Panamanian balboa

Balboa panameño (Spanish)

Panama ½ Balboa 2001
A ½ balboa coin.

ISO 4217 code


Official users

Flag of Panama Panama

Pegged to

United States dollar at par


1/100 centésimo




1, 5 centésimo, 110, ¼, ½, 1, 2 balboa


None (the United States dollar banknotes are used in Panama)

Central bank

National Bank of Panama

The Panamanian balboa (sign: B/.; ISO code: PAB) is the official coined currency of Panama, which circulates alongside banknotes of the United States dollar. The currency is named in honor of Spanish explorer and conquistador, Vasco Núñez de Balboa. It is subdivided into 100 centésimos.


Divisiones coloniales 1538

Panama was formerly part of New Granada.

The earliest indigenous artifacts hailing from Panama include Paleo-Indian projectile points. Rodrigo de Bastidas became the first European to explore the Isthmus of Panama, arriving in 1501. It was later explored by Christopher Columbus in 1502, and by Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513. The first permanent European settlement on the American mainland, Santa María la Antigua del Darién, was established in 1510 in the lands of modern-day Panama. The country was part of the New Kingdom of Granada (1513-1739) and the Viceroyalty of New Granada (1717-1819), two colonies of the Spanish Empire from the early modern era. Following the disestablishment of the Spanish Empire, Panama became annexed to Gran Colombia, the Republic of New Granada, the Granadine Confederation, the United States of Colombia, and then modern-day Colombia before gaining its independence in 1903.

While part of the Spanish Empire, the Spanish real was circulated as currency within the lands of modern-day Panama, which was subsequently replaced by the Colombian peso in 1847. The balboa and United States dollar were introduced a year following Panama's independence, in 1904.


The balboa replaced the Colombian peso in 1904 after the country became independent from Colombia. The balboa has circulated alongside the United States dollar (which is also legal tender in Panama) at an exchange rate of 1:1 since the former's introduction.


Panama 2½ centesimos 1907

A 2½ centésimo coin of 1907.

In 1904, the first series of Panamanian coins were introduced, which consisted of silver , 5, 10, 25, and 50 centésimo coins. The weight of the coins was based on the value divided by two, with the 2½ centésimos coin having a mass of 1¼ grams, the 5 centésimo coin having a mass of 2½ grams, and so on. The small size of 2½ centésimo coin (1 cm in diameter) led to the coin being known as the "Panama Pill" or the "Panama pearl". In 1907, ½ and 2½ centésimo coins were minted in cupronickel, followed by cupronickel 5 centésimos in 1929. In 1930, coins with denominations of 110, ¼, and ½ balboa were introduced, and were followed by the 1 balboa coin in 1931. These coins were identical in size and composition to the corresponding United States coins. In 1935, new bronze 1 centésimo coins were introduced, followed by a bronze centésimo coin in 1940.

In 1966, Panama followed the United States in changing the silver composition of its coins by issuing cupronickel-clad-copper 110 and ¼ balboa coins, and .400 fine silver ½ balboa coins. The 1 balboa coin was issued for the first time since 1947 that year. In 1973, the new cupronickel-clad-copper ½ balboa coin was introduced. A later issue of the 1 balboa coin was made in 1982, but unlike its predecessors, it was composed of cupronickel and was slightly reduced in size.

In 2011, a bimetallic 1 balboa coin was put into circulation. A 2 balboa coin is expected to be issued in the future.

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

First issue
1 centesimo de balboa
1 centésimo 19 mm Copper and zinc Smooth Urracá, year Value, state title 1996
5 centavos de balboa
5 centésimos 21 mm Cupronickel Smooth coat of arms of Panama, state title, year Value 1996
10 centesimos de balboa
110 balboa 18 mm Cupronickel milled Vasco Núñez de Balboa, value, coat of arms of Panama, state title, year 1996
Panama quarter balboa
¼ balboa 24 mm Cupronickel milled Vasco Núñez de Balboa, value coat of arms of Panama, state title, year 1996
Panama ½ Balboa 2001
½ balboa 30 mm Cupronickel milled Vasco Núñez de Balboa, value coat of arms of Panama, state title, year 1996; 2001
1 balboa 26.5 mm R: Nickel and steel
C: Nickel, brass, and steel
Vasco Núñez de Balboa, year coat of arms of Panama, state title, year 2011
2 balboa 28 mm R: Nickel, brass, and steel
C: Nickel and steel
Vasco Núñez de Balboa, year coat of arms of Panama, state title, year Expected


Panamanian 20 balboa note obverse

A 20 balboa note from 1941.

In 1941, under the leadership of President Arnulfo Arias, Panamanian banknotes were issued. They were recalled only days later, which gave rise to the nickname, "The Seven Day Dollar". These notes, denominated in 1, 5, 10, and 20 balboas, were burned after the seven days, but some balboa notes have been found with collectors. These were the only Panamanian banknotes ever issued. Before and after this, banknotes of the United States dollar were used instead.

Exchange ratesEdit

 v · d · e
Current PAB exchange rates
From Google Finance [2]: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD
From Yahoo! Finance [3]: AUD CAD CHF EUR GBP HKD JPY USD


 v · d · e
Panamanian balboa
Banknotes 1 B5 B10 B20 B
Coins ½ c1 c1¼ c2½ c5 c10 c25 c50 c110 B¼ B½ B1 B2 B5 B10 B20 B25 B50 B75 B100 B150 B200 B500 B1000 B1500 B

Non-balboa: ½ c$20

Miscellaneous CentesimoFixed exchange rateLeper colony moneyPalo SecoUnited States dollar
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.