Colombian Currency

The peso is the currency of Colombia. Its ISO 4217 code is COP. The official peso symbol is $, with COL$ also being used to distinguish it from other peso-denominated currencies.

The peso has been the currency of Colombia since 1810. It replaced the real at a rate of 1 peso = 8 reales and was initially subdivided into 8 reales. In 1847, Colombia decimalized and the peso was subdivided into ten reales, each of 10 décimos de reales. The real was renamed the decimo in 1853, although the last reales were struck in 1880. The current system of 100 centavos to the peso was first used in 1819 on early banknotes but did not reappear until the early 1860s on banknotes and was not used on the coinage until 1872.

In 1871, Colombia went on the gold standard, pegging the peso to the French franc at a rate of 1 peso = 5 francs. This peg only lasted until 1886. From 1888, printing press inflation caused Colombia’s paper money (pegged to the British pound at a rate of 5 pesos = 1 pound) to depreciate and the exchange rate between coins and paper money was fixed at 100 peso moneda corriente = 1 coinage peso. Between 1907 and 1914, coins were issued denominated in “peso p/m”, equal to paper pesos. In 1910, the Junta de Conversión began issuing paper money and, in 1915, a new paper currency was introduced, the peso oro. This was equal to the coinage peso and replaced the old peso notes at a rate of 100 old paper pesos = 1 peso oro. In 1931, when the U.K. left the gold standard, Colombia shifted its peg to the U.S. dollar, at a rate of 1.05 pesos = 1 dollar, a slight devaluation from its previous peg.

Although it never appeared on coins, Colombia’s banknotes continued to be issued denominated in peso oro until 1993, when the word oro was dropped. Since 2001, the Colombian Senate has debated whether to redenominate the currency by introducing a new peso worth 1000 old pesos, in other words, to remove three zeroes from its face value. Such a plan has yet to be adopted. However, the family of banknotes introduced in 2016 have the last three zeroes replaced by the word “mil” (thousand), making the value easier to read.