The legal tender in Colombia, as well as in the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, is the Colombian peso. There are currently five different peso coins and 6 note denominations.
Origins and history
The Colombian peso is the official currency circulating in Colombia since 1810, the year in which it replaced the real, the legal tender until that date. After a series of changes, in 1871 Colombia adopted the gold standard, pegging the peso to the French franc on an exchange rate of one peso to five francs, a rate which was maintained until 1886.
In 1880 the president of the country, Rafael Núñez, created the Bank of the Republic of Colombia, which had, among other functions, the task of printing the paper money, which after 1888 suffered an accelerated inflation. After the First World War the country suffered a number of monetary problems, which led the president Pedro Nel Ospina to ask the United States of America for economic advice in 1922. The American experts set off on a mission famously called “the Kemmerer Mission”, led by Edwin Walter Kemmerer, under whose recommendations the current issuing authority was created in 1923: The Bank of the Republic (of Colombia).
In 1931, when the United Kingdom abandoned the gold standard, Colombia switched its link to the US dollar, on a rate of 1.05 pesos to 1 US dollar, with a slight devaluation compared to its former pegging. This pegging lasted until 1949, when the inflation of this currency put an end to this exchange rate.
The convertibility of Colombian pesos into gold came to an end in 1931. Despite all this, the banknotes issued by the Bank of the Republic continued bearing their denominations in golden pesos until 1993, when a lawsuit filed by ex-senator Pablo Victoria before the State Council caused the word “golden” and the phrase “will pay the bearer” to be removed from all banknotes.
Current Colombian peso Coins and Banknotes
Currently, there are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 peso coins in circulation.
Regarding banknotes, there are notes of:
- 1,000 pesos. The new design of this banknote was put into circulation on 17 November 2006, with a date of edition of 1 November 2005. These notes have the same design and identical general characteristics and security features as those of the previous series, dated 3rd March 2005, but they differ in size, going from 70x140 mm to 65x130 mm.
- 2,000 pesos. The new design of this banknote was put into circulation on 17 November 2006, with a date of edition of 7th March 2005. The design is the same as in the former series, dated 4 March 2005, but their size is different, going from 70x140 mm o 65x130 mm.
The front of this new note includes a special security feature to avoid counterfeiting, consisting in a design of very thin violet and green straight lines. Also, they carry a new security feature on the back formed by a design of dark yellow circular lines.
- 5,000 pesos. On 22 September 1995 the 5,000 peso notes were put into circulation, a series rendering homage to Colombian poet José Asunción Silva.
- 10,000 pesos. On 30th November 1995 the new 10,000 peso banknote was put into circulation, with which the Bank of the Republic rendered homage to the heroin of Colombian Independence, Policarpa Salavarrieta.
- 20,000 pesos. On 2nd December 1996 the new 20,000 peso banknote was put into circulation, rendering homage to one of the most important scientists in the country: Julio Garavito Armero.
- 50,000 pesos. With this edition of 50,000 Colombian pesos, the Bank of the Republic renders homage to the writer Jorge Isaacs, author of the novel “María”.
Interesting facts of the Colombian peso
- The Colombian peso remplaced the real in 1810.
- The Colombian currency suffered the only redenomination in its history with the creation of the "golden peso", on a rate of 100 pesos for 1 golden peso.
- Most of the design of the 50,000 Colombian peso banknote is displayed vertically, not horizontally, as with most other banknotes in the world.