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In the seventh century, an Arab sultanate was established by the Yemenites in Zeilah. This settlement was the center of th Audel Empire of the 13th century. Somaliland (SQ/SQR-Somaliland has no official ISO codes) was variously occupied by Egypt and the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1800s until 1884 when it became British Somaliland. On August 18, 1940, Somaliland was incorporated into Italian East Africa, but British forces took back the area in February 1941. British Somaliland gained its independence on June 26, 1960 as the State of Somaliland, and on July 1, 1960, Somaliland and Somalia unified to create the Somali Republic. Since 1991, there has been no organized government in the Somali Republic, and on May 18, 1991, Somaliland seceded from the Somali Republic and formed an independent Republic of Somaliland, though it is not internationally recognized.

British Somaliland never had its own currency. Indian Rupees (INR) were introduced into Somaliland in the 1800s. When Egypt occupied Somaliland, they introduced the Egyptian Piastre (EGQ) as the medium of exchange. The British reintroduced Indian Rupees in 1884 when they formed a British protectorate over Somaliland, allowing Government of India banknotes to circulate in Somaliland along with Maria Theresa Thalers. The Italians used Italian East Africa Lira (AOIL) during their brief rule over Somaliland. The East African Shilling (XEAS) replaced the Italian East African Lira at the rate of 1 Shilling equal to 24 Lira. The Lira continued to be accepted for small payments under £2. Indian rupees continued to circulate in Somaliland until September 30, 1951. The East African Shlling remained the medium of exchange until July 1, 1960.

The Somali Shilling (SOS), divisible into 100 Centi, was introduced on July 1, 1960 at par with the East African Shilling. Banknotes are issued by the Banca Nazionale Somala (renamed the Bankiga Qaranka Soomaaliyeed in 1974) between July 1, 1960 and 1977, and by the Bankiga Dhexe ee Soomaaliya (Central Bank of Somalia) beginning on December 6, 1977.

After Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia, the Baanka Somaliland, founded in 1994, began issuing Somaliland Shilling (SQS) notes and one coin. The Somaliland Shilling was introduced in October 1994 with an official value of 50 Somaliland Shilling equal to the US Dollar; however, inflation caused the Somaliland Shilling to depreciate soon after its introduction, falling to around 3500 Shillings to the US Dollar by 1997.

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