One of the singularities of Panama is that it has two different currencies. Therefore, we explain what currencies are used in the country, what is the exchange rate and how it has been its evolution throughout history.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Article Index

Panama currency: value, history and conversion to other currencies

Panamanian currency

El Balboa (PAB) is the official currency of Panama since 1904. Its value is the same as that of the American dollar, a currency that is also legal tender in the country. In addition, currently, there are no balboa bills, so the dollar bill is used for high figures.




Exchange rate

Next, you can observe the equivalent value of the balboa in the currency of different countries and continents:

  • 1,00B / = 9,94 Venezuelan bolivars (VEF)
  • 1,00B / = 553,20 Costa Rican colones (CRC)
  • 1,00B / = 1,00 US dollars (USD)
  • 1,00B / = 0,95 euros (EUR)
  • 1,00B / = 5.737,18 Paraguayan guaranies (PYG)
  • 1,00B / = 23,48 Honduran lempiras (HNL)
  • 1,00B / = 15,92 Argentine pesos (ARS)
  • 1,00B / = 667,97 Chilean pesos (CLP)
  • 1,00B / = 3.002,21 Colombian pesos (COP)
  • 1,00B / = 20,71 Mexican pesos (MXN)
  • 1,00B / = 29,09 Uruguayan pesos (UYU)
  • 1,00B / = 7,52 Guatemalan quetzals (GTQ)
  • 1,00B / = 3,36 peruvian soles (PEN)

Currency exchange

If you travel to Panama and want to exchange money, in the airports and main cities you can find exchange houses. However, they usually charge a commission for the service.

You can also withdraw money directly from an ATM, request the change at a bank or pay with a credit or debit card in most establishments.

Likewise, it is possible to request a currency exchange before the trip, requesting it at a bank in your country. You can get both balboas and US dollars.

History and peculiarities

Panama is a territory in which several States were proclaimed throughout its history. With them, the currency was changing until it reached the current model.

Old coins

After the colonial era and independence from Spain in 1821, Panama was part of a state called Gran Colombia, a territory that it shared with present-day Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Therefore, until 1830, the current currency was the piastra.

In 1831 this area was renamed the Republic of New Granada, in which the real and the Colombian peso circulated. In 1840, Panama separated from this Republic and created the State of the Isthmus, although it rejoined New Granada the following year.

After several attempts, it was from 1903 when the Official Republic of Panama was declared and the balboa was established as an official currency, which became a national symbol. At the same time, this currency is equated to the US dollar, which can continue to be used today.




The name of the coin comes from Vasco Nunez de Balboa, an explorer who discovered the South Sea in 1513, which we know today as Pacific Ocean.

Over the years, the currency has undergone different mints and some copies have disappeared, such as the one called quart. A curiosity of the balboa is that in 1941 banknotes were created, but these only remained in circulation for seven days, since the government that decided it was overthrown.

Current currencies

There are currently no balboa bills. Therefore, large amounts of money, such as salaries, are paid in dollars. Both currencies circulate simultaneously in the country and have the same price.

The lowest value coin is the one hundredth coin, followed by the five coin. The next highest value are those of a tenth, a quarter and a half, also known as a peso.

In 2010 a new currency, that of a balboa. This specimen has the nickname of Martinelli, as it was President Ricardo Martinelli who approved it. This action was criticized, since a dollar bill circulates in the country for that value.

The face of Vasco Núñez de Balboa appears in most of the models. However, in the one hundredth we find Urracá, an indigenous chief from the XNUMXth century. Sara Sotillo, a defender of women's rights, appears in the five-hundredth edition.

Commemorative coins

Commemorative coins are copies that are made to honor an important historical event or event. Are from Limited EditionTherefore, its price is higher than the rest.

In Panama we find numerous models. Some of the most sought after are those of Panama Viejo, those of the 75th Anniversary of Independence and those of the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Pacific Ocean.

The last one approved is the one that refers to the Panama Canal. This has a value of 25 hundredths (one quarter). At the same time, a collection model has been designed, made in silver and bathed in gold. Its value is 20 balboas each and the edition is made up of 500 coins.

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