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  Countries that use the US dollar
  Countries or territories that use a non-US currency named dollar
  Countries that formerly used a dollar currency
The Joachimsthaler of the Kingdom of Bohemia was the first thaler (dollar).

Dollar is the name of more than 25 currencies. The United States dollar, named after the international currency known as the Spanish dollar, was established in 1792 and is the first so named that still survives. Others include the Australian dollar, Brunei dollar, Canadian dollar, Eastern Caribbean dollar, Hong Kong dollar, Jamaican dollar, Liberian dollar, Namibian dollar, New Taiwan dollar, New Zealand dollar, Singapore dollar, Trinidad and Tobago Dollar and several others. The symbol for most of those currencies is the dollar sign $ in the same way as many countries using peso currencies. The name "dollar" originates from Bohemia and a 29 g silver-coin called the Joachimsthaler.

Economies that use a "dollar"[edit]

Currency ISO 4217 code Country or territory Established Preceding currency
Eastern Caribbean dollar XCD  Antigua and Barbuda 1965 British West Indies dollar
Australian dollar AUD  Australia and its territories 1966 Australian pound 1910-1966
Pound sterling 1825-1910
Bahamian dollar BSD  Bahamas 1966 Bahamian pound
Barbadian dollar BBD  Barbados 1972 Eastern Caribbean dollar
Belize dollar BZD  Belize 1973 British Honduran dollar
Bermudian dollar BMD  Bermuda 1970 Pound sterling
Brunei dollar

(Alongside the Singapore dollar)



 Brunei 1967 Malaya and British Borneo dollar
Canadian dollar CAD  Canada 1858 Spanish dollar pre-1841
Canadian pound 1841–1858
Newfoundland dollar 1865–1949 in the Dominion of Newfoundland
Cayman Islands dollar KYD  Cayman Islands 1972 Jamaican dollar
Eastern Caribbean dollar XCD  Dominica 1965 British West Indies dollar
Fijian dollar FJD  Fiji 1969 Fijian pound
Eastern Caribbean dollar XCD  Grenada 1965 British West Indies dollar
Guyanese dollar GYD  Guyana 1839 Eastern Caribbean dollar
Hong Kong dollar HKD  Hong Kong 1863 Rupee, Real (Spanish/Colonial Spain: Mexican), Chinese cash
Jamaican dollar JMD  Jamaica 1969 Jamaican pound
Kiribati dollar along with the Australian dollar KID / AUD  Kiribati 1979 Australian dollar
Liberian dollar LRD  Liberia 1937 United States dollar
Namibian dollar along with the South African rand NAD/ZAR  Namibia 1993 South African rand
Australian dollar AUD  Nauru 1966
New Zealand dollar NZD  New Zealand and its territories and dependencies 1967 New Zealand pound
Eastern Caribbean dollar XCD  Saint Kitts and Nevis 1965
Eastern Caribbean dollar XCD  Saint Lucia
Eastern Caribbean dollar XCD  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Singapore dollar

(Alongside the Brunei dollar)



 Singapore 1967 Malaya and British Borneo dollar
Solomon Islands dollar SBD  Solomon Islands 1977 Australian pound
Surinamese dollar SRD  Suriname 2004 Surinamese guilder
New Taiwan dollar TWD  Taiwan 1949 Old Taiwan dollar
Trinidad and Tobago dollar TTD  Trinidad and Tobago 1964 British West Indies dollar
Tuvaluan dollar along with the Australian dollar TVD / AUD  Tuvalu 1976
United States dollar USD  United States and its territories 1792 Spanish dollar
Colonial scrip

Other countries that use "United States dollar"[edit]

Country or territory Established Preceding currency
 East Timor 2002 Indonesian rupiah
 Ecuador 2001 Ecuadorian sucre
 El Salvador 2001 Salvadoran colón
 Marshall Islands
 Federated States of Micronesia

Other territories that use a "dollar"[edit]

Territory Currency
 Anguilla Eastern Caribbean dollar
 Bonaire (Netherlands) US dollar
 British Indian Ocean Territory US dollar (alongside the pound sterling)
 British Virgin Islands US dollar
 Montserrat Eastern Caribbean dollar
 Saba (Netherlands) US dollar
 Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France) Canadian dollar (alongside the euro)
 Sint Eustatius (Netherlands) US dollar
 Turks and Caicos Islands US dollar

Countries unofficially accepting "dollars"[edit]

Country Currency
 Afghanistan US dollar
 Macau Hong Kong dollar
 Maldives US dollar
 North Korea[7]

Countries and regions that have previously used a "dollar" currency[edit]

One Sarawak dollar from 1935, featuring Charles Vyner Brooke, the 3rd and last White Rajah of Sarawak



On 15 January 1520, the Kingdom of Bohemia began minting coins from silver mined locally in Joachimsthal and marked on reverse with the Bohemian lion. The coins would be named Joachimsthaler after the town, becoming shortened in common usage to thaler or taler. The town itself derived its name from Saint Joachim, coupled with the German word Thal (Tal in modern spelling) means 'valley' (cf. the English term dale).[11]

This name found its way into other languages, for example:[12]

In contrast to other languages which adopted the second part of word joachimsthaler, the first part found its way into Russian language and became efimok [ru], yefimok (ефимок).[13]

The predecessor of the Joachimsthaler was the Guldengroschen or Guldiner which was a large silver coin originally minted in Tirol in 1486, but which was introduced into the Duchy of Saxony in 1500. The King of Bohemia wanted a similar silver coin which then became the Joachimsthaler.

Europe and colonial North America[edit]

The Spanish dollar, natively called Peso, was the main coin of the Spanish Empire, this coin is from 1739.

The Joachimsthaler of the 16th century was succeeded by the longer-lived Reichsthaler of the Holy Roman Empire, used from the 16th to 19th centuries. The Netherlands also introduced its own dollars in the 16th century: the Burgundian Cross Thaler (Bourgondrische Kruisdaalder), the German-inspired Rijksdaalder, and the Dutch liondollar (leeuwendaalder). The latter coin was used for Dutch trade in the Middle East, in the Dutch East Indies and West Indies, and in the Thirteen Colonies of North America.[14]

For the English North American colonists, however, the Spanish peso or "piece of eight" has always held first place, and this coin was also called the "dollar" as early as 1581. Spanish dollars or "pieces of eight" were distributed widely in the Spanish colonies in the New World and in the Philippines.[15][16][17][18][19]

Origins of the dollar sign[edit]

The sign is first attested in business correspondence in the 1770s as a scribal abbreviation "ps", referring to the Spanish American peso,[20][21] that is, the "Spanish dollar" as it was known in British North America. These late 18th- and early 19th-century manuscripts show that the s gradually came to be written over the p developing a close equivalent to the "$" mark, and this new symbol was retained to refer to the American dollar as well, once this currency was adopted in 1785 by the United States.[22][23][24][25][26]

Adoption by the United States[edit]

By the time of the American Revolution, the Spanish dólar gained significance because they backed paper money authorized by the individual colonies and the Continental Congress.[16] Because Britain deliberately withheld hard currency from the American colonies, virtually all the non-token coinage in circulation was Spanish (and to a much lesser extent French and Dutch) silver, obtained via illegal but widespread commerce with the West Indies. Common in the Thirteen Colonies, Spanish dólar were even legal tender in one colony, Virginia.

On 2 April 1792, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton reported to Congress the precise amount of silver found in Spanish dollar coins in common use in the states. As a result, the United States dollar was defined[27] as a unit of pure silver weighing 371 4/16th grains (24.057 grams), or 416 grains of standard silver (standard silver being defined as 371.25/416 in silver, and balance in alloy).[28] It was specified that the "money of account" of the United States should be expressed in those same "dollars" or parts thereof. Additionally, all lesser-denomination coins were defined as percentages of the dollar coin, such that a half-dollar was to contain half as much silver as a dollar, quarter-dollars would contain one-fourth as much, and so on.

In an act passed in January 1837, the dollar's weight was reduced to 412.5 grains and alloy at 90% silver, resulting in the same fine silver content of 371.25 grains. On 21 February 1853, the quantity of silver in the lesser coins was reduced, with the effect that their denominations no longer represented their silver content relative to dollar coins.

Various acts have subsequently been passed affecting the amount and type of metal in U.S. coins, so that today there is no legal definition of the term "dollar" to be found in U.S. statute.[29][30][31] Currently the closest thing[clarification needed] to a definition is found in United States Code Title 31, Section 5116, paragraph b, subsection 2: "The Secretary [of the Treasury] shall sell silver under conditions the Secretary considers appropriate for at least $1.292929292 a fine troy ounce."

Silver was mostly removed from U.S. coinage by 1965 and the dollar became a free-floating fiat money without a commodity backing defined in terms of real gold or silver. The US Mint continues to make silver $1-denomination coins, but these are not intended for general circulation.

Relationship to the troy pound[edit]

The quantity of silver chosen in 1792 to correspond to one dollar, namely, 371.25 grains of pure silver, is very close to the geometric mean of one troy pound and one pennyweight. In what follows, "dollar" will be used as a unit of mass. A troy pound being 5760 grains and a pennyweight being 240 times smaller, or 24 grains, the geometric mean is, to the nearest hundredth, 371.81 grains. This means that the ratio of a pound to a dollar (15.52) roughly equals the ratio of a dollar to a pennyweight (15.47). These ratios are also very close to the ratio of a gram to a grain: 15.43. Finally, in the United States, the ratio of the value of gold to the value of silver in the period from 1792 to 1873 averaged to about 15.5, being 15 from 1792 to 1834 and around 16 from 1834 to 1873. This is also nearly the value of the gold to silver ratio determined by Isaac Newton in 1717.[32]

That these three ratios are all approximately equal has some interesting consequences. Let the gold to silver ratio be exactly 15.5. Then a pennyweight of gold, that is 24 grains of gold, is nearly equal in value to a dollar of silver (1 dwt of gold = $1.002 of silver). Second, a dollar of gold is nearly equal in value to a pound of silver ($1 of gold = 5754 3/8 grains of silver = 0.999 Lb of silver). Third, the number of grains in a dollar (371.25) roughly equals the number of grams in a troy pound (373.24).

Usage in the United Kingdom[edit]

There are two quotes in the plays of William Shakespeare referring to dollars as money. Coins known as "thistle dollars" were in use in Scotland during the 16th and 17th centuries,[33] and use of the English word, and perhaps even the use of the coin, may have begun at the University of St Andrews[34] This might be supported by a reference to the sum of "ten thousand dollars" in Macbeth (act I, scene II) (an anachronism because the real Macbeth, upon whom the play was based, lived in the 11th century). In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Man with the Twisted Lip" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1891, an Englishman posing as a London beggar describes the shillings and pounds he collected as dollars.[citation needed]

In 1804, a British five-shilling piece, or crown, was sometimes called "dollar". It was an overstruck Spanish eight real coin (the famous "piece of eight"), the original of which was known as a Spanish dollar. Large numbers of these eight-real coins were captured during the Napoleonic Wars, hence their re-use by the Bank of England. They remained in use until 1811.[35][36] During World War II, when the U.S. dollar was (approximately) valued at five shillings, the half crown (2s 6d) acquired the nickname "half dollar" or "half a dollar" in the UK.

Usage elsewhere[edit]

Chinese demand for silver in the 19th and early 20th centuries led several countries, notably the United Kingdom, United States and Japan, to mint trade dollars, which were often of slightly different weights from comparable domestic coinage. Silver dollars reaching China (whether Spanish, trade, or other) were often stamped with Chinese characters known as "chop marks", which indicated that that particular coin had been assayed by a well-known merchant and deemed genuine.

Other national currencies called "dollar"[edit]

A New Zealand one-dollar coin
500 old Zimbabwean dollar bill of the first Zimbabwean dollar
A special agro-cheque for 100 billion dollars, during the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe

Prior to 1873, the silver dollar circulated in many parts of the world, with a value in relation to the British gold sovereign of roughly $1 = 4s 2d (21p approx). As a result of the decision of the German Empire to stop minting silver thaler coins in 1871, in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, the worldwide price of silver began to fall.[37] This resulted in the U.S. Coinage Act (1873) which put the United States onto a 'de facto' gold standard. Canada and Newfoundland were already on the gold standard, and the result was that the value of the dollar in North America increased in relation to silver dollars being used elsewhere, particularly Latin America and the Far East. By 1900, value of silver dollars had fallen to 50 percent of gold dollars. Following the abandonment of the gold standard by Canada in 1931, the Canadian dollar began to drift away from parity with the U.S. dollar. It returned to parity a few times, but since the end of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates that was agreed to in 1944, the Canadian dollar has been floating against the U.S. dollar. The silver dollars of Latin America and South East Asia began to diverge from each other as well during the course of the 20th century. The Straits dollar adopted a gold exchange standard in 1906 after it had been forced to rise in value against other silver dollars in the region. Hence, by 1935, when China and Hong Kong came off the silver standard, the Straits dollar was worth 2s 4d (11.5p approx) sterling, whereas the Hong Kong dollar was worth only 1s 3d sterling (6p approx).

The term "dollar" has also been adopted by other countries for currencies which do not share a common history with other dollars. Many of these currencies adopted the name after moving from a £sd-based to a decimalized monetary system. Examples include the Australian dollar, the New Zealand dollar, the Jamaican dollar, the Cayman Islands dollar, the Fiji dollar, the Namibian dollar, the Rhodesian dollar, the Zimbabwe dollar, and the Solomon Islands dollar.

  • The tala is based on the Samoan pronunciation of the word "dollar".
  • The Slovenian tolar had the same etymological origin as dollar (that is, thaler).
  • The Swedish Daler used to be the name for the currency and have the same etymological origin as the German thaler).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Torres, Andrea (17 July 2020). "Cuba to accept U.S. dollars at government stores". Local 10.
  2. ^ Estrada, Oscar Fernandez (8 November 2019). "Return to the US Dollar in Cuba: What about the CUC?". Havana Times.
  3. ^ Kornbluh, Peter. "Cuba Is Getting Rid of the CUC". Cigar Aficionado.
  4. ^ "Can I Use U.s. Dollars To Make Purchases In Cuba?". Insight Cuba. Archived from the original on 2021-01-25. Retrieved 2021-02-08.
  5. ^ Robinson, Circles (30 August 2020). "US Dollar Taking Over in Cuba as CUC Plummets". Havana Times.
  6. ^ Wojtanik, Andrew (2005). Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society. p. 147.
  7. ^ Lankov, Andrei (2015). The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-19-939003-8.
  8. ^ Although called Panamanian balboas, US dollars circulate as official currency, since there are no Balboa bills, only coins that are the same size, weight and value as their US counterparts.
  9. ^ Adopted for all official government transactions
  10. ^ Hungwe, Brian. "Zimbabwe’s multi-currency confusion", BBC News, Harare, 6 February 2014. Retrieved on 5 November 2016.
  11. ^ Welcome to Jáchymov: the Czech town that invented the dollar. The tiny town of Jáchymov was just named one of Unesco's newest World Heritage sites Five hundred years after coining the first dollar, a tiny mining town is coming to grips with the many ways it shaped the modern world.
  12. ^ "Why Is The Dollar Sign A Letter S?". Observation Deck. Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2015-02-09.
  13. ^ "Талер, доллар, ефимок — Троицкий вариант — Наука". 20 June 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Lion Dollar - Introduction".
  15. ^ Rabushka, Alvin (16 December 2010). Taxation in Colonial America. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1400828708. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  16. ^ a b Julian, R.W. (2007). "All About the Dollar". Numismatist: 41. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Cross, Bill (2012). Dollar Default: How the Federal Reserve and the Government Betrayed Your Trust. pp. 17–18. ISBN 9781475261080.
  18. ^ National Geographic. June 2002. p. 1. Ask Us.
  19. ^ Vries, Jan de; Woude, Ad van der (28 May 1997). The First Modern Economy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521578257. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  20. ^ Lawrence Kinnaird (July 1976). "The Western Fringe of Revolution," The Western Historical Quarterly 7(3), 259. JSTOR 967081
  21. ^ "Origin of Dollar Sign is Traced to Mexico", Popular Science, 116 (2): 59, 1930, ISSN 0161-7370
  22. ^ Florian Cajori ([1929]1993). A History of Mathematical Notations (Vol. 2), 15-29.
  23. ^ Arthur S. Aiton and Benjamin W. Wheeler (May 1931). "The First American Mint", The Hispanic American Historical Review 11(2), 198 and note 2 on 198. JSTOR 2506275
  24. ^ Nussbaum, Arthur (1957). A History of the Dollar. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 56.
  25. ^ Riesco Terrero, Ángel (1983). Diccionario de abreviaturas hispanas de los siglos XIII al XVIII: Con un apendice de expresiones y formulas juridico-diplomaticas de uso corriente. Salamanca: Imprenta Varona, 350. ISBN 84-300-9090-8
  26. ^ Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "'What is the origin of the $ sign?' in FAQ Library". Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  27. ^ Act of April 2, A.D. 1792 of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, Section 9.
  28. ^ Section 13 of the Act.
  29. ^ United States Statutes at Large.
  30. ^ Yeoman, RS (1965). A Guide Book of United States Coins.
  31. ^ Ewart, James E. Money — Ye shall have honest weights and measures.
  32. ^ International Monetary Conference Held . . . in Paris in August 1878. 1879.
  33. ^ Herbert Appold Grueber (January 1999). Handbook of the Coins of Great Britain and Ireland in the British Museum. Adegi Graphics LLC. ISBN 9781402110900.
  34. ^ Michael, T.R.B. Turnbull (30 July 2009). "Saint Andrew". BBC. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  35. ^ All Things Austen: An Encyclopedia of Austen's World ISBN 0-313-33034-4 p. 444
  36. ^ "The Coinage of Britain - Milled Coins 1662-1816". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  37. ^ "Monetary Madhouse, Charles Savoie, 2005". Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-03-25.

External links[edit]