The year 2000: Y2K, 8th grade, N’Sync, and the introduction of Sacagawea dollars! I feel like there was quite a fuss made over these, at least in my history class. But after the excitement of seeing the female Native American I had never, until then, heard about on a coin, I kind of forgot they existed. They seemed to fizzle out.
Perhaps in the US, that is. They are everywhere in Ecuador! Did you know that Ecuador uses the USD? When I read that before coming, I couldn’t believe it, and even a few of my South American friends told me that venders probably accepted USD, but that they used another currency normally. No, in the year 2000 (another thing to add to the list at the top), the president of Ecuador (Jamil Malhuad) decided that, in an effort to stabilize the economy, the country would no longer use sucres, but dollars. As you can imagine, this is super duper convenient for me. When I was in Ireland, Jamaica, Guatemala- well, really, every other country I’ve ever been to, my mind had to constantly solve proportion problems in order to figure out how much anything would cost me, in the currency I was used to. Here, there’s no calculating! For the most part, the same dollars that I earn in the US go a long way. Taxi rides in Riobamba cost $1. I bought ice cream today (which is really more like a popsickle, but that’s okay) for 25 centavos (cents). You can buy a 3 course lunch for $2. But then clothes and technological items are about the same, if not more.
But, yeah, those Sacagawea dollars are everywhere here!! Much more common than $1 bills. Today, Reyna and I were out doing some shopping. I gave a cashier a $20 bill for something that cost $16.35 and she opened up the cash register and opened a brand new clear bag filled with dollar coins. Wikipedia even mentions this phenomenon:
The series proved unpopular in everyday commerce. Mintage dropped by 90% the following year. From 2002 through 2008, Sacagawea dollars were only struck for sale to collectors. The Federal Reserve Bank ordered none of the Native American series after their issuance beginning in 2009. In December 2009, it was noted by a Federal Reserve official that there were currently 857,000,000 dollar coins (including Presidential dollars) in government storage vaults, an amount estimated to satisfy the demand for twelve years.
Despite their unpopularity in the United States, the coins proved popular for commerce in Ecuador, a nation that uses the United States dollar.
There’s your interesting Ecuadorian monetary tidbit for the day!