Chilean peso

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Chilean peso
Peso chileno  (Spanish)
ISO 4217
Code CLP
Symbol Cifrão symbol.svg or $
Banknotes 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 pesos
Coins 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 pesos
User(s)  Chile
Central bank Banco Central de Chile
Mint Casa de Moneda
Inflation 3.0%
 Source 2013 (INE/Central Bank)

The peso is the currency of Chile. The current peso has circulated since 1975, with a previous version circulating between 1817 and 1960. Its symbol is defined as a letter S with either one or two vertical bars superimposed prefixing the amount,[1] $ or Cifrão symbol.svg; the single-bar symbol, available in most modern text systems, is almost always used. Both of these symbols are used by many currencies, most notably the US dollar, and may be ambiguous without clarification such as CLP$ or US$. The ISO 4217 code for the present peso is CLP. It is officially subdivided into 100 centavos, although there are no current centavo-denominated coins. The exchange rate was around CLP$600 to 1 U.S. dollar at the end of 2014; by August 2015 it fell to 694 per 1 US dollar.

First peso, 1817–1960[edit]

The first Chilean peso was introduced in 1817, at a value of 8 Spanish colonial reales. Until 1851, the peso was subdivided into 8 reales, with the escudo worth 2 pesos. In 1835, copper coins denominated in centavos were introduced but it was not until 1851 that the real and escudo denominations ceased to be issued and further issues in centavos and décimos (worth 10 centavos) commenced. Also in 1851, the peso was set equal 5 French francs on the sild, 22.5 grams pure silver. However, gold coins were issued to a different standard to that of France, with 1 peso = 1.37 grams gold (5 francs equalled 1.45 grams gold). In 1885, a gold standard was adopted, pegging the peso to the British pound at a rate of 13⅓ pesos = 1 pound (1 peso = 1 shilling 6 pence). This was reduced in 1926 to 40 pesos = 1 pound (1 peso = 6 pence). From 1925, coins and banknotes were issued denominated in cóndores, worth 10 pesos. The gold standard was suspended in 1932 and the peso's value fell further. The escudo replaced the peso on 1 January 1960 at a rate 1 escudo = 1000 pesos.


Between 1817 and 1851, silver coins were issued in denominations of ¼, ½, 1 and 2 reales and 1 peso (also denominated 8 reales), with gold coins for 1, 2, 4 and 8 escudos. In 1835, copper ½ and 1 centavo coins were issued. A full decimal coinage was introduced between 1851 and 1853, consisting of copper ½ and 1 centavo, silver ½ and 1 décimo, 20 and 50 centavos, and 1 peso, and gold 5 and 10 pesos. In 1860, gold 1 peso coins were introduced, followed by cupro-nickel ½, 1 and 2 centavos between 1870 and 1871. Copper coins for these denominations were reintroduced between 1878 and 1883, with copper 2½ centavos added in 1886. A new gold coinage was introduced in 1895, reflecting the lower gold standard, with coins for 2, 5, 10 and 20 pesos. In 1896, the ½ and 1 décimo were replaced by 5 and 10 centavo coins.

In 1907, a short-lived, silver 40 centavo coin was introduced following cessation of production of the 50 centavo coin. In 1919, the last of the copper coins (1 and 2 centavos) were issued. The following year, cu pro-nickel replaced silver in the 5, 10 and 20 centavo coins. A final gold coinage was introduced in 1926, in denominations of 20, 50 and 100 pesos. In 1927, silver 2 and 5 peso coins were issued. Cu pro-nickel 1 peso coins were introduced in 1933, replacing the last of the silver coins. In 1942, copper 20 and 50 centavos and 1 peso coins were introduced. The last coins of the first peso were issued between 1954 and 1959. These were aluminum 1, 5 and 10 pesos.


The first Chilean paper money was issued between 1840 and 1844 by the treasury of the Province of Valdivia, in denominations of 4 and 8 reales. In the 1870s, a number of private banks began issuing paper money, including the Banco Agrícola, the Banco de la Alianza, the Banco de Concepción, the Banco Consolidado de Chile, the Banco de A. Edwards y Cía., the Banco de Escobar, Ossa y Cía., the Banco Mobiliario, the Banco Nacional de Chile, the Banco del Pobre, the Banco Sud Americano, the Banco del Sur, the Banco de la Unión and the Banco de Valparaíso. Others followed in the 1880s and 1890s. Denominations included 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 pesos. One bank, the Banco de A. Edwards y Cía., also issued notes denominated in pounds sterling (libra esterlina).

In 1881, the government issued paper money convertible into silver or gold, in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000 pesos. 50 centavo notes were added in 1891 and 500 pesos in 1912. In 1898, provisional issues were made by the government, consisting of private bank notes overprinted with the words "Emisión Fiscal". This marked the end of the production of private paper money.

In 1925, the Banco Central de Chile began issuing notes. The first, in denominations of 5, 10, 50, 100 and 1000 pesos, were overprints on government notes. In 1927, notes marked as "Billete Provisional" were issued in denominations of 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 pesos. Regular were introduced between 1931 and 1933, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 pesos. The 1 and 20 peso notes stopped production in 1943 and 1947, respectively. The remaining denominations continued production until 1959, with a 50,000 peso note added in 1958.

Chilean escudo, 1960–1975[edit]

Chilean peso
escudo chileno  (Spanish)
ISO 4217
Code CLE
 1/100 centésimo
Banknotes 500, 1000, 5000, 10 000 Escudos
Coins 10, 50, 100 escudos
User(s) Chile
Central bank Banco Central de Chile
Mint Casa de Moneda
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The escudo was the currency of Chile between 1960 and 1975, divided into 100 centésimos. It replaced the (old) peso at a rate of 1 escudo = 1000 pesos and was itself replaced by a new peso, at a rate of 1 peso = 1000 escudos. The symbol Eº was used for the escudo.

Note also that Chile issued gold escudos, worth 16 reales or 2 pesos until 1851.


In 1960, aluminium 1 centésimo and aluminium-bronze 2, 5 and 10 centésimo coins were introduced, followed by aluminium ½ centésimo in 1962. In 1971, a new coinage was introduced, consisting of aluminium-bronze 10, 20 and 50 centésimos and cupro-nickel 1, 2 and 5 escudos. This coinage was issued for two years, with aluminium 5 escudos produced in 1972. In 1974 and 1975, aluminium 10 escudos and nickel-brass 50 and 100 escudos were issued.


In 1959, provisional banknotes were produced by the Banco Central de Chile. These were modified versions of the old peso notes, with the centésimo or escudo denomination added to the design. Denominations were ½, 1, 5, 10 and 50 centésimos, 1, 5, 10 and 50 escudos. Regular-type notes were introduced in 1962 in denominations of ½, 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 escudos. In 1971, 500 escudo notes were introduced, followed by 1000 escudos and 5000 escudos in 1973 (depicting José Miguel Carrera) and 10,000 escudos in 1974 (depicting an unusual portrait of Bernardo O'Higgins).

Second peso, 1975–present[edit]

Chilean notes currently in circulation.
Coins of the Chilean peso in circulation.

The current peso was introduced on 29 September 1975 by decree 1,123, replacing the escudo at a rate of 1 peso for 1,000 escudos. This peso was subdivided into 100 centavos until 1984.


In 1975, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 50 centavos and 1 peso. The 1-, 5-, and 10-centavo coins were very similar to the 10-, 50-, and 100-escudo coins they replaced. Since 1983, inflation has left the centavo coins obsolete. Five- and 10-peso coins were introduced in 1976, followed by 50- and 100-peso coins in 1981 and by a 500-peso coin in 2000. Coins currently in circulation are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 pesos; however, as of 2016 the value of the peso has depreciated enough that most retailers and others tend to use prices that are multiples of 10 pesos, ignoring smaller amounts. The 1 peso coin is rare.

Right after the military dictatorship in Chile (1973–1990) ended, the obverse designs of the 5- and 10-peso coins were changed. Those coins had borne the image of a winged female figure wearing a classical robe and portrayed as if she had just broken a chain binding her two hands together (a length of chain could be seen hanging from each of her wrists); beside her appear the date of the coup d'état Roman numerals and the word LIBERTAD (Spanish for "liberty"). After the return of democracy, a design with the portrait of Bernardo O'Higgins was adopted.

In 2001, a newly redesigned 100-peso coin bearing the image of a Mapuche woman began to circulate. In February, 2010, it was discovered that on the 2008 series of the 50-peso coins the country name "CHILE" had been misspelled as "CHIIE". The national mint said that it did not plan to recall the coins. Worth about 9 cents (US) each at the time, the faulty coins became collectors' items.[2]


In 1976, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 5, 10, 50, and 100 pesos with the reverses of the three lowest denominations resembling those of the Eº 5,000, 10,000, and 50,000 notes they replaced. Inflation has since led to the issue of much higher denominations. Five-hundred-peso notes were introduced in May, 1977, followed by thousand-peso (in June, 1978), 5,000-peso (June, 1981), 10,000-peso (June, 1989), 2,000-peso (December, 1997), and 20,000-peso (December, 1998) notes. The 5-, 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-peso banknotes have been replaced by coins, leaving only the 1,000-, 2,000-, 5,000-, 10,000-, and 20,000-peso notes in circulation. Redesigned versions of the four highest denominations were emitted in 2009 and 2010. The popular new 1,000-peso banknote was issued on 11 May 2011.[3]

Since September 2004, the 2,000-peso note has been emitted only as a polymer banknote; the 5,000-peso note began emission in polymer in September, 2009; and the 1,000-peso note was switched to polymer in May, 2011. This was the first time in Chilean history that a new family of banknotes was put into circulation for other cause than the effects of inflation. As of January 2012, only the 10,000- and 20,000-peso notes are still printed on cotton paper. All new notes have the same 70-mm height, while their length varies in 7-mm steps according to their values: the shortest is the 1,000-peso note and the longest is the 20,000-peso.[4] The new notes are substantially more difficult to falsify because of new security measures.

The design and production of the whole new family of banknotes was assigned to the Australian company Note Printing Australia Ltd for the 1,000-, 2,000- and 5,000-peso notes. and the Swedish company Crane AB for the 10,000- and 20,000-peso notes [3]

In popular culture[edit]

Colloquial Chilean Spanish has informal names for some banknotes and coins. These include luca for a thousand pesos, quina for five hundred pesos (quinientos is Spanish for "five hundred"), and gamba for one hundred pesos (can also apply to 100 000 pesos). These names are old: for example gamba and luca applied to 100 and 1000 escudos before 1975.

Also, some banknotes are called informally by the name of the notable citizen printed on it. For example, the five thousand-peso banknote is sometimes called a gabriela, for Gabriela Mistral, the ten thousand-peso banknote arturo or arturito (little Arturo) for Arturo Prat; the one thousand-peso note is frequently referred as luca, meaning a thousand, therefore, the two thousand-peso note can be referred as two lucas note, five thousand-peso note as five lucas note, ten thousand as ten lucas note, 1 million pesos as a guatón (fat or pot-bellied man) or palo (stick), and so on.

It is interesting to note that, depending on context, a gamba might mean one hundred pesos or one hundred thousand pesos. For instance a new computer might be said to cost two gambas. It is obvious that this means two hundred thousand pesos. Less commonly, this applies to luca, taken to mean one million.

Value of the peso against the US dollar[edit]

Current Chilean pesos per US dollar (1975–2011). Note: The chart shows averages for the year as well as monthly averages from 1984 onwards.
Average value of US$1[5]
Date Chilean pesos
May 2017 671.54
April 2017 655.74
March 2017 661.20
February 2017 643.21
January 2017 661.19
December 2016 667.17
November 2016 666.12
October 2016 663.92
September 2016 668.63
August 2016 658.89
July 2016 657.57
June 2016 681.07
12-month average 663.02
2016 676.83
2015 654.25
2014 570.01
2013 495.00
2012 486.75
2011 483.36
2010 510.38
2005 559.86
2000 538.87
1995 396.78
1990 304.68
1985 160.73

Between 1974 and 1979, the Chilean peso was allowed to float within a crawling band.[6] From June 1979 to 1982 the peso was pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate.[7] In June 1982 —during that year's economic crisis— the peso was devalued and different exchange rate regimes were used.[6][8] In August 1984 the peso returned to a system of crawling bands, which were periodically adjusted to reflect differences between external and internal inflation.[8]

Starting in September 1999, the Chilean peso was allowed to float freely against the US dollar for the first time. Chile's Central Bank —however— reserved the right to intervene, which it did on two occasions to counter "excessive depreciation." First, in August and September 2001, coinciding with Argentina's convertibility crisis and with the September 11 attacks in the United States, and in October 2002, during Brazil's presidential election.[9]

Current CLP exchange rates

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ley Chile Móvil". (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 December 2015.  "Su símbolo será la letra S sobrepuesta con una o dos líneas verticales y se antepondrá a su expresión numérica."
  2. ^ "Chilean mint spells country's name wrong on coins". The Daily Telegraph ( 12 February 2010. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  3. ^ a b "Banco Central lanzó nuevo billete de $1.000 y anunció que entrará en circulación el 11 de mayo | Negocios". La Tercera. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Nuevos Billetes". Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  5. ^ "Tipos de cambio – Dólar observado". Central Bank of Chile (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Roberto Toso C. (April 1983). "El tipo de cambio fijo en Chile: la experiencia en el período 1979–1982" (PDF). Serie de Estudios Económicos (in Spanish). Central Bank of Chile. 
  7. ^ José de Gregorio R.; Andrea Tokman R.; Rodrigo Valdés (August 2005). "Tipo de Cambio Flexible con Metas de Inflación en Chile: Experiencia y Temas de Interés" (PDF). Documentos de Política Económica Nº 14 – Agosto 2005 (in Spanish). Central Bank of Chile. 
  8. ^ a b Felipe Morandé L.; Matías Tapia G. (December 2002). "Política cambiaria en Chile: El abandono de la banda y la experiencia de flotación" (PDF). Economía Chilena Volumen 5 – Nº 3 / diciembre 2002 (in Spanish). Central Bank of Chile. 
  9. ^ José de Gregorio R.; Andrea Tokman R. (December 2005). "El 'miedo a flotar' y la política cambiaria en Chile" (PDF). Economía Chilena Volumen 8 – Nº 3 / diciembre 2005 (in Spanish). Central Bank of Chile. 


External links[edit]

First peso
Preceded by:
Spanish colonial real
Ratio: 8 reales = 1 peso
Currency of Chile
1817 – 31 December 1959
Succeeded by:
Chilean escudo
Ratio: 1 escudo = 1000 pesos
Second peso
Preceded by:
Chilean escudo
Ratio: 1 peso = 1000 escudos
Currency of Chile
1975 –
Succeeded by: