefited from oil wealth. Throughout the ’70s and ‘80s, Indonesia became more productive, but, unfortunately, many remained poor, and in 1997, they were hit by another financial crisis.

Riots occurred, and Suharto resigned in May 1988. The county returned to a traditional democracy, with elections occurring in 1999. By the beginning of the 21st century, the economy began an upward expansion and has continued to be stable and grow steadily.

What Is Indonesian Currency? History of the Indonesian Rupiah

indonesian rupiah bills

The first appearance of banknotes in Indonesia was under the influence of the Dutch through the United East Indies Company in the early 1800s. The Netherlands Indian gulden banknotes and coinage. These systems of currency continued even through the Japanese occupation. Japan changed the name of the currency to the “roepiah” in 1943.

Indonesian Rupiah Banknotes

The first Indonesian rupiah notes were issued in 1946 while Indonesia struggled for independence from the Dutch. Once the Dutch withdrew and agreed to Indonesian independence, the rupiah was confirmed as the Indonesian currency in 1949. Since that time, Indonesia’s economy has steadily improved, and the country is evolving into a manufacturing hub for American and European companies.

Indonesian Currency Symbol, Code & Denominations

The international currency code for the Indonesian Rupiah is IDR. In this case, the IDR meaning is “Indonesian Rupiah” – don’t confuse it with the “international depository receipt”, a negotiable certificate issued by a bank.

The name “rupiah” is actually borrowed from an Indian Sanskrit word for silver. Informally, many Indonesians will refer to the currency as “perak” – the Indonesian word for silver. The rupiah was originally divided into 100 sen, but those have been discontinued due to inflationary conditions.

Rupiah’s are issued in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000, and 100.000. The banknotes contain the likeness of many important figures in Indonesian history. Ki Hadjar Dewantoro founded the educational system of the country and is on the 20,000 note. Tjut Njak Dhien was a fighter against Dutch colonization and is on the 10,000 note. Thomas Matulessy (Kapitan Pattimura) also led rebellions against the Dutch and is on the 1,000 note.

Indonesia Money Supply M0

Money Supply M0 (monetary base) and M1 are also known as “narrow money” and refer to physical money, such as coins and currency, demand deposits, and other liquid assets easily accessible to central banks.

Indonesia Money Supply M0 is the most liquid measure of the money supply in circulation, including coins, notes, and other assets that are easily convertible into cash. The maximum Indonesia money supply volume was 760045 IDR Billion, and the minimum one was 2983 IDR Billion.

Counterfeiting Protection

Indonesia uses long wood fibers to produce its currency and protect against counterfeiting. The process of heating the fibers to make pulp is a unique process that secures the currency. Watermarks, electrotypes, and security threads are embedded as well.

Some notes also have holograms, Irisafe, iridescent stripes, clear windows, metameric windows, and gold patches. Each note also includes tactile features so the blind and people with visual impairment can distinguish between denominations.

USD vs. IDR Exchange Rate

The mid-market exchange rate for USD/IDR is 1 USD = 15563 IDR; however, it can vary. Knowing when to buy and sell foreign currency can result in huge savings for those who know how to play their cards right. It's no easy feat, though – it takes research, dedication, and keeping an eye on the ever-evolving currency trends.

Sign up for our exchange rate alerts to track the value of the Indonesian Rupiah or other currencies over time and find the best time to buy currencies.

Bali Money: What Is Bali Currency?

Bali is an Indonesian island located between Java Island in the west and Lombok in the east. On the island, most of the population is Indonesian Hindus, who otherwise represent a minority in the country.

Bali is the ultimate destination for a getaway, with something to offer everyone. Whether seeking relaxation or adventure, this dreamy Indonesian island has it all: miles of gorgeous beaches and stunning scenery that will take your breath away, plenty of unique cultural attractions to explore, and a myriad of activities like snorkeling, surf lessons, yoga retreats, and nightlife experiences.

In other words, if you're looking for fun in the sun while mixing in the sense of local flavor, then Bali promises an unforgettable vacation. The official currency in Bali is also the colorful Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), used throughout all of Indonesia’s paradise islands.

Where to Exchange Indonesian Rupiah?

Unless you’ve arrived off a plane in Indonesia, you won’t find many locations to exchange Indonesian Rupiah. Airport kiosks are one option, but they charge hefty fees, as do foreign ATMs and banks. The most accessible place to buy and sell foreign currency online is to use a registered money changer like US First Exchange.

At US First Exchange, we deal in a range of foreign currencies, including exotic currencies like the Indonesian Rupiah, Iraqi Dinar, and Vietnamese Dong. You can order foreign currency online and have your Indonesian money shipped straight to your door in 24-48 hours. All shipments are fully insured, and we pride ourselves on having the industry’s lowest spreads.

To provide the most secure and safe transactions, US First Exchange is registered with the US Treasury as a Money Services Business (view a copy of our registration). In addition to federal regulation, we hold multiple state-specific licenses as a money services business. Where required, we are bonded as well.

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