5 Fascinating Facts about the Chilean Peso

Last updated on March 11th, 2024 at 03:02 pm

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Are you traveling to Chile or sending money home? You’ll need to turn your USD, euros, pounds, or other currency into Chilean peso.

Are you only looking for the current peso to dollar (or dollar to peso) exchange rate? Here’s today’s rate with Remitly.

CLP is the currency code for the peso, the official currency of Chile. Its symbol is $, and its sub-units are centavo (¢). However, officials eliminated the subdivision of the Chilean peso in 1984 because of its low value. The Banco Central de Chile issues the currency, which is minted by the Casa de Moneda.

  • Coin denominations: 10-, 50-, 100-, 500- pesos. 1- and 5-peso coins are still legal tender but production has discontinued.
  • Banknote denominations: 1,000, 2,000-, 5,000-, 10,000-, and 20,000-peso notes are common. 500-peso notes have discontinued production, but remain legal tender.

Learn more about Chilean peso rates, facts, and tips in this guide—whether you send money to South America or plan to visit soon.

Chilean Peso

1. The Chilean peso is both old and new.

The first Chilean peso was introduced in 1817 and set at a value of 8 Spanish colonial reales. They tied this value to the value of the metal used in the coins. In 1885, Chile adopted a gold standard, pegging the value of the peso to the British pound sterling (1 peso = 1 shilling 6 pence).

When authorities suspended the gold standard in 1932, the peso’s value fell. The Central Bank introduced the current peso in Chile in 1975. This peso is no longer pegged to any other currency.

2. Nicknames include luca, quina, and gamba.

As in other countries, the Chilean people have developed slang terms for their currency. These include “luca” for 1,000 pesos, “quina” for 500 pesos (borrowing from the Spanish “quinientos,” or 500), and “gamba,” which means “prawn,” for 100 pesos, but has more recently been attributed to 100,000 pesos.

A 5,000-peso banknote is sometimes called a “gabriela,” for the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who appears in its design.

3. The word “peso” has a long history.

To understand the peso, look back at colonial rule.

Like many other countries in Central and South America under Spanish colonial rule, Chile’s currency is called a “peso.” Peso is from the Spanish for “weight,” from the Latin word “pensum,” or “something weighed,” which in turns comes from the verb “pendere,” meaning “to weigh.”

Created from precious metals like gold and silver, the original pesos derived their value and authenticity from their weight.

4. Peso bills memorialize Chilean heroes.

Historical and cultural figures important to the Chilean identity grace the fronts of the Chilean peso banknotes. The CLP has memorialized war heroes like Ignacio Carrera Pinto, revolutionaries like Manuel Rodriguez Erdoíza, and Nobel Prize winners like Gabriela Mistral. On the reverse, CLP notes also feature some of Chile’s most distinguished landmarks.

5. One symbol appears on all CLP banknotes.

The Mapuche people are indigenous to modern-day Chile. The symbol of the antú, which represents the Sun giving life to the Earth in Mapuche culture, appears on all the new Chilean banknotes since the redesigns in 2009 and 2011. In Mapuche mythology, the antú is the most powerful spirit; the symbol depicted on Chilean banknotes is part of the security features, making them more difficult to counterfeit.

Since 2011, Chile has introduced additional security features to reduce the number of counterfeit bills. Besides incorporating polymer banknotes, smaller banknotes have a transparent security window and on larger banknotes, a watermark feature is present.

Chilean Peso

About Chile

Chile is a country on the western coast of South America. Stretching about 2,700 miles long, Chile borders Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. It’s home to diverse landscapes of the Andes mountains (including Torres del Paine), Laguna San Rafael, and Patagonia.

The country is home to 19.12 million, with 5.61 million living in the capital city of Santiago. The vast majority of the population lives in the country’s urban centers (87.8%), with only 12.2% living in rural areas. Spanish is the official language of Chile, spoken by most citizens. There are several indigenous groups that still speak their ancestral languages of Aymara, Quechua, and Mapudungun. Most of the country observes the Roman Catholic faith.