The Peruvian sol (PEN) is the official currency of Peru. It has a rich history dating back to the 19th century and continues to be an important part of Peru’s economy today. This article takes an in-depth look at the Peruvian sol, including its origins, exchange rates, circulated coins and banknotes, and role in Peruvian trade and finance.


The sol has been the national currency of Peru since 1863, though it originally circulated alongside other currencies. It has gone through various transformations over the decades, including changes in appearance, exchange rate, and circulation.

Today, the Peruvian sol remains an essential part of daily life in Peru. It is controlled by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, which regulates monetary policy and works to control inflation. The sol is also a source of national pride for Peruvians.

This article will cover the history of the Peruvian sol, its current use and exchange rates, the coins and banknotes in circulation, and the sol’s role in Peruvian trade and finance. Whether you are visiting Peru as a tourist, conducting business in the country, or simply want to learn more about this iconic Latin American currency, this guide will provide key information and context.

A Brief History of the Peruvian Sol

The origins of the sol date back to the 1860s, when Peru was undergoing economic reforms under President Ramón Castilla. Up until this point, Peru used a complex monetary system based on the real and various foreign currencies like the peso.

In 1863, Castilla’s government introduced the sol as the new monetary unit of Peru, defined as being equal to 10 reales or 1/10 of a peso. This helped simplify the monetary system and assert Peru’s financial independence.

Initially, the sol circulated alongside other currencies and only slowly became the dominant unit of account over the next few decades. The sol replaced the real as the primary currency in 1885.

In the 1930s, the sol was revalued relative to the British pound sterling, exchanging at 24.5 soles to 1 pound. This was part of Peru’s efforts to stabilize its currency during the Great Depression.

Peru went through periods of severe economic instability in the later 20th century, including hyperinflation in the 1980s up to 1990. Several currency reforms were enacted.

In 1985, the inti was introduced to replace the sol at a rate of 1000 soles to 1 inti. But high inflation quickly eroded the inti’s value. In 1991, a new sol was introduced, replacing the inti at a rate of 1 million intis to 1 new sol.

Additional reforms helped stabilize Peru’s currency. Since then, the new sol has retained its value and is now worth around 3.3 US dollars.

Current Use and Exchange Rates

The sol remains the official currency of Peru today. It is distributed by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru and printed on polymer banknotes that were first introduced in 1991 and updated over the years.

The exchange rate is allowed to float and is determined on the open market. However, the Central Bank does intervene at times to prevent excessive volatility or appreciation/depreciation of the sol.

As of August 2023, the current exchange rate for the sol is approximately:

  • 1 Peruvian sol = $0.30 USD
  • 1 USD = 3.35 Peruvian soles

This exchange rate can fluctuate regularly based on economic conditions, relative strength of the Dollar, and monetary policy. The sol tends to be weaker relative to the US dollar and other major currencies.

Peru maintains fairly strict currency controls. The import or export of domestic or foreign currency in cash amounts over $10,000 USD must be declared. Foreign currencies and travelers checks can be exchanged easily at banks and cambios (exchange bureaus) in Peru.

Coins and Banknotes

Peruvian soles are currently issued in 8 different coin denominations and 5 different banknote denominations by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru.

The coins in circulation are:

  • 10, 20, and 50 céntimos
  • 1, 2, and 5 soles
  • 5 soles bi-metallic
  • 10 soles bi-metallic

The current banknotes are:

  • 10 soles
  • 20 soles
  • 50 soles
  • 100 soles
  • 200 soles


The lowest three coin denominations (10, 20, and 50 céntimos) are small, silver-colored coins. The 1 sol coin is much larger and gold-colored. The higher 2 and 5 sol coins are bi-metallic, with a gold-colored center and silver-colored outer ring.

The 5 and 10 sol bi-metallic coins were introduced in 2011 and 2018 respectively. They incorporate past historical figures on one side of the coin.


Peruvian banknotes come in different sizes and colors, increasing in size with the value. They use images of notable Peruvian figures, buildings, and geographical landscapes as design motifs.

Some security features include watermarks, security threads, see-through registration, raised print, and microprinting. Many of the anti-counterfeiting features are only visible under UV light. The 10 and 20 sol notes are commonly used in day-to-day transactions.

Higher value 100 and 200 sol banknotes are less frequently seen in circulation. New polymer banknotes were first introduced between 2011-2013, replacing older paper banknotes. They are more durable and harder to counterfeit.

Role in Trade and Finance

As the national currency, the sol plays an important role in Peruvian economic affairs and trade:

  • Legal tender – The sol is the only legal form of currency that must be accepted for all payments and transactions in Peru. Prices are denominated in soles.
  • Monetary policy – The Central Bank controls the money supply, interest rates, and credit availability in the economy using the sol. This influences investment, employment, inflation, and GDP growth.
  • Managing exchange rates – The Central Bank buys and sells domestic and foreign currency to influence the exchange rate regime and prevent excessive volatility in the sol’s value. This affects trade competitiveness.
  • International trade – Peruvian imports and exports are quoted and settled using the sol. The sol’s exchange rate impacts Peru’s trade balance and current account. A weaker sol makes exports cheaper in foreign markets.
  • Remittances – Billions of soles in remittances are sent into the Peruvian economy annually from Peruvians abroad, providing income to families.
  • Economic stability – Having a stable national currency with low inflation provides a reliable medium of exchange and store of value for Peruvian individuals and businesses.

The sol allows Peru to have an independent monetary policy tailored to its economic conditions. It also reduces reliance on foreign currencies for domestic transactions. Overall, the Peruvian sol continues to play an integral role in the country’s economic landscape today, just as it has for over 150 years.


In conclusion, the Peruvian sol has a long and rich history stretching back to the 19th century. It has undergone periods of instability and transformation, but since 1991 has had a relatively stable value backed by Peru’s Central Bank.

Coins come in eight denominations up to 10 sols for everyday transactions. Banknotes are printed in plastic polymers for durability, coming in denominations from 10 to 200 sols. The sol exchange rate is currently around 3.3 to the US dollar.

As legal tender and the national currency, the sol is essential to Peru’s monetary policy, international trade, economic stability, and finances for individuals and businesses. It looks poised to continue its important role in the Peruvian economy for years to come.

So the next time you come across a brightly colored sol banknote or jingling sol coins during your travels, you can appreciate the culture and history they represent in Peru.