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Global Citizen

The Nomad Capitalist’s Guide to South American Countries and Their Currencies

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In this article, we’ll have a look at the diverse South American currencies. Our focus will be on the national currencies in use across the South American continent and the impact they have on the respective economies.

The understanding of these national currencies is not just a matter of intellectual curiosity; it’s vital for investors and travelers alike. With a grasp of the local currencies and their relative strengths, you can identify attractive investment opportunities and plan travel budgets more effectively.

Don’t miss this opportunity to boost your financial knowledge and practical know-how. Visit Nomad Capitalist to keep abreast of the latest trends in international travel and investment.

South American Currencies: History and Performance


Understanding the economic landscape of the South American continent involves delving into the diverse world of its national currencies.

Each South American country, from the bustling centers of Argentina and Brazil to the tranquil landscapes of Bolivia and Uruguay, boasts a unique monetary history. These stories, involving bouts of hyperinflation, periods of stability, and significant economic reforms, have shaped the currencies in circulation today.

Let’s begin.

1. Argentina – Argentine Peso (ARS)

First used in 1826, the Argentine peso has a complex history, marked by periods of high inflation and devaluation. Despite these economic challenges, it remains the only national currency of Argentina.

The peso’s value against the United States dollar has varied significantly over the years, reflecting the country’s economic instability and periods of severe crisis which show no signs of ending anytime soon.

2. Bolivia – Bolivian Boliviano (BOB)

The Bolivian boliviano replaced the Bolivian peso in 1987 during a time of hyperinflation.

As Bolivia’s national currency, its performance against strong currencies such as the United States dollar over the years has been influenced by changes in the country’s economic policies and global economic trends.

3. Brazil – Brazilian Real (BRL)

Introduced in 1994 as part of the Plano Real, the Brazilian real aimed to stabilize the country’s economy following a period of hyperinflation.

Today, the real is one of the most significant South American currencies, and its performance against the United States dollar is closely watched by investors interested in the South American continent.

4. Chile – Chilean Peso (CLP)

The Chilean peso has maintained a significant level of stability throughout the years due to the strong economic management of the country.

First established as the country’s official currency in 1975, it’s considered a strong South American currency, with a fairly steady performance against the United States dollar.

5. Colombia – Colombian Peso (COP)

The Colombian peso, used since 1810, has seen considerable fluctuations against the United States dollar over the years.

These variations reflect evolving economic conditions in Colombia, but the Colombian peso has proven resilient, retaining its place among key South American currencies.

6. Ecuador – United States Dollar (USD)

In a unique situation, Ecuador adopted the United States dollar as its national currency in 2000 following a severe financial crisis. The objective of this move was to stabilize the country’s economy.

Consequently, the country no longer has its own currency and exclusively relies on the United States dollar for all transactions.

7. Guyana – Guyanese Dollar (GYD)

The Guyanese dollar, in use since 1839, has seen periods of inflation and economic uncertainty.

The currency has changed in value against the US dollar the over the years. This reflects the shifts in the economic conditions of the United States and the performance of domestic industries.

8. Paraguay – Paraguayan Guaraní (PYG)

The Paraguayan guaraní has been Paraguay’s national currency since 1944.

The currency has faced inflationary pressures over the years, but the guaraní continues to be an integral part of Paraguay’s economy. Its performance against the United States dollar reflects the economic developments within this South American country.

9. Peru – Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)

Peru introduced the Peruvian nuevo sol in 1991 to replace the hyperinflated inti. The nuevo sol has shown relative stability against the United States dollar over the years, demonstrating the benefits of the country’s economic reforms.

10. Suriname – Surinamese Dollar (SRD)

Introduced in 2004 to replace the Surinamese guilder, the Surinamese dollar is a relatively young currency.

Its value against the United States dollar has been affected by a variety of factors, including Suriname’s economic policy decisions and global economic trends.

11. Uruguay – Uruguayan Peso (UYU)

The Uruguayan peso has a long history dating back to 1896. Despite facing periods of inflation and economic reform, it has maintained its status as Uruguay’s only national currency.

Over the years, its value against the United States dollar has fluctuated, reflecting both local and international economic trends.

12. Venezuela – Venezuelan Bolívar (VES)

The Venezuelan bolívar, first introduced in 1879, has undergone several iterations due to high inflation and economic challenges. Most recently, the bolívar soberano was introduced in 2018 to replace the bolívar fuerte. The bolívar’s value against the United States dollar has dramatically decreased in recent years due to hyperinflation and economic instability.

Despite these challenges, understanding the dynamics of the bolívar is important for anyone interested in Venezuela’s economic situation, which is in start contrast with neighboring Colombia.

South American Currencies – Significance

As we conclude this exploration of South American currencies, it’s clear that each carries a rich and intricate history. Their stories speak of resilience, economic challenges, and the intricate dynamics of the global financial system.

As we continue to navigate the financial landscape of the South American continent, understanding the national currencies is a must. Their performance, particularly against the United States dollar, remains an essential indicator of local economic health.

So whether you’re considering investment opportunities or planning a trip, keeping an eye on these currencies can offer valuable insights.

Familiarizing the Financial Landscape of the South American Continent

Understanding the diverse and rich world of South American currencies provides insightful perspectives for those interested in travel and investment opportunities across the continent.

Indeed, monitoring each currency’s performance against strong currency, like the US dollar, helps measure the economic health of each of these South American nations.

From the bustling economies of Brazil and Argentina to the unique situation in Ecuador and the inflation-stricken Venezuelan Bolívar, each country’s currency has a story to tell, a story that can guide your financial decisions.

Whether you’re an investor eyeing new territories, a traveller planning your next adventure, or just someone keen on understanding global financial dynamics, keeping an eye on South American currencies is key.

With the right information at your disposal, you can navigate the rich economic landscape of South America with confidence.

To keep abreast of investment and travel opportunities across South America and beyond, we invite you to explore more on Nomad Capitalist. Contact us today to learn how we can help you go where you’re treated best with the latest information on travel and international investment opportunities.

South American Countries and Their Currencies Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Currency in Each South American Country?

Twelve South American countries have their own national currency. Here’s a quick rundown:
Argentina – Argentine Peso
Bolivia – Bolivian Boliviano
Brazil – Brazilian Real
Chile – Chilean Peso
Colombia – Colombian Peso
Ecuador – United States Dollar
Guyana – Guyanese Dollar
Paraguay – Paraguayan Guaraní
Peru – Peruvian Nuevo Sol
Suriname – Surinamese Dollar
Uruguay – Uruguayan Peso
Venezuela – Venezuelan Bolívar

How Many Currencies Are in South America?

There are twelve primary currencies in South America, each belonging to a distinct country. However, it’s noteworthy that Ecuador uses the United States Dollar as its official currency.
How Have These Currencies Performed Against the United States Dollar?
The performance of South American currencies against the United States Dollar varies widely, reflecting the unique economic conditions in each country. Some currencies, like the Chilean Peso and Peruvian Nuevo Sol, have shown relative stability, while others, like the Venezuelan Bolívar, have faced significant devaluation due to hyperinflation.

Which is the Strongest South American Currency?

Determining the “strongest” currency can be a complicated task. It involves multiple factors, including its value relative to other currencies, economic stability, and the purchasing power of the currency.
Some of the most stable currencies in South America include the Chilean Peso and the Brazilian Real. However, current values should be checked as currency values can fluctuate.

What Is the Role of the United States Dollar in South America?

The United States Dollar plays a significant role in South American economies. In Ecuador, it is the official currency. In other countries, the U.S. dollar is often used as a benchmark to gauge the value of their national currencies and is held in foreign reserves. It’s also frequently used in international trade transactions.


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