Salvadoran colón

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Salvadoran colón
colón salvadoreño (in Spanish)
ISO 4217
Banknotes1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200 colones
Coins1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, 1, 5 colón
User(s) El Salvador
Central bankCentral Reserve Bank of El Salvador
Pegged withUnited States dollar = 8.75 colones
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The colón was the currency of El Salvador between 1892 and 2001, until it was replaced by the U.S. Dollar. It was subdivided into 100 centavos and its ISO 4217 code was SVC. The plural is colones in Spanish and was named after Christopher Columbus, known as Cristóbal Colón in Spanish.

Currency symbol[edit]

The symbol for the colón is a c with two slashes. The symbol "₡" has Unicode code point U+20A1,[1] and the decimal representation is 8353. In HTML it can be entered as ₡. The colón sign is not to be confused with the cent sign (¢), which has a code point U+00A2 in Unicode (or 162 in decimal), or with the cedi sign ₵, which has a code point U+20B5 in Unicode (or 8373 in decimal). Nonetheless, the commonly available cent symbol '¢' is frequently used locally to designate the colón in price markings and advertisements.

Costa Rican colon symbol.svg


On October 1, 1892, the government of President Carlos Ezeta, decided that the Salvadoran peso be called 'Colon', in homage to the "discoverer" of America. The colón replaced the peso at par in 1919. It was initially pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 2 colones = 1 dollar. El Salvador left the gold standard in 1931 and its value floated.

On June 19, 1934 the Central Bank was created as the government body responsible for monetary policy and the sole body authorized to issue currency in the nation. On January 1, 2001 under the government of President Francisco Flores, the Law of Monetary Integration went into effect and allowed the free circulation of U.S. dollar in the country (see dollarization), with a fixed exchange rate of 8.75 colones. The colon has not officially ceased to be legal tender.

Post colonial currency[edit]

In the mid-19th century, farms produced tin sheets (property sheets) with the farm's name and were used as payment to employees, the sheets only had value in the farm store that issued it, so it created a kind of monopoly.[2] During the existence of the Central American Federation, the monetary system did not change with respect to the colonial system and continued using silver by weight as the main currency with circulation of macaques and property sheets. Once the federation dissolved, the Salvadoran government decreed the issuance of the first national currency, "Reales", gold coins engraved with an "R" and the "Escudos (Shields)" were silver coins with an "E" engraved.[3]

In 1883, under the presidency of Dr. Rafael Zaldívar, the First Monetary Law was adopted using "Peso (weight)" as a monetary unit, discarding the Spanish system of division into 8 reales. The new law served as a basis for the metric system, where the peso was equivalent to 10 reales. At the end of the 19th century, new paper money began to play an important role as an instrument of change as a unit of measure of the value of goods and as an element of savings. The job of issuing bank notes was decreed to private banks licensed by the government.

The first bank to issue banknotes was the Banco International (International Bank), founded in 1880, this bank was granted exclusive issuing, but then lost exclusivity to Banco Occidental and Banco Agricola Comercial. Under the presidency of Carloz Ezeta, the Mint was inaugurated on August 28 of 1892. On October 1 of that year as a tribute to Christopher Columbus in the Discovery of America, the Legislature reformed the monetary law and changed the name to "Colón". The exchange rate from US dollar at that time was 2 colones for a dollar.

In 1919 Currency laws were amended stipulating that the coins with daily wear would be withdrawn from circulation and coins with cuts or punched out parts would not be accepted as legal tender. The amendment also prohibited the using of cards, vouchers or counterparts to replace the official currency. Furthermore, it gave the Ministry of Finance the power to control the circulation of the currency.

Despite the relative economic prosperity of the 1920s, the worldwide depression of 1929, the global drop in coffee prices and the government deregulation of the monetary system caused a national economic crisis. The main problem was the lack of a specialized institution dedicated to ensuring that currency retained its value by controlling banking activity. In response, the government of General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez hired an Englishman named Frederick Francis Joseph Powell to analyze and structure the Salvadoran banking body. In its final report, it was recommended that the banking system should be organized around a central bank to protect the currency and its value, and issue the currency and credit control.

Thus through the presidential initiative on June 19, 1934, the Legislature approved the creation of the Central Bank of El Salvador, an institution whose objectives are set to control the volume of credit and demand of currency, and was also conferred the exclusive power to issue monetary kind.


Because the colón replaced the peso at par, 1 and 5 centavos coins issued before 1919 continued to be issued without design change after the colón's introduction. In 1921, cupro-nickel 10 centavos were introduced, followed by silver 25 centavos in 1943. In 1953, silver 50 centavos were introduced alongside smaller silver 25 centavos. Both were replaced by nickel coins in 1970. In 1974, nickel-brass 2 and 3 centavos coins were introduced, followed by 1 colón coins in 1984.


On August 31, 1934, the new banking institution put into circulation the first family of banknotes in Salvadoran history. Until 1934, paper money was issued by private banks. Three banks issued notes, the Banco Agricola Comercial, the Banco Occidental and the Banco Salvadoreño. They were issued in one, five, ten, twenty-five and one hundred colones, adding two and fifty colones banknotes in 1955. The last 2 colones notes were dated 1976 and the last 1 colón note was issued in 1982. 200 colones banknotes were introduced in 1997.

El Salvador 10 Colones banknote of 1959.
Colón banknotes[4]
Image Value Main Color Description
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
ES1-1982 b.jpgES1-1982 f.jpg ₡ 1 Red Christopher Columbus Presa 5 de Noviembre
ES2-1976 b.jpgES2-1976 f.jpg ₡ 2 Magenta Christopher Columbus Colonial church in Panchimalco
ES5-1999 f.jpg ₡ 5 Green Christopher Columbus Palacio Nacional
ES10-1999 b.jpgES10-1999 f.jpg ₡ 10 Blue Christopher Columbus Volcán de Izalco (Izalco volcano)
ES25-1999 f.jpgES25-1999 b.jpg ₡ 25 Cyan Christopher Columbus Pirámide de San Andres
ES50-1999 b.jpgES50-1999 f.jpg ₡ 50 Purple Christopher Columbus Lago de Coatepeque
ES100-1999 b.jpgES100-1999 f.jpg ₡ 100 Olive Green Christopher Columbus Pirámide del Tazumal
ES200-1999 b.jpgES200-1999 f.jpg ₡ 200 Orange Christopher Columbus Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo (Monument to the Divine Savior of the World)
For table standards, see the banknote specification table.


  • Krause, Chester L.; 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.
  • Pick, Albert (1990). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: Specialized Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (6th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-149-8.
  1. ^ Currency Symbols
  2. ^ Martínez, Néstor. Las venas abiertas de los indígenas en El Salvador Archived 2007-10-11 at
  3. ^ Banco Central de Reserva de El Salvador. ¿Qué es el Dinero? Archived 2007-06-13 at the Wayback Machine 2000
  4. ^ Banknotes of Salvadoran colón. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
Salvadoran colón
Preceded by:
Salvadoran peso
Ratio: at par
Currency of El Salvador
1919 – 31 December 2000
Note: currency still legal tender but no longer in circulation
Succeeded by:
United States dollar
Reason: dollarised by presidential decree
Ratio: 1 U.S. dollar = 8.75 colones