The Chilean peso (CLP) is the official currency of Chile and is issued by the Central Bank of Chile. As the legal tender of one of Latin America’s most stable and prosperous economies, the Chilean peso plays an important role both domestically and internationally. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the CLP, examining its history, exchange rates, circulation coins and banknotes, economy, and future outlook.


Chile has utilized the peso as its currency since 1817 after gaining independence from the Spanish empire. Since then, the Chilean peso has undergone numerous changes and evolutions to become the stable currency it is today. The peso is denoted by the symbol “$” and is abbreviated CLP, which stands for “Chilean Peso.”

Some key facts about the Chilean peso:

  • It is subdivided into 100 centavos.
  • CLP banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos.
  • Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos.
  • The ISO 4217 code for the Chilean peso is CLP.
  • It is issued and regulated by the Central Bank of Chile.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history of the CLP, its exchange rate regime and fluctuations over time, circulation coins and banknotes, role in the Chilean economy, and outlook going forward.

History of the Chilean Peso

Origins and Establishment

The Chilean peso traces its origins back to the Spanish colonial period when the first Chilean coins were minted in Santiago in 1743. At the time, Spain’s silver real was the currency used in transactions. After the Chilean War of Independence ended in 1818, the newly formed Republic of Chile began issuing its own peso coins, establishing the peso as the national currency.

The Banco de Chile and the Banco Agrícola were the first private banks given permission to issue paper money. In 1925, the Chilean Central Bank (BCC) was formed, taking over control of monetary policy and issuing banknotes and coins. From 1925 to 1931, the Chilean peso was fixed at a rate of 1 peso = 1 U.S dollar, until the Great Depression forced Chile to abandon the gold standard.

High Inflation Era

The years between 1975 and 1990 were marked by high instability and inflation in Chile. Under the rule of General Augusto Pinochet, increased public spending and excessive printing of money without backing led to hyperinflation at one point reaching over 500% per year in 1973. This eroded purchasing power and confidence in the Chilean peso significantly.

Several economic crises and recessions hit during this period, causing the peso’s value to plummet. The government was forced to issue higher denomination banknotes of 5,000 and 10,000 pesos to offset the weakening currency. Attempts were made to peg the CLP to the USD at fixed exchange rates during this time, but these measures ultimately failed.

Crawling Peg Regime

In the 1990s, Chile returned to democracy and implemented important monetary reforms to stabilize the peso. From 1991-1998, the Central Bank instituted a “crawling peg” regime which allowed the CLP to fluctuate within a set trading band that was gradually devalued over time. This system helped curb inflation and restore confidence in the currency.

In 1999, Chile adopted a free floating exchange rate, meaning the peso’s value was now determined by the open market based on supply and demand. This allowed the currency to find stability after years of high inflation. The overall sound macroeconomic policies and growth of the Chilean economy in subsequent decades has kept the CLP stable.

CLP Exchange Rates

The Chilean peso exchange rate has undergone gradual appreciation in recent decades as inflation has fallen and the economy strengthened. Here is an overview of CLP exchange rate history:

  • In 1980, amidst high inflation, 450 pesos equaled 1 U.S. dollar.
  • In 1990, following years of devaluation, the exchange rate reached 405 pesos per 1 dollar.
  • By 2000, after the crawling peg system ended, it was 538 pesos per 1 U.S. dollar.
  • In 2010, the exchange stood at approximately 510 pesos per dollar.
  • Currently in 2022, the CLP hovers between 750 – 850 per U.S. dollar, showing the peso’s growing strength.

The CLP exchange rate is determined by the foreign exchange market based on supply and demand factors like:

  • Interest rates – Higher Chilean interest rates attract investment capital, increasing demand for CLP.
  • Inflation – Higher Chile inflation typically leads to CLP depreciation.
  • Economic growth – A strong Chilean economy boosts the CLP.
  • Copper prices – As Chile’s main export, high copper prices benefit the peso.
  • Political climate – Political uncertainty and crises tend to weaken the CLP through reduced investment.

The Central Bank of Chile occasionally intervenes in the foreign exchange market to stabilize extreme currency fluctuations, but generally allows market dynamics determine exchange rates.

CLP Banknotes and Coins

Chilean peso banknotes and coins are issued by the Central Bank of Chile. Here are the current banknotes and coins in circulation:


Denomination and Color

  • $1,000 – Purple
  • $2,000 – Blue
  • $5,000 – Red
  • $10,000 – Green
  • $20,000 – Orange

Banknotes feature images of notable Chilean historical figures like Arturo Prat, Bernardo O’Higgins, and Gabriela Mistral. Advanced security features such as watermarks, security threads, see-through windows, and raised ink help prevent counterfeiting.


Denomination and Metal

  • 1 peso – Aluminum
  • 5 pesos – Aluminum
  • 10 pesos – Aluminum
  • 50 pesos – Stainless Steel
  • 100 pesos – Brass
  • 500 pesos – Cupronickel

The reverse side of the coins features native Chilean animals like the huemul (Andean deer), American condor, llama, and alpaca. CLP coins have security features like edge serrations and microprinted text.

The 1 and 5 peso coins represent the lowest denominations in circulation and are not widely used in transactions. Chile has minted commemorative coins for past events like the Pan American Games and Papal visits.

Role of the CLP in the Economy

As the national currency, the Chilean peso plays an integral role in the country’s financial system and overall economy. Here are some functions of the CLP:

  • Medium of exchange – The peso enables the buying and selling of goods and services domestically. It is used in everyday transactions by consumers and businesses.
  • Unit of account – Prices of items are quoted and recorded in CLP, serving as a standard numerical monetary unit. This helps consumers and businesses track payments.
  • Store of value – The relative stability of the CLP enables Chileans to save money in the form of bank deposits confidently, storing value for future use.
  • Means for repayment of debt – Debt obligations like loans, mortgages, bonds and bank deposits are denominated in pesos, facilitating repayment.
  • A stable and trusted currency like the CLP fosters broader economic growth and development in Chile by enabling investment, trade, and monetary policy. The Central Bank regulates the money supply and interest rates to influence employment, inflation, exchange rates, and other economic goals.
  • As legal tender, the Chilean government accepts taxes, fees, and duties in the form of CLP. Government agencies and public services are funded through peso-denominated budgets and spending.

Overall, the CLP provides price stability and confidence in monetary transactions for consumers and businesses participating in the Chilean economy. Most economic variables from GDP to wages to assets are measured using the Chilean peso.

Outlook and Future for the Chilean Peso

Looking ahead, analysts expect the Chilean peso to remain relatively stable against the US dollar over the next few years, supported by solid economic fundamentals.

  • Chile boasts the highest sovereign credit rating in Latin America, which boosts investment inflows and demand for the peso.
  • Inflation is projected to stay low at 2-4% annually, which will encourage the Central Bank to maintain low interest rates, benefiting the CLP.
  • Chile’s dependence on copper exports remains high, so any declines in global copper prices could weaken the CLP through reduced export income.
  • The government’s expansionary fiscal spending and monetary stimulus during the COVID-19 pandemic may cause inflationary pressure on the peso.
  • Political events like the election of a new constitution in 2022 could increase economic uncertainty, leading to CLP volatility.

However, the Central Bank remains committed to exchange rate flexibility and has accumulated substantial international reserves to guard against significant depreciation of the peso. Chile’s sound policy framework should buffer the CLP against external shocks.

Barring unforeseen economic or political crises, the Chilean peso is likely to be one of the more stable free-floating emerging market currencies over the next five years. But some depreciation of the CLP against major currencies like the dollar is expected in the long-term as Chile continues pursuing export-driven growth.


As we have explored, the Chilean peso has come a long way from an unstable currency subject to hyperinflation in past decades to a stable free-floating currency underpinned by solid economic policy and growth today. While some volatility is inevitable, the outlook remains good for the CLP to maintain its purchasing power and store of value functions for Chilean consumers and businesses.

The resilience displayed by the peso through years of economic challenges shows it is capable of withstanding external shocks and adapting to a fluctuating global environment. For those looking to invest or do business in Chile, having a basic understanding of the CLP can provide helpful insight into the dynamics of this emerging market economy.

The Chilean peso will continue playing a vital role both domestically and internationally as Chile consolidates its status as Latin America’s most prosperous and developed economy.