CFA franc

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The CFA franc (in French: franc CFA [fʁɑ̃ seɛfɑ], or colloquially franc) is the name of two currencies used in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc. Although theoretically separate, the two CFA franc currencies are effectively interchangeable.

Both CFA Francs currently have a fixed exchange rate to the euro: 100 CFA francs = 1 former French (nouveau) franc = 0.152449 euro; or 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.

Although Central African CFA francs and West African CFA francs have always been at parity and have therefore always had the same monetary value against other currencies, they are in principle separate currencies. They could theoretically have different values from any moment if one of the two CFA monetary authorities, or France, decided it. Therefore West African CFA coins and banknotes are theoretically not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs, and vice versa. However in practice the permanent parity of the two CFA franc currencies is widely assumed.

CFA Francs are used in fourteen countries: twelve formerly French-ruled African countries, as well as in Guinea-Bissau (a former Portuguese colony) and in Equatorial Guinea (a former Spanish colony). The ISO currency codes are XAF for the Central African CFA franc and XOF for the West African CFA franc.

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Name

Between 1845 and 1858, CFA stood for Colonies françaises d'Afrique ("French colonies of Africa"); then for Communauté française d'Afrique ("French community of Africa") between 1958 (establishment of the French Fifth Republic) and the independence of these African countries at the beginning of the 1960s. Since independence, CFA is taken to mean Communauté Financière Africaine (African Financial Community),[1] but in actual use, the term can have two meanings (see Institutions below).

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