What is the Currency of Colombia?

By Sharon Omondi on August 1 2017 in Economics

Colombian peso banknotes and coins.
Colombian peso banknotes and coins.

The currency of Colombia is known as the Colombian peso. It is coded as COP and informally written as COL$. The official symbol for peso is $. The institution responsible for issuing the currency in varied denominations is the Central Bank of Colombia, namely the Banco de la República.

History of the Colombian Peso

Before 1810, Colombia used the real as its currency. However, real was replaced by the peso in 1810 at the rate of 8 reals per peso. In 1847, the peso was sub-divided into ten reals to cater for the need for decimalization. In 1871, the Republic of Colombia transitioned to the gold standard. The new standard pegged the peso to the French franc at an exchange rate of 1 peso for every 5 francs. This continued until 1888 when Colombia's paper money depreciated so much that the exchange rate between paper money and coins became 100 peso moneda corriente for every 1 peso coin. In 1931, Columbia shifted its peg to the US dollar at 1.05 pesos for each dollar. Colombian paper money was denominated as peso oro until 1993, when the term “oro” was dropped.

Banknotes and Issues

The first paper money issued in Colombia was introduced between 1857 and 1880 in denominations of 10, 50, 10, 5, 3, 2, and 1 pesos, and 10 and 50 centavos. Since then the Colombian currency has undergone many changes. One change is the introduction of other denominations, such as the 200, 500, 2,000 and 1,000 pesos. More security features have also been introduced, like the number “2” written in Braille on the 2,000 peso. Last year, Colombia's Central Bank introduced a new series of banknotes, namely 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, and 2,000 pesos. These new notes highlight various aspects of Colombian cultural heritage, science, and politics.

Peso Coins

Between 1837 and 1839, the Republic of New Grenada introduced silver and gold reals and pesos. This occurred before the country's name changed to the United States of Colombia. The denominations of coins issued were 8, 2, 1, ½, and ¼ real coins, which were made of silver, as well as 2, 1, and 16 pesos made of gold. Over the years, the material used to make these coins has evolved from silver, gold, and cupro-nickel to bronze. The denominations of coins used in Colombia today are 1,000, 100, 500, 50, 100, 200, and 20 pesos.

Exchange Rate of the Peso Against the US Dollar

On April 26, 2017, the exchange rate of the Colombian peso to the US dollar was 1 dollar = 2930 pesos. However, as of June 23, 2017, the exchange rate was 1 dollar = 3,028 pesos. This means the value of the peso weakened against the US dollar over this two month period. While it is clear that the stronger currency between the two is the US dollar, it is also an indication that Colombia’s economy is flourishing.

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