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The quetzal (locally [keˈtsal]; code: GTQ) is the currency of Guatemala, named after the national bird of Guatemala, the resplendent quetzal. In ancient Mayan culture, the quetzal bird's tail feathers were used as currency. It is divided into 100 centavos, or lenes in Guatemalan slang. The plural is quetzales.

Guatemalan quetzal
quetzal guatemalteco  (Spanish)
ISO 4217
Banknotes1 quetzal, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 quetzales
Coins1, 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, 1 quetzal
User(s) Guatemala
Central bankBank of Guatemala
 SourceBanco de Guatemala , December 2010.


The quetzal was introduced in 1925 during the term of President José María Orellana, whose image appears on the obverse of the one-quetzal bill. It replaced the peso at the rate of 60 pesos = 1 quetzal[1]. Until 1987, the quetzal was pegged to and domestically equal to the United States dollar and before the pegging to the US dollar, it was pegged to the French franc as well, since the quetzal utilized the gold standard.


Coins of the quetzal

In 1925, coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10 centavos, ​14, ​12 and 1 quetzal were introduced, although the majority of the 1 quetzal coins were withdrawn from circulation and melted. ​12 and 2 centavo coins were added in 1932. Until 1965, coins of 5 centavos and above were minted in 72% silver. ​12 and 1 quetzal coins were reintroduced in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Coins currently in circulation are:

  • 1 centavo
  • 5 centavos
  • 10 centavos
  • 25 centavos
  • 50 centavos
  • 1 quetzal


The first banknotes were issued by the Central Bank of Guatemala in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 100 quetzales, with ​12 quetzal notes added in 1933. In 1946, the Bank of Guatemala took over the issuance of paper money, with the first issues being overprints on notes of the Central Bank. Except for the introduction of 50 quetzal notes in 1967, the denominations of banknotes remained unchanged until ​12 and 1 quetzal coins replaced notes at the end of the 1990s.

In the top-right corner of the obverse face of each banknote, the value is displayed in Mayan numerals, representing Guatemala's cultural history.

Banknotes in circulation[2][3]
Image Value Main Color Description Remark
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
  Q0.50 Brown Tecún Umán, Prince and Commander-and-Chief of the Quiche Realm during the Spanish Conquest. Tikal's Temple I No longer in circulation but still recognized
  Q1 Green José María Orellana, President of Guatemala during the Currency Reform that introduced the Quetzal as the official currency. Main building of the Central Bank of Guatemala Reintroduced as a polymer banknote on August 20, 2007
  Q5 Violet Justo Rufino Barrios, Co-Leader of the Liberal Revolution of 1871. Education allegory Changed to a polymer banknote on November 14, 2011[4]
  Q10 Red Miguel García Granados, Deputy and Main Leader of the Liberal Revolution of 1871. Picture from the Guatemalan National Assembly of 1872
  Q20 Blue Mariano Gálvez, State Leader of the State of Guatemala, within the United Provinces of Central America. Signing of the declaration of Central American independence
  Q50 Orange Carlos Zachrisson, Former finance minister from 1923 to 1926 Allegory of the importance of coffee to the country
  Q100 Sepia Francisco Marroquín, First Bishop of the Realm of Goathemala, and Founder of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala First university building in Antigua Guatemala
Q200 Aqua Sebastian Hurtado, Mariano Valverde, German Alcántara. Three marimba composers. Allegory of the marimba, the national instrument, Musical score of La Flor del Café by Alcántara.
For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

The Bank of Guatemala has introduced a polymer banknote of 1 quetzal on August 20, 2007, followed by a 5 quetzal polymer banknote on November 14, 2011.

Exchange rateEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit