The Republic of Costa Rica (Republica de Costa Rica) is a country in Central America. It is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Its name means “rich coast” in Spanish. Costa Rica is one of the most stable and most democratic government in Central America. It has a highly stable economy and its literacy rate is one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
The current monetary unit in Costa Rica is the colon, derived from the Spanish translation of Christopher Columbus’ name: Cristobal Colon. It is speculated that Columbus was able to visit Costa Rica and gave Costa Rica its name. Before the colon, Costa Rica used the peso. The colon was introduced at par to the peso in 1896, 70 years after Costa Rica declared its independence from Spain. The first colon banknotes began their circulation in 1896. In 1935, Banco Internacional de Costa Rica (International Bank of Costa Rica) was established. The bank was reorganized at the end of 1936, with the Banco Nacional de Costa (National Bank of Costa Rica) Rica taking over its issuing authority. In 1950, the Banco Central de Costa Rica (Central Bank of Costa Rica) was established and assumed all responsibilities for currency issues. Early colon banknotes issued by the Banco Central did not have security threads or watermarks and featured a portrait of a national hero in front and a significant landmark at the back. Instead of watermarks and security threads, these notes were protected by randomly embedded colored security fibers. In 1968, more colorful and secure banknotes were issued. These banknotes included security threads and watermarks as the security features, and some notes featured artworks instead of landmarks. In 1971, the Central Bank issued a commemorative family to celebrate 150 years of independence. These banknotes had 150 ANOS DE INDEPENDENCIA. 1821/1971 overprints on the right front side of the note. In 1975, the Central Bank issued 800,000 5-colon banknotes with the XXV ANIVERSARIO BANCO CENTRAL DE COSTA RICA. 1950/1975 to commemorate the bank’s 25th anniversary. The Central Bank also issued a newly designed family of banknotes in the same year with the 50-colon banknote being the smallest denomination. The 50-colon banknote of this family also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Banco de Costa Rica by featuring its original headquarters on the reverse side. In 1991, larger denominations were introduced in response to the high inflation rate. These notes were designed by two artists. The 2,000 and 10,000 colon banknote designs were by Marco Morales Salazar and the 5,000 colon banknote was designed by Leonidas Correa. These colorful banknotes showcased the biodiversity of Costa Rica on the reverse side. A commemorative series was released in 2000 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Central Bank which featured an overprint of 50 ANIVERSARIO BCCR on the right front side of the notes. In 2009, the Central Bank introduced new designs based on Fernando Zeledon’s original drawings. These banknotes have a more cohesive color scheme, featured prominent men and women and landmarks in Costa Rican history on the obverse side, and showcased the different ecosystems and endemic species on the reverse side. These banknotes also have heightened security features. In 2019, the Central Bank of Costa Rica decided to print all their banknotes on polymer substrate as an added anti-counterfeiting measure.