Culture and traditions

The currency of Guatemala: history and curiosities of quetzal

The official currency of Guatemala is called quetzal, although this has not always been the currency used in the country. In this article, we tell you about the history of this currency from the beginning to the present, we give you information about its value compared to other currencies and we tell you some surprising data.

Below you have an index with all the points that we will deal with in this article.


Since 1925, the functional currency of Guatemala has the name of quetzal. Your ISO code is GTQ and its symbol Q. Before this, there were several currencies that were used in the country:


In pre-Columbian times, the Maya used some objects as currency: quetzal feathers, salt, volcanic rocks, cocoa, etc. After the arrival of the Spaniards, in the colonial era, the Spanish currency was used, which was circulating until the early nineteenth century.

The quetzal is a bird that lives in the mountainous jungle. It is a symbol of freedom and the national bird of Guatemala.

Then, after the independence of Central America in 1821, the currency of the Republic of Central America was set and, after the foundation of the Republic of Guatemala, the peso was established, which consisted of gold and silver coins, although later It began to be issued in paper money.

Also, at this time the circulation of foreign money was legal, as well as the Farm Tokens, own currencies of the coffee farms that they used to pay the workers.

However, in 1922, the Regulatory Fund is created and the weight is replaced by the quetzal, which is divided into one hundred cents. In 1924, after the enactment of several laws, the Central Bank of Guatemala was founded, which would be the only agency with the power to manufacture this currency.

Current currency

In 1925 the coins of 1 quetzal, 1/2 quetzal, 1/4 quetzal, ten cents and five cents in silver are minted, as well as one penny in copper. In 1926, those of 5, 10 and 20 quetzales in gold are produced. Later, in 1932, those of 1/2 cent and 2 cents, made of copper and zinc, arrive. Some of these currencies, such as 1/4 quetzal, are currently out of circulation.

After the October Revolution of 1944, with which a democratic stage arrives, a modern system of Central Banking emerges. After this, the right to issue the currency passes to the State.

In 1948 the first are manufactured banknotes 50 cents and 1, 5, 10, 20 and 100 quetzals. Likewise, coin minting continues. The last modification of one of them was in 1988, when the design of the back of the coin of a quetzal was changed.

Exchange rate

Below, you can see the equivalences between a Guatemalan quetzal and some of the most important currencies in America and Europe:

  • 1.00 GTQ = $ 0.14 (USD)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 2.54 Mexican pesos (MXN)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 393.39 Colombian pesos (COP)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 0.13 euros (EUR)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 90.34 Chilean pesos (CLP)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 1.36 Venezuelan Bolivars (FEV)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 2.10 Argentine pesos (ARS)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 0.44 Peruvian soles (PEN)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 75.54 Costa Rican colones (CRC)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 3.20 Honduran lempiras (HNL)
  • 1.00 GTQ = 6.43 Dominican pesos (PDO)

Currency exchange

If you are going to travel to Guatemala and want to get quetzals, you can exchange money at a currency exchange. You will find both airports and major cities.

Another option is to get money at an ATM or pay directly at establishments with your own credit or debit card.

However, you can also obtain this currency from your home country. Most banks carry out this transaction. However, they usually charge a commission and the exchange rate is usually lower than in the country of destination.

User Questions

Who invented the currency of Guatemala?

It was the government of General José María Orellana together with the finance and economy ministers who decided to create the quetzal in 1924. The role of Carlos Zachrisson, finance minister, was so prominent that his portrait can now be seen on the banknotes of 50 quetzales.

Why is the Guatemalan currency worth more than the Mexican peso?

This is because, at the time of the creation of the currencies, each country took different initial values. Currently, 1 Guatemalan quetzal is equivalent to 2.54 Mexican pesos.

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