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Exchange rates last updated Tuesday, 05 February 2019 11:15:17 AM EST. The online exchange rates provided by this Currency Converter are intended as a guide only and should not be used for transactional purposes. All rates are subject to change from time to time without notice. Exchange rates used in-store may differ from those offered online. The Travelex online sell rate will be used for conversions from US Dollars to a foreign currency.
The latest on USD to ZAR exchange rates
The lowdown on the South African rand
From when it was introduced in 1961 right up until 1982, the South African rand was worth 1.40 US dollars. The rising political pressure against South Africa’s apartheid began to weaken its value after this, with the currency breaking parity with the dollar in March of 1982, trading between 1 and 1.30 rand to the dollar for almost three years. By February of 1985, the rate had reached more than 2R to the dollar, and by July of that year, all foreign exchange change was suspended for three days to try to stop further devaluation. When State President PW Botha made his Rubicon speech praising the continuation of apartheid on August 15, 1985, the rand weakened to 2.40 to the dollar.
Between 1986 and 1989, the rand recovered a little, trading at around R2 to the dollar and below. However, this was pretty short lived and by the end of 1989, the rand had fallen back to around 2.50 to the dollar.
The 1990s bring changes across South Africa
As uncertainty about the future of South Africa under apartheid grew, the rand continued to depreciate until it reached R3 to the dollar in November of 1992. The 1994 democratic election saw the rand weaken to R3.60, with the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki and the election of Tito Mboweni as the governor of the South African Reserve Bank in 1999 seeing the rand continuing to slide, reaching over 6 dollars. In 2001, Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform program and the September 11 attacks in New York City saw the rand fall to its lowest ever rate of R13.84 to the dollar by December 2001.
Investigation and recovery
The depreciation of the rand in 2001 was so sudden that it led to a formal investigation and, in turn, a dramatic recovery. By the end of 2002, the rand was back trading at under R9 to the dollar, and had reached R5.70 by the end of 2004. By the end of 2005, it had depreciated a little back to R6.35 but regained its momentum and was trading under R6 by January 2006.
The second half of 2006, however, saw the rand weaken again. There were a number of factors that contributed to this, including South Africa’s current account deficit which was worsening to a 36 year high, inflation, which was at a five year high and the Eskom electricity crisis. However, in the time since 2006, the South African rand has begun to stabilize again, although it has steadily been rising since 2011.