What is the Currency of Bolivia?

By Victor Rotich on August 1 2017 in Economics

Bolivian boliviano banknotes.

The official currency used in Bolivia is the Bolivian boliviano. The currency is abbreviated as Bs, its official ISO certification is ISO 4217, and it is coded as BOB. The currency has 100 subdivisions which are known as cents, or centavos in Spanish.

History of the Boliviano

Boilivia's first national currency was the Bolivian sol, which existed from 1827 until 1864, and served as a replacement for the colonial Spanish currency, the real. The first Boliviano boliviano was introduced in 1864, and was pegged to both the French franc and British pound at various times. However, in 1963, the boliviano was replaced by the Bolivian peso, as part of the government's attempt to improve the country's economic stability. A second boliviano was introduced as a replacement for the Bolivian peso in 1987, and it remains as Bolivia's official currency. One new boliviano corresponded to half a scudo or 8 soles of the peso-based currency. As a result of the rampant inflation in the country, the new boliviano was introduced to replace the boliviano peso. At this time of this currency change, 1 million Bolivian pesos were equivalent to one new boliviano.

Boliviano Coins

During the introduction of centavos in 1988, coins in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavo were issued. In 1987, the 1 boliviano coin was introduced. In 1991, a 2 boliviano coin made of stainless steel was introduced, a copper plated 10 centavo coin came into use in 1997, and a bi-metallic 5 boliviano coin was introduced in 2001. The boliviano and centavo coins differed in size, shape, color, and mass. For example, 1 boliviano coins were round, whereas 2 boliviano coins had an undecagon shape. The state underwent a transition which led to the scrapping of the 2 and 5 Boliviano coins from use. The inscription on the observe of the coin is "La Union es la Fuerza," which means "Union is strength" in Spanish. On the reserve side of the coin, the Bolivian coat of arms can be found with the inscription "Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia," which means "Plurinational state of Bolivia."

Boliviano Banknotes

Banknotes were introduced in 1987 in both centavos and bolivianos. Denominations were issued in 1, 5, 10, and 50 centavos, 1, 5, and 10 bolivianos, which brought about provisional issues, and regular denominational bills were published in 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 bolivianos. The 2 and 5 boliviano notes were later replaced by coins in 1991 and 2001, respectively.

The 10 boliviano bill features a picture of the painted Cecilio Guzman, and on the reverse is an image of the Bolivian city Cochabamba. On the 100 boliviano note, a picture of the renowned historian Gabriel Rene is featured. Pontifical University of Saint Francisco Xavier of Chiquisaca, which is the second oldest university in the Americas, is found on the reverse.


Although Bolivia has been politically independent since 1825, the currency is manufactured abroad in the United Kingdom, France, and Chile.

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