What Is the Brazilian Real?

BRL is the currency abbreviation symbol for the Brazilian real (BRL), the currency for Brazil. The Brazilian real is made up of 100 centavos and is often presented with the symbol R$. The Brazilian real (plural reais) is regulated by the Central Bank of Brazil's (BCB) Monetary Policy Committee (COPOM).

Understanding the Brazilian Real

The Brazilian real was first adopted as the official currency in July 1994, replacing the cruzeiro real at a rate of 1 real to 2,750 cruzeiro real. This change was in accordance with the Plano Real ("Real Plan"). In 1994, the real was anchored to the U.S. dollar. This lasted until 1999, when inflationary pressures forced the real to partially float against the dollar.

Upon its introduction, the real appreciated against the U.S. dollar as its growing economy attracted large capital inflows, which led to the central bank stepping in to stabilize the appreciation. However, in the latter part of the century, when Brazil's economy cooled off, the value of the real slid along with most emerging market currencies. 

There have been multiple commemorative coins produced by the central bank, the most recent being a 1 real coin for the 2016 Summer Olympics and another for the 50th anniversary of the Brazilian central bank. In total, the central bank has issued seven commemorative coins since 1995. 

Today, there are 6 denominated real coins in circulation, a 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos and a 1 real coin.