What is the Currency of the Bahamas?

By Sharon Omondi on August 1 2017 in Economics

Bahamian dollar banknotes.

What is the Bahamian Currency?

The currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar. The Bahamian dollar has served as the country's official currency since 1996, is abbreviated as either $ or B$, and assigned code BSD. It exists in denominations of $1/2, $1, $3, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The Bahamian currency is minted by the Central Bank of the Bahamas. The Bahamian dollar is also used in Turks and Caicos Islands.

History of the Bahamian Dollar

The Bahamian dollar has not always been the currency of the Bahamas. Initially, the pound was used, until 1966 when it was replaced by the Bahamian dollar at a rate of 1 dollar to 7 shillings. The sterling to dollar rate was then fixed at £1 equal to $2.80 following the system of parity with the US dollar. The $3 bills and the 15 cent coins were minted during the transition from pounds to dollars to assist in decimalization.

Bahamian Coins

Coins were introduced in the Bahamas in 1966. Denominations included 1 and 2 dollars, and 50, 25, 15, 10, 5, and 1 cent coins. These were struck in nickel-brass, cupronickel, and silver. However, the silver coins were not circulated in the economy after 1966. The current Bahamian 1 cent coin is slightly smaller than a US dime. However, the 5 and 25 cent coins are equal in size with the 5 and 25 cent US coins, but have different metal compositions. All coins have the Bahamian Court of Arms inscribed on one side, while the reverse face contains objects of Bahamian culture, such as a pineapple, two bonefish, three starfish, hibiscus, and a native sloop. Bahamians portray great honor for their culture with these objects. It should be noted that the 15 cent, 50 cent, $1, $2, and $5 coins are seldom used.

Bahamian Banknotes

Bahamian banknotes were also introduced in 1966 in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 3, 1, and ½ dollars. The Bahamas Money Authority was responsible for issuing the banknotes starting in 1968, and after 1974 all banknotes were printed by the Central Bank of the Bahamas. The banknotes are equal in physical size to the US dollar notes. The Bahamian currency has experienced different changes in order to reduce problems of forgery. Most recently, the counterfeit-proof “Counterfeit Resistant Integrated Security Product (CRISP)” formula was introduced. All notes previously included the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, but then featured portraits of former Bahamian politicians. More recently, however, the portrait of the older Queen Elizabeth II has been reintroduced on the $10 and $100 banknotes. The current Bahamas dollar notes are dark green, mint green, or brown in color. They measure 156 mm long and 67 mm wide in size. Security features can include watermarks, security threads, see-through features of the Sand dollar, 100% cotton banknote paper, and latent images. Additionally, the $1/2, $3, and $100 dollar notes are rarely used today.

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