The Republic of Haiti is situated in the Caribbean Sea. It relies heavily on the agricultural sector for economic growth. In 2010, a chronic earthquake hit the country and paralyzed the economy, leading to an 8% drop in GDP. The banking sector in Haiti, which is the fastest developing sector in the economy because of its monetary policies, was able to propel economic growth by meeting the IMF debt write-off policy. Haiti's public debt totals $1.3 billion, $1 billion of which was written off, making the economy somewhat stable.
The official currency is the Haitian gourde, coded as HTG on the ISO 4712 currency code and denoted as G. All paper bills and coins are printed in the form of Haitian gourde. The Banque de la République prints and distributes the gourde in subunits of 100 centimes. In addition to the Haitian gourde, the US dollar and the Haitian dollar are also notable. The US dollar is commonly accepted as a medium of exchange in many businesses on the bays. The "Haitian dollar" does not physically exist, but is a concept of the Haitian people who believe that 1 Haitian dollar equals 5 Haitian gourde, a rate that has remained constant throughout history. This was as a result of pegging the US dollar to the gourde at a rate of 5:1.
History of the Haitian Gourde
The first Haitian gourde was introduced in Haiti in 1813 to replace the Haitian livre, which was a French colonial currency. The earliest Haitian gourde coins were introduced in 1827 and came in denominations of 50 and 100 centimes, followed by 1 and 2 centimes in 1828, and then 6¼ centimes in 1850. In 1863, the last coins of the first gourde were minted and distributed by the Mint of Birmingham. Banknotes were also printed in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 gourdes.
The gourde was officially revalued at the ratio of 10:1 in 1870. During this reevaluation, only banknotes worth 10 and 25 gourdes were issued. The second reevaluation occurred two years later in 1872, when the revaluation was done at 300:1. During this reevaluation, only banknotes were issued, with the majority dated 1885. In order to give the gourde a value in the international market, it was pegged to the French franc. However, in 1912, it was changed and pegged to the US dollar.
Coins were reintroduced in 1881 in a range of denominations including 1, 2, 10, 20, and 50 centimes. The production of coins ceased in 1890, but resumed in 1949 with the issuance of the 5 and 10 centimes coins and the 20 centimes in 1958, 50 centimes in 1972, and 1 and 5 gourde in 1995. Today, only the 50 centimes, and the 1 and 5 gourde coins are in circulation.
The minting of banknotes began in 1875 until 2004, with the 5 and 10 centimes, and later developments of banknotes in denominations of 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 gourde, which remain in circulation. Each denomination features the image of an historic symbol with special relevance to Haitian historic happenings.