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Currency Spotlight: Eastern Caribbean Dollar

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

The Eastern Caribbean dollar was introduced in the 1960’s and is now used by 8 East Caribbean states. Each country is unique but through the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States they are growing more interdependent and prosperous. If you are travelling to Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines or the British overseas territories of Anguilla and Montserrat you’re gonna need to buy Eastern Caribbean dollars.

Fast Facts: Eastern Caribbean Dollar

  • Symbol: $ or EC$
  • Currency Code: XCD
  • Subunits: cent (1/100)
  • Coins: 5, 10, 25 cents, $1, $2
  • Banknotes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
  • Central Bank: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

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History

The Eastern Caribbean dollar is used by Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the British overseas territories of Anguilla and Montserrat – all of which are members of the East Caribbean Currency Union (OECS). The British Virgin Islands and Martinique are the only OECS members not to use the XCD.

Despite British rule over what would later become the OECS, the most common currency in the 17th and 18th century was the Spanish dollar (often called Spanish pieces of eight). In 1704 Queen Anne’s proclamation introduced the gold standard to the West Indies. British sterling coins were introduced by way of an imperial order in 1825. The pound was initially introduced at a rate of 1 Spanish dollar to 4 shilling and 4 pence, later corrected to $1 to 4 shilling and 2 pence. Despite this, Spanish pieces of eight continued to circulate until the late 19th century. In 1949 the British introduced the British West Indies dollar, which was eventually replaced in 1965 by the Eastern Caribbean dollar.

Notes and Coins

In July of 2015, 1 and 2 cent coins were taken out of circulation but will remain legal tender until 2020.

ValueObverseReverse
1 centQueen Elizabeth IIValue, year of minting, a two branch wreath and “East Caribbean States”
2 centsQueen Elizabeth IIValue, year of minting, a two branch wreath and “East Caribbean States”
5 centsQueen Elizabeth IIValue, year of minting, a two branch wreath and “East Caribbean States”
10 centsQueen Elizabeth IIValue, year of minting, a two branch wreath and “East Caribbean States”
25 centsQueen Elizabeth IIValue, year of minting, a two branch wreath and “East Caribbean States”
1 dollarQueen Elizabeth IIValue, year of minting, a two branch wreath and “East Caribbean States”

Banknotes were first issued in denominations of 1, 5, 20 and 100 dollars. $1 notes were discontinued in 1989 and $50 notes were brought into circulation in 1993.

Value (dollars)ObverseReverse
10Queen Elizabeth II, turtle, Green-throated caribMap of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, a tropical fish, Admiralty Bay, and a brown pelican
20Queen Elizabeth II, turtle, Green-throated caribNutmeg, Montserrat, Government House
50Queen Elizabeth II, turtle, Green-throated caribThe twin peaks of Les Pitons Volcano in Saint Lucia, tropical fish, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park
100Queen Elizabeth II, turtle, Green-throated caribSir William Arthur Lewis, Map of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, tropical fish

Value

Since 1976, the Eastern Caribbean dollar has been pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 2.70 XCD to 1 USD. As a result, the Eastern Caribbean dollar has risen steadily against the Canadian dollar in recent years.

XCD CAD Canadian dollar East Caribbean rate watch graph 5 years

XCD to 1 CAD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

Economy

The 10 current members of the Organisation of East Caribbean States range in size from a population of just 5,879 in Montserrat to 386,486 in Martinique – so the OECS economies are difficult to define. Martinique is part of France, and therefore the European Union, so it uses the euro and services make up over 80% of GDP. Montserrat, meanwhile, is officially a British Overseas Territory and is funded almost entirely by the British government.

Only 8 OECS countries use the Eastern Caribbean dollar. However, despite the economic diversity within the OECS, further integration will lead to greater political and economic cooperation and prosperity.

basseterre st kits waterfront harbor town caribbean

Basseterre, St. Kitts – home of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

Final Thoughts

The OECS and the Eastern Caribbean dollar are relatively new in the global economy, but both are growing more strong and stable.

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