The CRC is the Costa Rican colon, the national currency of Costa Rica since 1896.


The CRC, or Costa Rican colon, was adapted as the national currency in 1896, about 70 years after Costa Rica and its Central American neighbors declared independence from Spain in 1810. The colon replaced the Costa Rican peso at par, or a one-to-one exchange ratio. The peso had been the official currency of Costa Rica since 1850, and had been divisible into eight reales, a legacy unit held over from the colonial era.

The colon was named for the Italian explorer known in English as Christopher Columbus and in Spanish as Cristobal Colon. Columbus was the first European to visit Costa Rica, on his final journey to the Americas in 1502. Legend has it that Columbus gave the country its name. That legend is unconfirmed.

Since colones were introduced at par to the peso, the two currencies were able to co-exist for a period. At the introduction of the colon in 1896, gold coins ranging from two to 20 colones were issued, along with silver 50 centimos coins. 100 centimos is equal to one colon or, at the time, one peso. These coins featured the G.C.R. imprint, for the national government. In the mid-1930s, the International Bank of Costa Rica had been established and began to issue coins worth 25 and 50 centimos and one colon. These featured an imprint reading B.I.C.R. The National Bank of Costa Rica issued its own coins in 1937, with a B.N.C.R. imprint.

In 1951, the Central Bank of Costa Rica, or BCCR,  assumed responsibility for all coin issues, expanding the range of denominations upward to include 20 colon coins in 1982, 100s in 1998, and 500 colones coins in 2003.

Paper peso notes originated in 1864, followed by paper colones issued by the Banco Anglo-Costarricense in 1896. A handful of other financial institutions issued banknotes over the first half of the 20th Century until the BCCR became the sole issuer of paper colones. As with coins, the range of denominations grew to include 10,000 colones notes in 1997. Notes tend to display the portrait of a prominent Costa Rican on the front with the reverse displaying the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

The CRC exchange rate and inflation

The BCCR is also tasked with managing national inflation and the colon’s relationship to the U.S. dollar. In 2006, the BCCR established a crawling peg system under which the exchange rate would remain within an upper and lower limit deemed acceptable by central bankers. The central bank announced in January 2015 that the CRC would be allowed to float against the dollar and that the bank would only intervene in extraordinary circumstances.

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