Posted on by Anastasia Tags : Guatemala , Quetzal

Guatemalan national currency is named after the resplendent quetzal. One of the most beautiful birds in the world and a national symbol of Guatemala, quetzal was held in high esteem by the ancient Mayans who used the bird’s tail feathers as a form of currency. The quetzal historically utilized the gold standard and was pegged to the American Dollar from 1923 (when it was introduced) to 1987. Despite being a floating currency since then, the Guatemalan quetzal enjoys relatively stable exchange rates and traded between 7.62 and 7.675 GTQ for 1 USD in July 2015.

Guatemalan Coins

Most of Guatemalan coins are minted from an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel. The only exception is the 1 centavo coin which is made of an alloy of aluminum and magnesium (thus the light weight of the coin). The front of every coin minted by the Guatemalan government has the Guatemalan coat of arms. Here is what the coins look like.

1 Guatemalan Centavo

Guatemalan Quetzal 1 Cent Coin

Diameter: 19mm.
Weight: 0.8 g.

5 Guatemalan Centavos

5 Guatemalan Quetzales

Diameter: 16 mm.
Weight: 1.6 g.

10 Guatemalan Centavos

10 Guatemalan Centavos

Diameter: 21 mm.
Weight: 3.2 g.

25 Guatemalan Centavos

25 Guatemalan Centavos

Diameter: 27 mm.
Weight: 8 g.

50 Guatemalan Centavos

50 Guatemalan Centavos

Diameter: 24.25 mm.
Weight: 5.5 g.

1 Quetzal Coin

1 Quetzal Coin

Diameter: 29 mm.
Weight: 11 g.

Guatemalan Paper Currency

Like many other countries, Guatemala uses the obverse (front) size of its paper currency bills to commemorate notable citizens of the country who played a significant role in its life. The reverse (back) is reserved for Guatemala’s national symbols, as well as metaphoric representations of the country and meaningful events in its history. A curious trait that distinguishes Guatemalan paper currency is that the denomination of the bills is shown in the ancient Mayan numerals as well as standard Arabic ones.

50 Guatemalan Centavos Bill

50 Guatemalan Centavos Bill

Tecún Uman, one of the last rulers of native Mayan people (who was killed in action in a battle against a famous Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado) and a national hero of Guatemala since 1960, is portrayed on the observe of the bill. The reverse features Tikal Temple I, one of the largest Mesoamerican pyramids and a widely recognizable symbol of Guatemala.

1 Guatemalan Quetzal Bill

1 Guatemalan Quetzal Bill

General José María Orellana who was Guatemala’s President in 1921-1926 and who created the quetzal currency in 1923, is portrayed on the front of the one quetzal bill. The building of the Banco de Guatemala (National Guatemalan Bank) is depicted on the reverse.

5 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

5 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

The obverse features General Justo Rufino Barrios, the President of Guatemala in 1873-1885, who was known for his liberal views and attempts to unite the Central America. A true patriot of his country, was killed in action during the Chalchuapa Battle. The reverse is a metaphor of literacy and education.

10 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

10 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

The obverse bears a portrait of another Guatemalan politician Miguel García Granados who served as the country’s president in 1871-1873. His most enduring contribution to the country’s history is the creation of the Guatemalan national flag which remained virtually unchanged since 1871. A session of the National Legislative Assembly is shown on the reverse.

20 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

20 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

20 quetzales bill continues the tradition of showing Guatemalan presidents on the obverse with Doctor Mariano Gálvez who was Head of State between 1831 and 1838 and vehemently opposed the influence on the Roman Catholic Church on the country’s politics. The reverse shows the Signing of the Act of Independence of Guatemala.

50 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

50 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

The obverse shows Carlos Zachrisson, Chancellor of the Exchequer and a crucial promoter of the banking reform in 1923-1926. It was due to his efforts that the Guatemalan quetzal was pegged to the value of the American Dollar. On the reverse there is a depiction of Guatemalan peasants harvesting coffee.

100 Guatemalan Quetzales Bills

100 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

The obverse commemorates Francisco Marroquín, the first Bishop of Guatemala, who was renowned for his knowledge of indigenous languages and efforts to protect the natives of the Guatemalan region. One of modern Guatemalan universities is named after him. The reverse shows the interior view of another Guatemalan university, that of San Carlos de Borromeo.

200 Guatemalan Quetzales Bills

200 Guatemalan Quetzales Bill

A trio of national Guatemalan composers and marimba players, Sebastian Hurtado, Mariano Valverde, and German Alcántara, is portrayed on the observe. The reverse is a picture of marimba itself. If you have a smartphone and explored the different melodies it can play, you may know exactly how marimba sounds if you ever came across of the ringtone of the same name.

Send Money to Guatemala Online via Sharemoney

Sharemoney is proud to feature Guatemala among the other Central American countries in its transfer network. Guatemala’s large dependency on money remittance (more than 8% of its GDP is made of international remittances) calls for special attention when it comes to enabling Guatemalan citizens living and working overseas to send money home. Sharemoney has been committed to facilitating quick money transfers to Guatemala in both USD and quetzales. Sharemoney not only partners with all the major payors banks in Guatemala (including Banco Industrial, Banrural, Banco Azteca, Banco G&T Continental and City), but also offers one of the most competitive exchange rates for the Guatemalan quetzal. Go to Sharemoney’s Guatemalan page to learn more about how you can send money to Guatemala online in a better, cheaper and more convenient way.

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