Chile is one of the leading economic powers of South America. It is a long strip of land sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean on the western verge of the South American continent. The territory also included some Pacific islands such as Desventuradas, Salas y Gomez, etc. The economic stability of the nation is reflected in the relative high standard of living of its citizens. And this is why we will have a look at some of the must-known facts about the Chilean currency- the Peso (CLP).
- The Peso was first introduced in 1817 during the last years of the Spanish colonial rule. At that time, Peso was pegged to the Spanish currency and placed on the gold standard.
- The Banco Central de Chile controlled the circulation of the Peso. Though the Peso is allowed to float freely in the market, the Central Bank retained some control to counter the excessive depreciation of the currency which the Central Bank exercised on some occasions.
- The Peso continued to be the currency of Chile up to 1960 when it was replaced by a new currency- the Escudo. However, the Peso made a comeback in 1975 and it remained as the Chilean currency till then.
- The Peso is theoretically subdivided into 100 centavos. In reality, however, centavo coins ceased to exist long ago. Even some low denomination Peso coins are also hard to find.
- Some of the coins issued in the early and mid-19th century were made of gold and silver. Increasingly these coins were replaced by coins made of more cheap metals such as copper, nickel and alloys such as cupro-nickel.
- Gold coins were issued as late as 1926. They were of higher denominations- 20, 50, and 100 Peso.
- When the escudo was introduced in 1960, the value of the old Peso was determined as 1 escudo= 1000 Peso. I escudo was further subdivided into 100 centesimos. Centesimo coins were issued in bronze and bronze-aluminum alloy. The reintroduction of Peso in September, 1975 saw the replacement of the Escudo and the value of the new Peso was determined as 1 Peso= 1000 Escudo.
- Chile was ruled by a military junta between 1973 and 1990. During the rule of the junta, Peso coins bear the image of a woman who is depicted as recently being freed from her chains. The coins also carry the inscription- LIBERTAD and the date of the military coup on the obverse.
- After the restoration of the republic in 1990, a new design was adopted with the figure of the legendary Chilean freedom fighter Bernardo O’Higgins on the obverse.
- In 2008, the Chilean mint issued a series of new 50 Peso coins bearing a wrong spelling of the name of their country. Instead of CHILE, it was spelt as CHIIE. In the following year, this mistake made national headlines and Gregorio Iniguez, the general manager of the mint was forced to resign. However, these coins with the wrong spelling became an instant hit among the numismatists!