What is the Currency of Cuba?

By Brian Kasyoka Musili on August 1 2017 in Economics

Cuban peso coins and banknotes.

Cuba is an island country comprised of two main islands and several archipelagos. It is located in the Northern Caribbean, and Havana is the country's largest city as well as its capital. The country was colonized by Spain in the 15th century and remained under Spanish rule until 1898. After the Spanish-American War it became an American protectorate in 1902. Cuba is a socialist country with a state-controlled economy. Most production is done by the government.

What is the Currency of Cuba?

Cuba has two official currencies: the peso and the convertible peso, also known as the Cuban dollar. The convertible peso has its value pegged at 1:1 to the US dollar. In 2004, the US dollar was no longer accepted in Cuba and the convertible peso was the only option left for businesses to conduct trade in. This was done in retaliation to US sanctions on the country. In 2013, the government announced its intentions to discontinue use of the Cuban convertible peso and use only the Cuban peso.

Cuban Peso

The Cuban peso is informally referred to as the “national currency” to distinguish it from the Cuban convertible peso. Convertible pesos are 25 times more valuable than the peso, but the peso is more widely used. The use of pesos date back to 1857 during Spanish rule. The currency was only available in banknotes and its value pegged to the dollar at a ratio of 1:1. Coins were later introduced in 1915. The pegging of the peso to the US dollar was replaced by the Soviet ruble in 1960. Today, the peso is found in both coins and notes.


The first peso coins were minted in 1915 and made from cupro-nickel, silver, and gold. The cupro-nickel coins came in denominations of 1, 2, and 5 centavos (cents), silver coins were made in 10, 20, and 40 centavos and 1 peso, while gold coins came in denominations of 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 10, and 20 pesos. Other commemorative coins were minted, including the brass 1 and 5 centavos, which were issued in 1943.


Cuban banknotes came into circulation before the introduction of coins. They were introduced in denominations of 50 cents, 1, 5, 10, 50, 500, and 1,000 pesos, taking over from the Cuban dollars which were initially in circulation. In 1872, other bank notes in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1 and 3 pesos were introduced. The banknotes currently in circulation come in denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 200, 500, and 1000 pesos. The obverse side of Cuban notes feature images of important Cuban Nationals, like Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, Frank Pais and Julio Mella.

Exchange Rates

The exchange rate of the Cuban convertible peso is at par with the US dollar. However, the national currency, the Cuban peso, is much less valuable. 25 pesos can be exchanged for one US dollar.

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