WHAT IS 'PAB (Panamanian Balboa)'

PAB is the currency abbreviation for the Panamanian Balboa, one of the official currencies of the Republic of Panama, the other being the United States Dollar. The Balboa is subdivided into 100 centisimos. It is named after Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Spanish explorer and conquistador who founded the first European settlement in Panama in 1510. Balboas are issued only in coin form.

BREAKING DOWN 'PAB (Panamanian Balboa)'

PAB, the Panamanian Balboa, was introduced in 1904, replacing the Colombian Peso, following Panama’s independence from Colombia.  Silver coins of 2 ½, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centesimos were introduced. In 1907, a ½-centisimo coin of cupro-nickel, an alloy of copper and nickel that mimics silver, and a 2 ½-centesimo coin were introduced. In 1929, 5 centesimos coins were also made into cupro-nickel composition. In 1930, balboa coins of 1/10, ¼, as well as ½ denominations were issued, followed by the 1 balboa coin in 1931. The sizes and composition of the balboa coins were identical with the corresponding US coins. Years after, in 1935, 1 centesimo coins were minted in bronze, followed by bronze 1 ¼ centesimos in 1940.

Since its inception, the Panamanian balboa has been pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 1:1. The high influence of the U.S. dollar alongside the balboa is a result of the large American military presence there, starting with the construction of the Panama Canal beginning in 1904, and ending in 1999.

Seven Days’ Notes

Since 1941, balboas are issued only in coin form. In 1941, President Arnulfo Arias enacted Article 156 of the Panamanian Constitution, which authorized both private and public banks to issue their own banknotes, resulting in the creation of El Banco Central de Emisión de la República de Panamá, or Central Bank of Issue of the Republic of Panama, on 30 September 1941. However, on October 9, 1941, Arias was deposed in a coup by Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia Arango. His government immediately shut down the national bank and ordered all 2,700,000 notes issued to that date incinerated. Very few banknotes survived and to this day the so-called “Seven Days’ Notes” are valuable collector’s items.


Currently, 1 and 5 centesimos, as well as the 1/10, ½, and 1/4 coins all have the dimensions, weight, and compositions of the following US coins: half-dollar, quarter, dime, nickel, and cent. Panama commemorative coins of the denominations 5, 10, 20, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200 and 500 balboas were minted from time to time to celebrate important milestones in Panama’s history.

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