You may think that you are receiving funny money.
Michael: It is difficult enough when visiting another country to figure out their money. But Colombia is now throwing a wrench into the problem. They are changing their coins and using both at the same time. Not only do the new ones look and feel different, but some are different sizes. Therefore when you receive change it can get confusing.
Graciela: To try and avoid confusion when you visit we are putting some photos here of the old and new coins.
There are two reasons for the change. Security is one of them. These new pieces are more difficult to counterfeit. The second reason is to reduce the cost of production.
Michael: I like the idea that all these new monetary pieces to represent something important in this South American country.
Graciela: Colombia has one of the largest biodiversities in the world. The theme for the five new coins has representations of fauna and flora in the country. It also shows the Banco de la Repulica’s concern for preserving the country’s natural resources.
Michael: Let’s begin by taking a look at the smallest denomination in the group, 50 pesos. That is equivalent of about 2 1/2 cents USD. The new coin is considerably smaller and lighter than the old ones. It is even less in size than a U.S. dime.
Graciela: The animal on this piece is the speckled bear. It is the only surviving bear that is native to South America. Because of invasion and destruction of the ecosystem this animal’s existence is under threat.
Michael: Interesting to note is that according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Colombia is doing the least of all South American countries where the bear lives to protect them.
Graciela: Next in line numerically is the 100 pesos. The amount is about 5 cents in U.S. money. The coin is gold in color. The plant shown is called a frailejón. It grows at high altitudes.
Michael: Despite being declared illegal to destroy it, the plant is a threatened species due to destruction of its environment for the purpose of growing potatoes and other crops.
Graciela: The 200 pesos piece (10 cents USD) has a scarlet macaw (A.K.A. Guacamayo Macao) gracing it on the front side. This bird, in real life, has bright red, yellow and blue colors for feathers. It can grow to about 32 inches and makes a loud squawk sound.
Michael: Unfortunately the scarlet macaws’ numbers are dwindling. Their regions of habitat have been significantly reduced. Groups of them are not as large as they use to be.
The 500 peso coins seem to be as scarce as the animal on it. Finally a counter person in the Farmasanitas Drogueria
at Clinica Colombia helped us out.
Graciela: I was purchasing some items and noticed that her drawer was loaded with the coins and asked if she had any of the new ones. She said that every now and then they received one. However in her drawer there was not any. She then went to the drawer of another worker and she had the coin.
Michael: A big thank you to that young lady.
Graciela: Like its predecessor, this piece has bimetallic construction. The inside is gold colored while the rim is silver. The feature on the front side is a rana de cristal or crystal frog in English. The name comes from them being so transparent that you can see their internal organs.
Michael: The 1,000 peso coin replaces paper money of the same denomination. The country previously had a coin of that amount. However it was taken out of circulation because of the ease in counterfeiting.
Graciela: This new 1,000 coin is bimetallic also. However this time the silver is in the center and the gold the outside part. The coin features a loggerhead turtle entering the water. These turtles have been reducing in numbers for a variety of reasons. They are especially prized for their shells.
On the numeric side of the coin it is unique in that depending upon the angle you view it, either you see BRC (Banco de la República de Colombia in the middle or MIL (which stands for thousand).
Michael: Now that you understand Colombia’s coins I hope that you come and enjoy the country.