The real is the present-day currency
of Brazil. Its sign is R$ and its ISO code is BRL. It is subdivided into 100 centavos („hundredths”). In Brazil, the decimal separator is a comma, and a period may be used as thousands separator, as in „R$ 123.456,78”.
The modern real was introduced in 1994 as part of the Plano Real, a substantial monetary reform package that aimed to put an end to three decades of rampant inflation. At the time it was meant to have approximately fixed 1:1 exchange rate with the United States dollar. It suffered a sudden devaluation to a rate of about 2:1 in 1999, reached almost 4:1 in 2002, then partly recovered and has been approximately 2:1 since 2006. The exchange rate as of April 26, 2011 is BRL 1.57 to USD 1.00.
In Portuguese the word real means both „royal” and „real”. The name of the historic real derived from the first sense. The name of the modern currency is generally understood to refer both to the historic unit and to the second sense.
Summary information about Real
- ISO 4217 Code:
- Currency sign:
- 5 centavos, 1 centavo, 10 centavos, 25 centavos, 50 centavos, 1 real
- 2 reais, 5 reais, 10 reais, 20 reais, 50 reais, 100 reais
- Central bank:
- Central Bank of Brazil
The modern real (plural reais) was introduced on July 1, 1994, during the presidency of Itamar Franco, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the Minister of Finance, as part of a broader plan to stabilize the Brazilian economy, known as the Plano Real. The new currency replaced the short-lived cruzeiro real (CR$). The reform included the demonetization of the cruzeiro real and required a massive banknote replacement.
At its introduction, the real was defined to be equal to 1 unidade real de valor (URV, „real value unit”) a non-circulating currency unit. At the same time the URV was defined to be worth 2750 cruzeiros reais, which was the average exchange rate of the U.S. dollar
to the cruzeiro real on that day. As a consequence, the real was worth exactly one US dollar as it was introduced. Combined with all previous currency changes in the country's history, this reform made the new real equal to 2.75 x 1018 (2.75 quintillion) of Brazil’s first currency, which was called „réis”.
Soon after its introduction, the real unexpectedly gained value against the U.S. dollar, due to large capital inflows in late 1994 and 1995. During that period it attained its maximum dollar value ever, about US$ 1.20. Between 1996 and 1998 the exchange rate was tightly controlled by the Central Bank, so that the real depreciated slowly and smoothly in relation to the dollar, rising from near 1:1 to about 1.2:1 by the end of 1998. In January 1999 the Central Bank, under its new president Arminio Fraga, released its control. The Real suffered sudden and unexpected maxi-devaluation, to a rate of almost R$2 : US$1.
In the following years, the currency’s value against the dollar followed an erratic but mostly downwards path from 1999 until late 2002, when the prospect of the election of leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, considered a radical populist by sectors of the financial markets, prompted another currency crisis and a spike in inflation. Many Brazilians feared another default on government debts or a resumption of heterodox economic policies, and rushed to exchange their reais into tangible assets or foreign currencies. In October 2002 the exchange rate reached its historic low of almost R$4 per US$1. The crisis subsided once Lula took office, after he, his finance minister Antonio Palocci, and Arminio Fraga reaffirmed their intention to continue the orthodox macroeconomic policies of his predecessor (including inflation-targeting, primary fiscal surplus and floating exchange rate, as well as continued payments of the public debt). The value of the real in dollars continued to fluctuate but generally upwards, so that by 2005 the exchange was a little over R$2 : US$1. In May 2007, for the first time since 1999, the real became worth more than US$ 0.50 — even though the Central Bank, concerned about its effect on the Brazilian economy, had tried to keep it below that symbolic threshold.
In 1994, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and 1 real. All were struck in stainless steel. They remain legal tender but since December 31, 1997 they are being slowly withdrawn from circulation by the Central Bank.
In 1998, a second series of coins was introduced. It featured copper-plated steel coins of 1 and 5 centavos, brass-plated steel coins of 10 and 25 centavos, a cupronickel 50 centavos coin, and a bi-coloured brass and cupronickel coin of 1 real. However, from 2002 onwards, steel was used for the 50 centavos coin and the central part of the 1 real coin.
In November 2005, the Central Bank discontinued the production of 1 centavo coins, but the existing ones continue to be legal tender. Retailers now generally round their prices to the next 5 or 10 centavos.
The Brazilian Central Bank has also issued special commemorative versions of the 1 real coin on special occasions. These coins are legal tender and differ from the standard ones only on the reverse side.
In 1994, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 reais. These were followed by 2 reais in 2000 and 20 reais in 2001. In December 31, 2005, BCB discontinued the production of the 1 real banknote, but it remains legal tender.
In April 2000, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese arrival on Brazilian shores, the Brazilian Central Bank released a polymer 10 real banknote that circulates along with the other banknotes above. The Brazilian Mint printed 250 million of these notes, which at the time accounted for about half of the 10 real banknotes in circulation.
BRL banknotes pictures gallery
|Banknote of 2 Reais has dimensions 140×65 mm and main colors are pastel blue, aurometalsaurus and light slate gray. |
Obverse side of the 2 Reais is showing an effigy of the Republic, portrayed as a sculpture.
Reverse side of the 2 Reais is showing a picture of a Hawksbill Turtle one of the five sea turtle species found in the Brazilian coast.
|Banknote of 5 Reais has dimensions 140×65 mm and main colors are pastel purple, wild blue yonder and old lavender. |
Obverse side of the 5 Reais is showing an effigy of the Republic, portrayed as a sculpture.
Reverse side of the 5 Reais is showing a picture of a great egret (Casmerodius albus), long-legged wading bird (Family Ardeidae). Species representative of the fauna found in the Brazilian territory.
|Banknote of 10 Reais has dimensions 140×65 mm and main colors are tea rose, pale chestnut and old rose. |
Obverse side of the 10 Reais is showing an effigy of the Republic, portrayed as a sculpture.
Reverse side of the 10 Reais is showing a picture of a Greenwing Macaw (Ara chloreptera), large colorful parrot of the Psittacidae family. It is found in the Brazilian territory and in other Latin-American countries.
|Banknote of 20 Reais has dimensions 140×65 mm and main colors are vegas gold, pearl and copper. |
Obverse side of the 20 Reais is showing an effigy of the Republic, portrayed as a sculpture.
Reverse side of the 20 Reais is showing a picture of a Golden Lion Tamarin (Leonthopitecus rosalia), reddish orange to golden brown primate and with long tail, native to the Atlantic forest of Brazil. It is a symbol of the struggle for the preservation of endangered Brazilian species.
|Banknote of 50 Reais has dimensions 140×65 mm and main colors are desert sand, tan, wheat and light taupe. |
Obverse side of the 50 Reais is showing an effigy of the Republic, portrayed as a sculpture.
Reverse side of the 50 Reais is showing a picture of a Jaguar (Panthera onca), large and beautiful feline, threatened with extinction, but still found mainly in the Amazon Basin and in the Mato Grosso forests.
|Banknote of 100 Reais has dimensions 140×65 mm and main colors are wild blue yonder, gainsboro and xanadu. |
Obverse side of the 100 Reais is showing an effigy of the Republic, portrayed as a sculpture.
Reverse side of the 100 Reais is showing a picture of a Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), fish of the family Serranidae, and it is one of the most known found in the Brazilian coast.
- About Central Bank of Brazil:
- Central Bank of Brazil
- List of currencies:
- Security and design features of BRL banknotes:
- BRL banknotes
- BRL currency on Wikipedia:
- Official Website of Central Bank of Brazil:
- Commemorative coins:
- Commemorative Coins