The bolivar is the official currency of Venezuela, replacing the currency known as “venezolano” in 1879. The authority in charge of this currency is the Central Bank of Venezuela.
Origins and history
The first coins seen in Venezuela were introduced by the Spanish conquerors in 1498.
Due to the scarcity of metallic coins and the small production of objects for sale, in the XVI century, pearls were used as a means of payment. The value was given according to the weight of the pearl. These pearls came mainly from the islands of Cubagua and Margarita. The Cabildo of Caracas resolved that the pearls of Margarita would be the legal tender, and they did so, between 1589 and 1620.
In 1787 the King Carlos III ordered to mint silver coins to be used in Venezuela and the Antillean Islands, with values of 0.5 and 2 reals, manufactured in the Casa de Moneda in Mexico. They entered into circulation in 1788.
During the Independence, different currencies were created, the first of them being the peso venezolano in 1811.
After several political changes, in 1876 a single currency was created in the country, called the “venezolano” and replaced by the bolivar in 1879. The first currency was issued in 1876, designed by French engraver with the portrait of Simón Bolívar in the obverse and the coat of arms of the Republic of Venezuela in the reverse side. This design has been kept until today with just a few changes.
Regarding the national mint, the first one was open in 1886 by the president Antonio Guzmán Blanco under the name Casa de la Moneda de Caracas (Minting House of Caracas). Later on, this facility was closed and the country depended on the coins and notes manufactured in England, the United States, Germany and Denmark.
In order to reduce costs and print banknotes, coins and other payment documents within the country, the current headquarters of the Casa de la Moneda were built in the city of Maracay, in the state of Aragua. Starting operations in 1999, the Casa de la Moneda now includes its own logo in the official designs.
Current Venezuelan bolivar coins and banknotes
Currently, there are coins of 1, 5, 10, 12.5, 25 and 50 cents and 1 bolivar in circulation. Coins are circular and in the obverse, the denomination is shown, as well as the 8 stars of the Venezuelan flag and the waves, representing the bands of the national flag. In the reverse, the national coat of arms in shown and the name of the minting country, except for the coin of 1 bolivar, which bears the portrait of Simón Bolívar in the obverse and the denomination, the coat of arms and the inscription “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” in the reverse side.
Regarding banknotes, there are 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 bolivar banknotes.
Interesting facts of the Venezuelan bolivar
- The first coins with the name “Republic of Venezuela” on it arrived to the country in 1844 and they were cents, half-cents and quarters of cent made in copper, minted by England.
- Standard size of the banknotes is 156x69 mm and they feature in the obverse the portrait of some national hero, and in the reverse some pattern of local fauna.