Nicaragua Currency Guide: The Córdoba

The official currency of Nicaragua is the córdoba, which is divided into 100 centavos. Its international currency code is NIO and its symbol is C$.

The history of the córdoba dates back to 1912, when the original córdoba officially replaced the peso at a rate of 12 1/2 pesos per córdoba. The currency is named after the Spanish conquistador who founded Nicaragua, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba. It was originally pegged to the United States Dollar, but this policy was soon dropped.

After a long period of civil war, in 1988, the government issued the second córdoba, which replaced the first córdoba at a rate of 1000 first córdobas per second córdoba. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the country was embroiled in international controversy over the so-called “proxy war” taking place within it and was at some points under U.S. embargo. The economy was in ruins and inflation rates reached over 16,000%.

When the newly elected government administration of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro took power in the early 1990s, one of the policies implemented was to create a third córdoba, which replaced the second córdoba at a rate of 5,000,000 second córdobas per third córdoba. This new currency, issued in 1991, is also known as the córdoba oro. It is issued in both coins and banknotes. However, the coins were not issued until 1994. From 1991 to 1994, the currency had no official coins, and there were banknotes denominated in centavos. These notes were replaced when the new coins were issued in 1994.

The country and its currency have become much more stable in the years since, owing in part to the new government’s disarmament of conflict groups. However, the córdoba continues a slow slide against the USD, with one dollar being worth approximately 15.5 córdobas in December 2003 and falling steadily to approximately 21 córdobas in January 2010.