Why Some Former British Colonies Use Dollars

Why Some Former British Colonies Use Dollars


As anyone who knows anything about Britain
knows, the United Kingdom uses a currency known as the Great British Pound. Also, look at that empire they once used to
control. Impressive, right? Well, what about some of their former colonies? Do they use pounds? Well, Egypt does, but what about the others? Well, obviously America uses the US Dollar,
but look at this… the Canadian Dollar, the Australian Dollar, the Singaporean Dollar,
the Malaysian Ringgit (well, formerly Dollar)… and it’s all over the place, the Bahamas,
Jamaica, Guyana, Hong Kong?! What’s going on here? [Sponsored by NordVPN] Well, if we’re going to talk about the history
of currencies of the British Empire, we might as well talk about Britain itself. In Anglo-Saxon times, England started using
currencies inspired by Charlemagne’s empire, which used a currency called the “livre”,
from the Latin “libra”, which was translated into the English “pound”. Nowadays, in the UK of course, a pound is
a measurement of currency, whereas in the US it’s a measure of weight, but in these
times, the currency was called a pound because it was literally a pound of silver. Of course, much like the imperial system that
bore the pound weight, England’s currency system also didn’t make any sense. A pound was divided into 20 shillings, which
was further divided into 12 pence, and then a penny was finally divided into 4 farthings. Simple, right? I mean, to be fair the whole thing was Charlemagne’s
idea, so… Then blah-blah-blah, the pound sterling was
soon after also established, and then the Bank of England was also founded in 1694,
and a whole lot of other stuff happened currency-wise, until it was time for the empire stuff. In 1707, England and Scotland united, and
the pound Scot was merged with the pound sterling. Same thing happened when Ireland was brought
in in 1801, though the Irish pound still circulated until 1826. However, when Britain started to export its
ways of eating tea and dunking crumpers around the world, there wasn’t necessarily a single
currency all around the British Empire. This is because, back in these days, the pound
sterling was a kind of commodity money, meaning it had to be backed by silver or gold. Unfortunately, not everywhere around the world
had the same amount of these metals as back home, so many of Britain’s colonies established
their own currencies, even if they still accepted pound currencies. Okay, let’s go through this region-by-region. Britain’s first colonial holdings were on
the east coast of North America, specifically the colonies that would later form the United
States and Canada. In the early days, each of the colonies had
their own currencies, which were not equal to each-other, although they were still denoted
as pounds, shillings, and pence. Then, in 1775 as the 13 colonies were fighting
for their independence, the Continental Congress established the Continental currency… which
was kind of a complete disaster due to runaway inflation. Later, the Coinage Act of 1792 properly established
the United States Dollar, coming from the Low German term “Thaler”, from the city
of Joachimsthal, the Joachimsthaler, a little like how we call these “burgers” as their
recipe comes from Hamburg. This is also the origin of the name of the
Spanish dollar, more on all this later in the video. Canada, which had much the same history of
a confusing mess of different currencies by the early 19th century, would later face a
decision– when trying to unify these currencies– between using the pound sterling or using
a currency more linked to that used in nearby America. I’ll let you guess which one they picked. And when Canada broke off from Britain in
1867, they finally established their own national currency with its value determined as a kind
of compromise between the US Dollar and the British sovereign. Story of Canada, in a nutshell. Okay, so what about Britain’s next big colonies,
Australia and New Zealand? I mean, they drive on the left, call fries
chips, and don’t talk anything like Americans do, so why don’t they use their own versions
of pounds? Well, Australia’s first currency was indeed
the Australian pound, introduced in 1910. However, the big question came in 1966, when
the currency was to be finally decimalized, and not that weird abomination from 1,000
years prior that you saw about 3 minutes prior. This meant a big change for the currency,
and so Prime Minister Robert Menzies (yes, that is how it’s pronounced) suggested the
name “royal”, which won out over names like the austral, roo, kanga, emu, digger,
kwid, and several other weird suggestions that I swear I’m not making up. However, later PM Harold Holt found out that
this was not a popular choice amongst the public, and so basically said, “screw it,
we’re going with the dollar”. The Australian Dollar was initially fixed
to the Pound sterling, as Australia remained part of the sterling area for one more year
until being pegged to the US Dollar, and then becoming a free-roaming currency of its own. If you want to learn more about the Australian
dollar, BrainCraft made a really good video all about it. Go check it out (and tell Vanessa I said hi)! New Zealand followed a similar path around
this time, also suggesting alternative names to replace the New Zealand pound, like the
kiwi, fern, and zeal, but the name dollar won out anyway. Lastly, we move onto two more prominent former
British colonies, this time two in Asia that were somewhat small in physical size, but
still big in financial power. First, let’s go with Singapore. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
the colonies of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, Sabah, etc. used the aforementioned Spanish
dollar, but in 1826 it was decided that the Indian rupee would now be used in trade, but
this wasn’t deemed a suitable currency for trade in the region, and the Straits dollar
was introduced when these colonies broke off from British India. Singapore then used the Malayan dollar from
1939, and then the Malaya and British Borneo dollar from 1953. When Singapore joined Malaysia, their currencies
were joined in a currency union, until two years after Singapore was kicked out, when
Singapore just decided to go their own way. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but
so are all these stories. In Hong Kong however— despite being once
part of the British Empire and now technically kind of part of China— they use the Hong
Kong dollar, the world’s most interesting currency (I will fight you on this). Initially, when Hong Kong was taken over by
the British and established as a trading port, they didn’t really have a currency, and
just used whatever was used around them. However, after trying to influence Canada’s
currency situation previously, London decided that maybe enforcing the pound sterling everywhere
wasn’t the best idea, and so instead made a new, separate currency for Hong Kong, this
time also immediately going for the silver Spanish dollar system which had also been
popular here. Of course, there are numerous other dollar
currencies in use all around the world, regardless of whether or not they were a British colony,
and not always because of influence from the US. As previously mentioned, the term “dollar”
came from Joachimsthaler, as Joachimsthal was where the Kingdom of Bohemia got the silver
to mint all its coins. The word Thaler spread all around Europe,
twisting and turning until it reached the Netherlands, who established the leeuwendaalder
(lion dollar) for international trade. Then the lion dollar was gradually replaced
by the Spanish peso, which was often called the Spanish dólar, as they looked a lot like
the old lion dollar. The $ sign likely even comes from the word
peso, specifically as a sloppily drawn PS. Of course, the history of currencies and economics
can be just as long-winded and confusing as the histories of the nations and empires that
used them, so of course this is just a simple summary of how everything went down. If you want to read more, I have a crap-ton
of Wikipedia articles in the description for you to read more on, but I just wanted to
talk about why all these currencies are called dollars. “Has this ever happened to you?” “Damn it! I want to watch my favorite shows on Hulu,
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100 thoughts on “Why Some Former British Colonies Use Dollars

  1. Menzies was PM until 26th Jan 1966. The Decimal Dollar was introduced on 14th Feb 1966.
    If you think that they reprinted $98bn in a fortnight, you are off your trolley.

  2. SInce Canada was a joining of multiple colonies that previously had their own colonial currency the canadian dollar was originally just an amalgamation of these. The BC dollar and the Newfoundland Dollar for example were always called that even before confederation

  3. This would have been an easy video to mention that Australia invented the Polymer Banknote.
    On top of that, also print's Canada's money (scents and all) which is why the two dollars are linked closely.

  4. Finally Singapore gets some notice. Anyways SGD should be called the LAH LAH Dollar (only Singaporeans can understand this).

  5. "The United Kingdom uses a currency known as the Great British Pound" We don't. We use the pound Sterling or just the pound. If you're doing a currency video at least get the name right.

  6. You’ve marked the wrong Joachimsthal. The Joachimsthal you’ve marked is just a small town in Brandenburg. The Joachimstal were the word Dollar is derived from actually lies in Bohemia in an area famous it’s history around ore mining.

  7. Canada didn't break off from the British Empire in 1867; four of the colonies there formed a confederation with Britain encouraging it to handle their domestic affairs and collective defense without the UK having to do all of it itself. Furthermore, Canada remained part of the British Empire, with it gradually taking on their own foreign policy in light of unsatisfactory actions by the British, until the Empire was largely dissolved into the British Commonwealth in 1931 with Canada being largely autonomous with the final constitutional authority being ceded to Canada in 1982, making it an autonomous nation in all official capacities.

  8. Isn’t the British currency Sterling 💷???
    And in Eire they had the Punt before the Euro…..
    The word dollar, is old English slang for a pound……..

  9. 'Australia's first currency' ok but why would you skip the best detail of Australian history: our first currency was rum. As in, the drink

  10. Wait, how did you say Robert Menzies? It's just said the normal way, as far as I can tell, living here and hearing people talk about him.

  11. It’s a bit oversimplification to say Canada “broke off” in 1867 – the real process was messier and very much drawn out (though one could say the legal entity that is now Canada was formed in 1867)

  12. By using it's own currency, a country can adjust its economic policy and fine tune it to the requirements of that country. You can see this in the Eurozone and also in some states of America where an individual state is tied to inappropriate financial constraints

  13. When I was very young we still had lsd. It made perfect sense; yes, the decimal system is easier, but if you're brought up with lsd, it's entirely sensible. The changeover was in response to international acceptance. Lsd most certainly wasn't an abomination – it financed the 19th century (for example).

  14. Actually, Malaysia can be considered as one of the country that using Dollar, because literally Ringgit mean Dollar.
    It can be seen in Brunei Dollar, where in their note moneys use Dollar in English and Ringgit in Malay and in daily use domesticly, Bruneians use Ringgit.
    This was also true for Singapore but, some period after separation with Malaysia, they do not use Ringgit anymore legally and daily use especially age of 45 and above. Older people especially from Malay ethic, many of them still been heard using Ringgit for Singapore Dollar.

  15. A lot of people say that Canadian dollars looks like monopoly dollars..
    I’m Canadian and I think they look similar but this ‘joke’ has gone too far.

  16. Canada used playing cards even at one time as currency, later Canadian pounds and in North America, the scarcity of British coins led to the widespread use of Spanish dollars.  That's why we began to use dollars in Canada & USA.

  17. 3:45 …HWHAT?! No, I've been studying and collecting the Canadian dollar for several years, No. The Canadian Dollar was originally a commodity currency until in the 60s or 70s (bad memory) it split off into a floating currency, Just like the US and Australian dollars. Also the Canadian dollar didn't start right after our Independenance, the first Canadian currency was issued in 1870, a full 3 years after independence.

  18. Canada didn’t break away from Great Britain in 1867. It wasn’t until 1980 when Canada got its first constitution that cut all legal ties with the British, retaining only the same monarch.

  19. you didn't even butcher the "leeuwendaalder" up that much. and really thought me something there; being dutch myself I heard this radio add a lot in my youth; "op de markt is je gulden een daalder waard" [in the marketplace your guilder's worth a daalder, ehm dollar" (?)] so that would mean another common root between the countries I wasn't aware of. we did have the 'rijksdaalder' [state 'dollar'] which was worth 2 guilders and 50 cents where as a 'daalder' was supposed to be worth one guilder and fifty cents. oh and by the way; one guilder has always roughly have the same value of one German mark, people living close to the border always could do their shopping in germany paying with guilders, and vice versa.

  20. 0:00 "[…] the United Kingdom uses a currency known as the Great British Pound."

    I am not from the UK but I was pretty sure that their currency isn't called "Great British Pound" but "Pound sterling" and using Wikipedia it took me under two minutes to confirm it.

    I am from Germany so I don't know is "Great British Pound" is like an American nickname for Pound sterling but I have seen your video about the German federal elections/political process which also had a few mistakes and wrong information in so I would suggest that you double check your sources. I am not a troll or hater it's just that if there are informational errors in your videos some people might get false impressions or a false image of the country or topic you are presenting. In the case of the "Great British Pound" that is most certainly not a big deal because the worst thing I can thing of happening to someone would be embarrassing themselves (if that's not actually an American nickname, as I said I don't know that and if it is I would like to apologize) and getting laughed at but which other things the false image that could be a result of an informational error could have much greater consequences.

  21. 6:58 That’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China’s flag. You should have used the British Hong Kong flag

  22. In the Turks & Caicos islands, the US dollar is national currency. Interestingly the 25 cent coins were minted with the Queen's head on the front.

  23. I am fairly certain that Australia and New Zealand would have had their own 'new pence' if Britain went decimal first. Instead, the dominions went decimal before Britain, and to them, the pound was 20 shillings/240 pence, not 100 new pence.

  24. This guy needs to understand that the UK currency is THE POUND STERLING and not the Great British Pound! It would help if he understood the difference between "England/English" , "British/UK". One minute he talks about the first then the second as if they are interchangeable! They are not!

  25. Soon The U.K. Will Join The CANZUK Union. Lets Hope Soon Canada Will Join Too. The Canzuk Union Might Have A CANZUK Pound. For The U.K. And New Zealand, Australia , And Canada A One Currency For All Four ( 4 ) Counties… By The Way.. The U.S. Dollar Is 100% Percent METRIC..Also The U.K. Pound Is 100% Percent Metric. By The Way Canada Never Broke Up With The U.K. Canada Became A Dominion In 1867 Under The Crown..

  26. "Britain's first colonial holdings were on the East coast of America…"

    Doh!! Go done learn yourself some hisrty boy.

  27. I am offended by you including Northern Ireland as Scotland at 1:47, and portrayed the Republic of Ireland as nothing to do with Northern Ireland. Ireland in 1801 was Whole. The Boarder only came in 1921, when the South gained freedom. Sinn Féin are still trying for a United Ireland.
    American ignorance of this is shocking, especially when 30 million of you are "proud" to be Irish. 6 counties never gained freedom… yet.

  28. Sterling sign is from ancient Rome. Libra £.

    that’s also why we use imperial measurements like feet and inches.

    The last Roman Legion did not leave Britain as ordered by Rome but instead stay behind and the currency continue to be used as did imperial measurements. We kind of got used to it.

  29. Even in the 1990's we called our (British) currency "Pound, Sterling": "I will sell you this fine rug for fifty Pound, Sterling". On the news they reported Sterling against the US Dollar, not GBP against USD.

  30. We also call a specific number of pounds (not the currency but an individual bundle of whole numbered pounds) as Quid, 5 Pounds = 5 Quid. It's interesting to learn that Australia considered officially calling their currency the Kwid.

  31. Actually Australia’s first currency was The British pound.

    Then rum became a strong contender for the main monetary unit.

  32. I can’t believe you mentioned Australia and not New Zealand. I’m so offended. Australia is a shithole country.

    Edit: at the beginning.

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