The Brazilian real, symbol R$, code BRL, is the official currency of Brazil, a South American country of nearly 194 million people. The $ symbol used with the real, called the cifrão, is similar to the dollar sign, but always expressed with two vertical lines instead of one. Each real is divided into 100 centavos subunits. The word “real” means both “real” and “royal” in Portuguese, and is written as reais in the plural form. The real is managed by the Central Bank of Brazil in Brasília.
The Brazilian real was introduced in 1994 under the Plano Real of then-president Itamar Franco with the purpose of stabilizing the fickle economic condition of the nation over the preceding 30 years. The Brazilian real replaced the cruzeiro real and when first introduced, was valued at a ratio of 1 BRL:1 USD. The real then enjoyed an unexpected rise in value against the U.S. dollar, peaking at 1.20 BRL equal to 1.00 USD. In 1999 the real experienced a sudden depreciation down to nearly 2:1 to the USD, and continuted to fall between the years of 1999 to 2002. In 2002, the real reached a low value of historic proportions, down to nearly 4 reais to each U.S. dollar. Upon the election of Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva, the real took an upward turn to approximately 2:1 USD by 2005. As of November 2012, 1 real was equal to 0.4790 U.S. dollars. Real coins were released in 2 series: series 1 from 1994-1997 is slowly being removed from circulation, series 2 in 1998 introduced 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 centavo coins and R$1 real coins. 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 reais notes were released in 1994, 2 reais were introduced in 2000, 20 reais notes were introduced in 2001.
Name: Brazilian real, reais (plural)
Symbol: R$ (cifrão)
Decimal Unit: 1/100th centavos
Coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos; R$1
Notes: R$2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100
Central Bank: Central Bank of Brazil
The real is currently in circulation in coin denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos, and R$1, while banknotes are in circulation in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 reais. Both the R$1 note and the 1 centavo coin were discontinued in 2006.
Coins were first introduced in stainless steel, and were later replaced by copper-plated, brass-plated, and cupronickel coins. All coins feature the Southern Cross constellation on their front side and famous figures and national symbols on their reverse side. All real banknotes display the Effigy of the Republic on their front side and animals native to Brazil on their reverse side, such as the Green-winged Macaw shown on the 10 reais note. Each banknote is a different color according to its value denomination.