Written on May 19, 2017 • Last edit: February 7, 2019
See the French article

Brazil is a country located in South America.

In 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral, a Portuguese sailor who was heading to India for trading purposes, missed his route and berthed in the Brazilian coast. In that year, Portugal claimed the territory as a colony, aiming to find some kind of wealth, which led the territory to its commercial fate.
The land was explored by the settlers for extracting brazilwood, planting sugar cane and mining gold, silver and diamonds until the year of 1816, when it was promoted to a constituent kingdom of United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. In September the 7th of 1822, Dom Pedro I proclaimed independence, creating the Brazilian Empire, which lasted until 1889, when it became a republic, that still remains to this day.


Colony and United Kingdom
Over the first half of the 16th century, Portugal neglected the territory, so the first currency just arrived in 1580. By that time, Portugal was under the Spanish domains, due to the Iberian Union, which brought the Spanish Reales to the colony.
The first coins done in the colony were the Dutch Guilder, minted on gold pieces, whilst the Dutch ruled the northeast territory. As the Dutch were expelled in 1654, the Portuguese crown, now independent from Spain, introduced the Portuguese Real. The first Brazilian mint house was only created in 1694. The Real was the official currency from 1654 to 1818, when the Rio de Janeiro mint house made the first coins of the state of Brazil.

In 1822, first year of the Empire, one of Brazil's most important coin was minted: The Coronation Piece. It represented the beginning of the Brazilian Real era, which remained until 1942.
The imperial Réis were minted in copper, bronze, copper-nickel, silver and gold, generally carrying the emperor's effigy or the empire's coat.

Since the proclamation of the republic in 1889, the currency passed through several changes (not only on their design). The first republican Réis had the bust of the liberty or the new coat of arms, replacing the imperial symbols. Due to a fascist revolutionary movement, the Réis gave place to the Cruzeiro in 1942.
Since that time, the inflation caused constant changes to the currency, all listed below:
  • 1942-1967: Cruzeiros
  • 1967: three zeros were cut from the Cruzeiros, creating the New Cruzeiro (Cruzeiro novo)
  • 1970: the New Cruzeiro turns back into Cruzeiro
  • 1986: three zeros were cut again, creating the Cruzados
  • 1989: another cut of three zeros creates the New Cruzado (Cruzado novo)
  • 1990: again, the New Cruzado were changed by Cruzeiros
  • 1993: three more zeros were cut, creating the Cruzeiro Real
  • 1994: a huge push to beat the inflation results on the Real, which lasts until today.

Comparative Table

Period Calendar Years Currency Languages
Colony Gregorian 1500-1816 Dutch Guilder, Spanish Reales,
Portuguese Réis
Dutch, Spanish,
Portuguese, Latin
Kingdom Gregorian 1816-1822 Réis Portuguese, Latin
Empire Gregorian 1822-1889 Réis Portuguese, Latin
Republic Gregorian 1889-now Réis, Cruzeiros, Cruzeiros novos,
Cruzados, Cruzados novos,
Cruzeiros reais, Reais

Currency divisions

Name in Portuguese Name in English Plural Divisions
Florim Guilder Florins •16 penningen = 8 duiten = 1 stuiver
• 20 stuivers = 1 guilder
Real - Réis •Vintém = 20 réis
•Tostão = 80 réis (colony and empire), 100 réis (republic)
•Pataca = 320 réis
•Cruzado = 400 / 480 réis
•Patacão = 960 réis
•Dobra = 12.800 réis
•Dobrão = 20.000 réis
Cruzeiro - Cruzeiros 100 centavos = 1 cruzeiro
Cruzeiro novo New cruzeiro Cruzeiros novos 100 centavos = 1 cruzeiro
Cruzado - Cruzados 100 centavos = 1 cruzado
Cruzado novo New cruzado Cruzados novos 100 centavos = 1 cruzado novo
Cruzeiro real - Cruzeiros reais 100 centavos = 1 cruzeiro real
Real - Reais 100 centavos = 1 real

National Symbols


Coat of arms

Portuguese empire coat of arms

United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves

Kingdom coat of arms


Imperial coat of arms


Republican coat of arms