What is the HTG (Haitian Gourde)

HTG (Haitian Gourde) is the national currency for the Republic of Haiti. The name, gourde, stands for gourde in French, or goud in the Haitian Kreyol language. 

The Haitian gourde subdivides into 100 centimes, and the symbol G represents the currency. Despite changes in currency valuation, five gourdes is still sometimes referred to as a Haitian dollar, and prices are often quoted in this informal denomination.

BREAKING DOWN HTG (Haitian Gourde)

​​​​​​​The Haitian gourde (HTG) first circulated as a currency specific to Haiti in 1813. Before its introduction, the country used the colonial livre. The livre pegged to the French livre at par, or one colonial livre to 1 French livre. The livre divided into 20 sous, and 15 sous equaled one Spanish colonial real. In this way, the colonial livre pegged to both French and Spanish currencies.

The gourde replaced the livre at a rate of 8 livres and five sous for every one gourde. This exchange rate complicated currency conversions. During the first and second issues of the gourde, it fluctuated with the pegged currencies. As the franc rose to become the primary currency in France in 1881, the gourde pegged to the franc at a rate of 5 French francs to one gourde.

In 1912, the gourde pegged to the United States dollar(USD) at a rate of 5 gourdes to one dollar. This rate of exchange caused the use of calling 5 gourdes a Haitian dollar, and five centimes a Haitian penny. The gourde unpegged from the US dollar in 1989 and now floats.

History of the Haitian Gourde

Introducing the first Haitian Gourde in 1813 was a step in acknowledging the greater independence of Haiti. The government of Haiti issued coins in various denominations of centimes and paper bills in multiple denominations of gourdes. The second issue of the gourde was due to revaluing the currency in 1870. The government issued banknotes for this new gourde in denominations of 10 and 25 gourdes, but coins were not released.

The issuance of the third gourde happened in 1872 and is still in use today. Once again revaluation of the Haitian gourde (HTG) caused the new currency issue. The third gourde exchanged at a rate of 300 second-issue notes to one third-issue note. Pegging for the third gourde was to the French franc (F) and later to the US dollar (USD). The HTG is no longer pegged and allowed to float based on supply and demand.

A variety of denominations in both banknote and coin format have circulated since the inception of the third gourde. The Bank of the Republic of Haiti manages the currency and monetary policy for the country

Brief History and Economic Background for the HTG

Haiti sits on the island of Hispaniola, the island which Christopher Columbus landed on and proclaimed the New World as he searched for trade routes to India in 1492. The country shares the island with the Dominican Republic. The was a Spanish colony between 1492 and 1625, then fell under French rule until 1804. Haiti started to fight for independence in 1791 through a revolt of self-liberated slaves. They would realize their dream in 1804 however, the U.S. and most of Europe did not recognize the country. At first, the island was divided but would form a unified republic by 1859. 

Distribution of wealth in Haiti is an ongoing issue. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, and the island lacks adequate health care, education, and has poor infrastructure. Corruption in the government has led to the limiting of aid to the country. In 2009, Haiti met the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to qualify for a cancellation of external debt. 

According to the 2017 World Bank data, the Republic of Haiti is a low-income economy. Annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth is 1.2% with an inflation deflator each year of 13.4-percent.