Money in Bolivia

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Money in Bolivia is quite a bit different than money in the United States. It is more colorful, more valued, and less available.


The currency is bolivianos. Currently, one U.S. dollar is equal to 7.07 bolivianos. This exchange rate is better than it was when I moved here a year ago (it was less than 7!), but worse than it was the first time I visited eight years ago (8 bolivianos to 1 dollar).

The official Spanish word for money is dinero, but we never say that in Bolivia. We call it plata, which is also the word for silver. Long ago, Bolivia used the Mexican currency, so we often call our money pesos rather than bolivianos. For example, if I ask how much something costs and am told 30 pesos, I’ll know it’s 30 bolivianos.

The smallest bill is 10 bs. (abbreviation for bolivianos).




The next step up is the 20 bs. bill. Notice that it’s a different color to make identification quick and easy.




Following that is the purple 50 bs. bill. That blue writing on my bill shouldn’t be there, though! This bill is worth about $7.



Next is the red 100 bs. bill. These are very difficult to use because no one ever has change. You have to be buying something expensive or it won’t be accepted.




The largest available bill is for 200 bs. These are even more difficult to use! I usually only use them for paying my rent or at the grocery store.




The writing on the bills is relatively similar to what's on dollars in the United States. All of the bills have signatures, meaningful sketches, political figures, etc. All say “Banco Central de Bolivia,” Central Bank of Bolivia.


And of course Bolivian currency includes coins! In fact, I use coins much more often than bills. Alas, I don’t have one of each coin right now (spent them all on the bus!), so photos of the coins will have to wait for another day.

So what do you think? Do you like how colorful the bills are? I do!
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