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Panamanian balboa

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.

Panamanian balboa
Balboa panameño (Spanish)
50 centavos de balboa.jpg 50 centavos de balboa - reverso.jpg
12 balboa
12 balboa
ISO 4217
 ​11001 centesimo de balboa.jpg
BanknotesNone (U.S. banknotes are employed instead, although denominated in balboas)
Coins1 and 5 centésimos, ​110, ​14, ​12, and 1 balboas
User(s) Panama (alongside the U.S. dollar)
Pegged withU.S. dollar at par
1 Panama now uses U.S. dollar notes.


The balboa replaced the Colombian peso in 1904 following the country's independence. With the exception of a fluctuation in 2016[citation needed], the balboa has been tied to the United States dollar (which is also legal tender in Panama) at an exchange rate of 1:1 since its introduction and has always circulated alongside dollars.



Denomination Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Minted
Un centésimo (B/. 0.01)   Urracá Denomination 19.05 mm 1.55 mm 3.11 g Copper 95%
Tin/Zinc 5%
Smooth 1935–1982
2.50 g Copper 2.5%
Zinc 97.5%
Cinco centésimos de balboa (B/. 0.05)   Denomination Panamanian Coat of Arms 21.21 mm 1.95 mm 5 g Copper 25%
Nickel 75%
Smooth 1929–Present
Un décimo de balboa (B/. 0.10)   Vasco Núñez de Balboa 17.91 mm 1.35 mm 2.268g Copper 91.67%
Nickel 8.33%
118 reeds 1966–Present
Un cuarto de balboa (B/. 0.25)   24.26 mm 1.75 mm 5.67g 119 reeds
Medio balboa (B/. 0.50)   30.61 mm 2.15 mm 11.34 g 150 reeds 1973–Present
Un balboa (B/. 1)   Liberty with Panamanian Coat of Arms 38.1 mm 2.58 mm 22.68 g reeded 1973–2010
Panamanian Coat of Arms 26.5 mm 2 mm 7.2 g Outer ring: Nickel-plated steel
Center: Nickel-brass-plated steel
reeded with inscription 2011–Present


Denomination Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Minted
Medio Centesimo de Balboa (​12¢)
(No longer used since 1940)
Vasco Núñez de Balboa Denomination Copper-nickel Smooth 1907–?
Uno y Cuarto Centesimos (​1 14¢)
(No longer used since 1970)
Vasco Núñez de Balboa Denomination Copper 95%
Tin/Zinc 5%
Smooth 1940
Dos y Medio Centesimos de Balboa (​2 12¢)
(No longer used since 1976)
Vasco Núñez de Balboa Denomination 18 mm 3.3 g Copper-nickel Smooth 1907–?
Panamanian Coat of Arms Various Designs 10 mm 1.25 g Copper-nickel-plated copper 1973–1976

In 1904, silver coins in denominations of ​2 12, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centésimos were introduced. These coins were weight-related to the 25-gram 50 centésimos, making the ​2 12-centésimos coin 1.25 grams. Its small size led to it being known as the "Panama pill" or the "Panama pearl". In 1907, copper-nickel ​12- and ​2 12-centésimo coins were introduced, followed by copper-nickel 5-centésimo coins in 1929. In 1930, coins for ​110, ​14, and ​12 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 1¼-centésimo pieces minted in 1940.

In 1966, Panama followed the U.S. in changing the composition of their silver coins, with copper-nickel-clad ​110 and ​14 balboa, and .400 fineness ½ balboa. One-balboa coins, at .900 fineness silver, were issued that year for the first time since 1947. In 1973, copper-nickel-clad ​12-balboa coins were introduced. 1973 also saw the revival of the ​2 12-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 its size.

Modern 1-, 5-centésimo, ​110-, ​14-, and ​12-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-balboa bimetallic coins were issued[1] that are the same dimensions as the U.S. dollar coin.

In addition to circulating issues, commemorative coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and 500 balboas have also been issued.


In 1941, President 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 Emisión de la República de Panamá (Central Bank of Issue of the Republic of Panama) was established.[2]

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, Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia Arango replaced Arias as president in a coup supported by the United States.[3] 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.

Exchange rateEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "World Coin News: panama". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  2. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Panama". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA:
  3. ^ . AP. 1998-08-11 Missing or empty |title= (help)