The gourde is the official currency of Haiti. The currency is subdivided into 100 centimes. Since obtaining independence from France, the gourde has been issued by the Bank of the Republic of Haiti. The gourde has gone through several reintroductions through the years in order to maintain its value. For most of the 20th century, the gourde was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 5 HTG: 1 USD. Although the currency now floats on the exchange, 5 gourdes are still referred to as a Haitian dollar, and 5 centimes are called a Haitian penny.
The first Haitian gourde was introduced in 1813 while Haiti was fighting France for independence. It replaced the livre at a rate of 1 gourde: 8 livre 5 sous. An attempt to establish the Bank of Haiti was made in 1826 and again in 1875, but these plans did not come to fruition until 1880. In the interim, a second gourde and third gourde were introduced. The second gourde had a lifetime of only two years. It was introduced in 1870 at a value of 1 second gourde: 10 first gourdes and was circulated only as a series of banknotes. The third gourde was introduced in 1872 due to severe devaluation and was originally valued at 1 third gourde: 300 second gourdes. The new gourde was pegged to the French franc at a rate of 1 gourde: 5 francs, but this peg lasted only until 1912. From 1912 to 1989, the Haitian gourde was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 5 gourdes: 1 dollar.
In 1979, the banking system of Haiti was reformed. Banking duties were split between two national banks: the Bank of the Republic of Haiti became the central bank and the National Credit Bank was created to perform commercial banking services.
As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the economy of Haiti is largely dependent on the international community and donor nations. More than 80 percent of the population of Haiti lives under the poverty level. When aid to the country from the United States and the European Union stopped in 2000, the economy suffered dramatically. When aid was resumed in 2004, the economy began an upward trend, but collapsed again following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Natural disasters have traditionally been one of the greatest factors in keeping the Haitian economy from any type of long-term growth.