|Balboa Panameña (Spanish)|
|ISO 4217 code||PAB|
|Central bank||National Bank of Panama|
|User(s)||Panama (alongside the U.S. dollar)|
|Pegged with||U.S. dollar at par|
|Coins||1 & 5 centésimos, 1⁄10, 1⁄4, 1⁄2, 1 & 2 balboas|
|Banknotes||None (U.S. dollars are employed instead, although denominated in balboas)|
1 Panama now uses U.S. dollar notes.
The balboa (sign: B/.; ISO 4217: PAB) is, along with the United States dollar, one of the official currencies of Panama. It is named in honor of the Spanish explorer/conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The balboa is subdivided into 100 centésimos.
|Current PAB exchange rates|
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The history of the Panamanian balboa
The balboa replaced the Colombian peso in 1904 following the country's independence. The balboa has been tied to the United States dollar (which is also a legal tender in Panama) at an exchange rate of 1:1 since its introduction and has always circulated alongside dollars.
In 1904, silver coins in denominations of 2 1⁄2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centésimos were introduced. These coins were weight-related to the 25 gram 50 centésimos, making the 2 1⁄2 centésimos coin 1 1⁄4 grams. Its small size led to it being known as the "Panama pill" or the "Panama pearl". In 1907, copper-nickel 1⁄2 and 2 1⁄2 centésimos coins were introduced, followed by copper-nickel 5 centésimos in 1929. In 1930, coins for 1⁄10, 1⁄4, and 1⁄2 balboa were introduced, followed by 1 balboa in 1931, which were identical in size and composition to the corresponding U.S. coins. In 1935, bronze 1 centésimo coins were introduced, with 1 1⁄4 centésimo pieces minted in 1940.
In 1966, Panama followed the U.S. in changing the composition of their silver coins, with copper-nickel clad 1⁄10 and 1⁄4 balboa, and .400 fineness 1⁄2 balboa. 1 balboa coins, at .900 fineness silver, were issued that year for the first time since 1947. In 1973, copper-nickel clad 1⁄2 balboa coins were introduced. 1973 also saw the revival of the 2 1⁄2 centésimos coin, which had a size similar to that of the U.S. half dime, but these were discontinued two years later due to lack of popular demand. In 1983, 1 centésimo coins followed their U.S. counterpart by switching from copper to copper plated zinc. Further issues of the 1 balboa coins have been made since 1982 in copper-nickel without reducing the size.
Modern 1 and 5 centésimos and 1⁄10, 1⁄4, and 1⁄2 balboa coins are the same weight, dimensions, and composition as the U.S. cent, nickel, dime, quarter, and half-dollar, respectively. In 2011, new 1 and 2 balboa bimetallic coins were issued.
In addition to the circulating issues, commemorative coins with denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and 500 balboas have been issued.
In 1941, President Dr. Arnulfo Arias pushed the government to enact Article 156 to the constitution, authorizing official and private banks to issue paper money. As a result, on 30 September 1941, El Banco Central de Emision de la Republica de Panama was established.
The bank was authorized to issue up to 6,000,000 balboas worth of paper notes, but only 2,700,000 balboas were issued on 2 October 1941. A week later, Dr. Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia Arango replaced Arias as president in a coup supported by the United States. The new government immediately closed the bank, withdrew the issued notes, and burned all unissued stocks of same. Very few of these so-called “Arias Seven Day” notes escaped incineration.
- Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Panama". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: www.BanknoteNews.com.
- Krause, Chester L., and Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501.
- Pick, Albert (1994). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (7th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-207-9.