The real is the official currency of Brazil. Like many Latin American currencies, it is subdivided into 100 centavos. Although the real has a long history in Brazil, the current real was introduced only in 1994 under a program designed to halt over 30 years of high inflation. The new real was originally valued on par with the U.S. dollar, although in an extremely roundabout way. The actual value was set at one real value unit (RVU). The RVU was a non-circulating currency worth 2750 cruzeiros reais against the U.S. dollar, and the first real was set at a one-to-one ratio with the RVU. The Brazilian Real gained value against the U.S. dollar off and on for two years, but it devalued rapidly after that. By 1999, the real was at half its original value, and by 2002, it was at a quarter of its original value. The real has since rebounded but it has never yet met up to the U.S. dollar.
The currency of Brazil is issued and regulated by the Banco Central do Brasil, the Central Bank of Brazil. It is an autonomous authority within the Brazilian government. The Central Bank was established in 1964 as part of the National Financial System to replace the former monetary authority, the Currency and Credit Superintendence, the National Treasury and the Banco do Brasil, all of which had different duties necessary for maintaining the country’s currency. The Banco Central do Brasil. In 1985, the financial system of the country was restructured yet again until all of the financial authority had passed to the Banco Central do Brasil.
The Brazilian real is circulated through a series of coins and banknotes, both of which are produced internally by the Casa da Moeda do Brasil. The first series of coins were all struck in stainless steel. The original denominations were 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos and 1 real. These coins remain legal tender, but they were replaced by a second series in 1998 that were minted from copper-plated steel, cupronickel and brass. The original series of banknotes for the new Brazilian real was issued in 1994. The original denominations were 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 reals. In 2000 and 2001, two new denominations were issued: the 2-real note and the 20-real note. Also, in 2000, a commemorative 10-real note was issued made of polymers instead of paper. It is used side-by-side with the paper 10-real note.