Moroccan Mondays: Currency

The Peace Corps has three main goals, with the Third Goal focusing on bringing our host countries to our readership. With that being said, understanding my host country is exceedingly important to me, and one of my own goals is to bring a deeper understanding of everything Morocco to all of my readers. “Moroccan Mondays” are blog posts specifically catered to educating all of you about my host country, not necessarily the Peace Corps.

Unit of Currency: The Moroccan Dirham (درهم)

Currency Code: MAD (i.e. the United States code is USD)
Coins: 1, 2, 5, and 10
Banknotes: 20, 50, 100, and 200 dirhams
Moroccan GDP: USD $109.2 billion (61st globally)
Central Bank: Bank Al-Maghrib


Prior to 1882, Morocco used copper coins (falus), silver coins (dirham), and gold coins (benduqi) as currency, but when the Moroccan rial was introduced, the dirham was reduced to a subunit (10 dirham = 1 rial); the rial served as currency from 1882 to 1912. However, most of Morocco became a French protectorate in 1912, leading to another currency switch to the Moroccan franc.

On October 16, 1960, the dirham replaced the franc (100 francs = 1 dirham) as the major unit of currency. In 1974, a unit called the santim replaced the franc at an equal value, and it has remained in place ever since. While the rial and franc are no longer official, the names are still used to describe 5 santimat and 1 santim, respectively. Plus, this somewhat convoluted terminology also changes with the amount of money being used, or with the language being spoken (Arabic or French). EASY AS PIE.


10 dirhams (about 1 USD)


Front: King Hassan II

Moroccan lute, pillar

20 dirhams (about 2 USD)


Front: King Mohammed VI, Moroccan coat of arms


Back: Train crossing Hassan II Bridge over the Bou Regreg river in Rabat; Hassan II Mosque and city buildings in Casablanca

50 dirhams (about 5 USD)


Front: King Mohammed VIMoroccan coat of arms


Back: Ouzoud Falls

100 dirhams (about 10 USD)


Front: King Mohammed VIMoroccan coat of arms


Back: Tuareg tent, wind turbine farm

200 dirhams (about 20 USD)


Front: King Mohammed VIMoroccan coat of arms


Back: Port of Tangier, Cape Spartel in Tangier

Comparison: USD (US Dollar) to MAD (Moroccan Dirham)

While it does fluctuate, 1 USD is equivalent to about 9 MADs, meaning 1 MAD is worth about $0.10 of 1 USD. Does this mean I’m a rich woman?


For the past twenty-some years, Morocco has seen an increasingly liberalized economy, with the privatization of former state assets. Despite its small size, Morocco has the 5th largest economy in Africa, and has the 2nd largest non-oil GDP in the Arab world. However, Morocco’s growing economy has also led to an increasing income gap. The unemployment rate has always been high, and it remains one of the country’s prevailing issues. Other persistent problems are the high cost of importing petroleum products and a high external debt.

Morocco’s economy relies largely on agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. With about 40% of the population working in agriculture, the sector is crucial. Barley and wheat are found in the rainy northeast, with more Mediterranean products (olives, wine, etc.) found on the Atlantic coast. Tourism is an essential component of Morocco’s economy, especially with Europe being in such close proximity. Some of the tourist hotspots include Marrakech, Tangier, Fez, and Casablanca.

The country has persistent economic issues, but it ultimately remains stable and largely successful. With a hefty number of investments from Europe, and with a closeness to other Western countries, Morocco is definitely a nation to keep on our success radar.

Source: Wikipedia (Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sooooo reliable.)

Click here for more Moroccan Monday posts.


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