The franc is a unity of currency, comparable to the US dollar, the pound sterling, and the rupee, which was originally issued in France in 1360 and popular throughout Europe and Africa in the 20th century. The franc was largely supplanted by the euro in Europe beginning in 1999, but is still used by many countries in Africa—though its use is not without controversy. Like the names dollar and peso, the name franc is actually given to several different currencies, including the Swiss franc and the French franc.
The origin of the name franc is unsettled. One theory posits that the word is derived from the Latin Francorum Rex, which translates to "King of the Franks" and was inscribed on the original coin (alongside an image of King John II riding a horse). Another theory suggests the term is a variation of the French word franc, which can mean either "straightforward" or "free", depending upon the context.
Although many Western European countries that once used the franc have switched to the European Union's euro, 22 countries and three territories still use a unit of currency directly denominated in francs. Of the 22 countries still using the franc, 20 are located in Africa.
|Country/Territory||Franc Type||ISO 4217 Code||$1 USD (22 Nov 2022) =|
|Benin||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Burkina Faso||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Burundi||Burundian franc||BIF||2,053.87 BIF|
|Cameroon||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Central African Republic||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Chad||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Comoros||Comorian franc||KMF||478.78 KMF|
|Djibouti||Djiboutian franc||DJF||177.78 DJF|
|DR Congo||Congolese franc||CDF||2,035.30 CDF|
|Equatorial Guinea||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|French Polynesia*||CFP franc||XPF||116.19 XPF|
|Gabon||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Guinea||Guinean franc||GNF||8,603.60 GNF|
|Guinea-Bissau||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Ivory Coast||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Liechtenstein||Swiss franc||CHF||0.95 CHF|
|Mali||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|New Caledonia*||CFP franc||XPF||116.19 XPF|
|Niger||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Republic of the Congo||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Rwanda||Rwandan franc||RWF||1,075.51 RWF|
|Senegal||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Switzerland||Swiss franc||CHF||0.95 CHF|
|Togo||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Wallis and Futuna*||CFP franc||XPF||116.19 XPF|
Note: Titles marked with * are semi-autonomous French territories
Ironically, while France itself has adopted the euro, three of its territories—French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna—still use the CFP franc, which was devised specifically for France's territories. France also created the CFA franc, which is still in use in many of its former colonies in Africa. The CFA franc exists in two interchangeable variations: the West African CFA franc (XOF), which is currently used by eight African nations, and the Central African CFA franc (XAF), currently used by six African countries. Another six African countries use their own version of the franc.
The CFP and both variations of CFA franc are all tied to the French monetary system, which has given France a questionable degree of control over the value of those countries' currency. A new currency dubbed the eco has been proposed as the new official currency for several African countries, including those presently using the West African CFA franc. However, implementation of the eco has been hampered by multiple complicating factors. The eco was originally slated to be deployed in 2003, but has been rescheduled several times. Its current planned release date is 2027.
Although the euro has largely replaced the franc in Europe, two European countries still use the franc as their official currency: Switzerland and Liechtenstein. While the franc is undoubtedly preferred, most places in Switzerland and Liechtenstein will still accept euros (though prices may differ). Although most of Europe is quickly transitioning to the standard Euro, neither Switzerland nor Liechtenstein have announced plans to replace the franc with the euro in the future.
|Country/Territory||Franc Type||Year Replaced||Current Currency||ISO 4217 Code|
|Algeria||Algerian franc||1964||Algerian dinar||DZD|
|Madagascar||Malagasy franc||2005||Malagasy ariary||MGA|
|Mauritania||CFA franc||1973||Mauritanian ouguiya||MRU|
|Monaco||French franc & Monégasque franc||2002||euro||EUR|
|Morocco||Moroccan franc||1960||Moroccan dirham||MAD|
|Tunisia||Tunisian franc||1958||Tunisian dinar||TND|
The franc is a unit of currency that was used around the world at one point. There are different variations of the franc, including the Swiss franc and the French franc. Although the franc was widely used, today it has largely been replaced by the Euro in many places in Western Europe. Many former colonies of both Belgium and France continue to use some variation of the franc.
The franc got its name from the Latin inscription francorum rex, which translates to "King of the Franks," alluding to France's historical past. The franc is an easy form of money to use, with one franc divided into 100 centimes.
Today, many Western European countries that once used the franc have since switched to the standardized Euro found throughout most of Europe. Currently, 22 countries and three territories use a unit of currency directly denominated in francs. Of the 22 countries using the franc, 20 are located in Africa, and the three territories are part of the French Republic. Territories currently using the franc include French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna. These territories use the CFP franc, compared to the standard CFA franc that is commonly found throughout Africa.
There are two different versions of the African franc, with 14 countries using the CFA and six African countries using their own version of the franc, which are directly tied to the French franc. The CFA franc was introduced in the African countries in 1945 and has been in circulation ever since. The CFP and the CFA franc can be interchanged with the standard franc used elsewhere.
African countries that still use the franc include Cameroon, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Comoros, Djibouti, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
Although the Euro has largely replaced the franc, two European countries still use the franc. Both Switzerland and Liechtenstein will use the franc as their official currency. While the franc is undoubtedly preferred, most places in Switzerland and Liechtenstein will still take Euros and be happy to conduct business in this widely accepted currency. Although most of Europe is quickly transitioning to the standard Euro, both Switzerland and Liechtenstein do not have any plans to replace the franc with the Euro in the future.
ISO 4217 Code
$1 USD (21 Nov 2022) =
|Algeria||Algerian franc||Replaced in 1964||Algerian dinar||DZD||139.12 DZD|
|Andorra||French franc||Replaced in 2002||EU euro||EUR||0.97 EUR|
|Antigua and Barbuda||XCD|
|Belgium||Belgian franc||Replaced in 2002||EU euro||EUR||0.97 EUR|
|Benin||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Bhutan||Bhutanese ngultrum and Indian rupee||BTN/INR|
|British Virgin Islands||USD|
|Burkina Faso||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Burundi||Burundian franc||Currently in use||Burundian franc||BIF||2053.87 BIF|
|Cameroon||Central African CFA franc||Currently in use||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Central African Republic||Central African CFA franc||Currently in use||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Chad||Central African CFA franc||Currently in use||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Comoros||Comorian franc||Currently in use||Comorian franc||KMF||478.78 KMF|
|Costa Rica||Costa Rican colón||CRC|
|Djibouti||Djiboutian franc||Currently in use||Djiboutian franc||DJF||177.78 DJF|
|Dominican Republic||Dominican peso||DOP|
|DR Congo||Congolese franc||Currently in use||Congolese franc||CDF||2035.30 CDF|
|El Salvador||US dollar/Bitcoin||USD/BTC|
|Equatorial Guinea||Central African CFA franc||Currently in use||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|France||French franc||Replaced in 2002||EU euro||EUR||0.97 EUR|
|French Polynesia||CFP franc||Currently in use||CFP franc||XPF||116.19 XPF|
|Gabon||Central African CFA franc||Currently in use||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Guinea||Guinean franc||Currently in use||Guinean franc||GNF||8603.60 GNF|
|Guinea Bissau||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Isle of Man||GBP IMP**|
|Ivory Coast||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Liechtenstein||Swiss franc||Currently in use||Swiss franc||CHF||0.95 CHF|
|Luxembourg||Luxembourgish franc||Replaced in 2002||EU euro||EUR||0.97 EUR|
|Madagascar||Malagasy franc||Replaced in 2005||Malagasy ariary||MGA||4329.52 MGA|
|Mali||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Mauritania||CFA franc||Replaced in 1973||Mauritanian ouguiya||MRU||38.06 MRU|
|Monaco||French franc and Monégasque franc||Replaced in 2002||EU euro||EUR||0.97 EUR|
|Morocco||Moroccan franc||Replaced in 1960||Moroccan dirham||MAD||10.75 MAD|
|New Caledonia||CFP franc||Currently in use||CFP franc||XPF||116.19 XPF|
|Niger||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Northern Mariana Islands||USD|
|Puerto Rico||US dollar||USD|
|Republic of the Congo||Central African CFA franc||Currently in use||Central African CFA franc||XAF||638.66 XAF|
|Rwanda||Rwandan franc||Currently in use||Rwandan franc||RWF||1075.51 RWF|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||XCD|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||CAD/EUR|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||XCD|
|Senegal||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Sri Lanka||Sri Lankan rupee||LKR|
|Switzerland||Swiss franc||Currently in use||Swiss franc||CHF||0.95 CHF|
|Togo||West African CFA franc||Currently in use||West African CFA franc||XOF||638.66 XOF|
|Trinidad and Tobago||TTD|
|Tunisia||Tunisian franc||Replaced in 1958||Tunisian dinar||TND||3.25 TND|
|United Arab Emirates||Emirati dirham||AED|
|United States Virgin Islands||USD|
|Wallis and Futuna||CFP franc||Currently in use||CFP franc||XPF||116.19 XPF|
Today, 22 countries use francs, of which 20 are in Africa. Additionally, three territories also use francs.
In Europe, only Switzerland and Liechtenstein use francs. Some of the 20 African nations that use francs include Senegal, Togo, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Cameroon, Benin, and Burkina Faso.