Cuba has two currencies at the moment: the Cuban Peso (in Spanish “Peso Cubano”) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (in Spanish “Peso Convertible Cubano”). Their respective symbols under the ISO 4217 standard are CUP and CUC.
The Cuban Peso (CUP) was born in 1915. Specimens of different compositions, designs and face values have been minted over the years. Many of them are no longer in circulation, for instance, all the silver and gold coins minted before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 are no longer circulating.
On the other hand, the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is a fairly new currency. It appeared for the first time in 1994. Currently, this currency is at par with American Dollar (USD).
What’s the difference between the “Cuban Peso” and the “Cuban Convertible Peso”? To summarize it: the “Cuban Peso” is the historical and national currency of the Cubans. It is what most Cubans are paid with. The “Cuban Convertible Peso” is a secondary currency that was intended to be the currency of the tourists visiting Cuba. The “Cuban Convertible Peso” is just a placeholder for the American Dollar inside the Cuban economy.
Other important difference is that 1CUC is roughly 25CUP. This means the “Cuban Convertible Peso” is the stronger currency and it has 25 times the value of the “Cuban Peso”.
Things have changed since 1994 and today you can see Cuban citizens using both the CUC and the CUP interchangeably. There have been talks (and gossip) about the unification of the two currencies into a single currency. If this happens, most people expect the “Cuban Peso” to outlive the “Cuban Convertible Peso".
The Cuban Peso:
Currently, the coins in circulation have the face values of 1 cent, 2cents, 5 cents, 20 cents, 1 Peso and 3 Pesos (1 Peso = 100 cents).
All the coins of 1, 2 and 5 cents that were minted after 1915 are legal tenders in Cuba. This is quite interesting; because all other Cuban coins minted before the Cuban Revolution (that came to power in 1959) were taken out of circulation. The exception was the coins of 1, 2 and 5 cents.
1 cent - Cuban Peso
2 cents - Cuban Peso
5 cents - Cuban Peso
The coin of 20 cents currently in circulation was minted for the first time in 1962. There are two varieties of it.
20 cents - Cuban Peso
The 1 Peso coin began to circulate in 1983. It was revamped years later in 1992 and a new coin of 1 Peso was born. So, there are two variates of the 1 Cuban Peso as well.
1 Cuban Peso
Finally, the 3 Pesos coin entered circulation for the first time in 1990.
3 Cuban Pesos
The Cuban Convertible Peso:
The first coins of the Cuban Convertible Peso were minted in 1994. They corresponded to the denominations of 5 cents, 10 cents, 25cents, 50 cents and 1 Convertible Peso. These coins entered circulation in early 1995.
An interesting numismatic detail: the coins of the Cuban Convertible Peso minted in the year 1994 are slightly different from those minted in later years. The coins of 1994 and those that came later have the same design; but the Cuban Coat of Arms in the reverse of the 1994 coins is upside down if you compare it to the coins that came later. The 1994 coins were minted in Canada and after that, the Cuban Convertible Peso coins were (are) minted in Cuba.
In the year 2000, the 1 cent coin was emitted for the first time.
A bimetallic coin with a facial value of 5 Convertible Pesos entered circulation in 2004. It was minted by the House of the Coin of Cuba (in Spanish “Casa de la Moneda de Cuba”) in 1999. This coin is very hard to come by.
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