Two new banknotes are beginning to hit the streets

Pretty soon Costa Ricans will be saying una plastica when they mean a 1,000-colon bill.

The new emission that is coming out this week is just one of two, but it is the only bill that is being made of a plastic material that is supposed to wear three times as long as the current cotton fiber paper.

The 1,000-colon bill is seven millimeters narrower than the 2,000-colon bills. That’s about a quarter of an inch, and enough so that someone can determine the denomination by touch. The 1,000-colon bill is 4.92 inches wide or 125 millimeters. The 2,000 colon bill is 5.2 inches or 132 millimeters.

139 x 67 mm with image of Alfredo González Flores

Soon to be released is the 5,000-colon bill that will be 139 millimeters wide or nearly 5.5 inches. The 20,000-colon bill that was released Sept. 22 is a bit wider than 6 inches at 153 millimeters.

The key point for expats is that they must spend the old versions of the paper money by Sept. 1 or they will have to take the bills to the bank for conversion into the new, colorful currency. Banks will continue to accept the old bills until Nov. 1. After that only the Banco Central will make the exchanges, the bank said.

A statement from the Banco Central said that many of the bills now in circulation are at the end of their useful life.

The bank plans to issue a new 10,000-colon bill and a much sought 50,000-colon bill that will have a value similar to the U.S. $100 bill. The largest bill in circulation now is the 20,000-colon bill that seems to have failed to win favor with the public. Many retail stores will not accept them.

The man pictured on the 1,000-colon bill is Braulio Carrillo Colina, a former president who was ousted in a coup led by Francisco Morazan in 1842. Carrillo fled to El Salvador where he was assassinated three years later.

Academic Mauro Fernández Acuña is on the 2,000-colon bill. He was a politician and educator who helped found the Liceo de Costa Rica, the Instituto de Alajuela, and the Colegio Superior de Señoritas,

Another coup victim, Alfredo González Flores, will be on the 5,000-colon bill. He was ousted in 1917 by his war minister, Federico Tinoco, after being distinguished for a number of monetary reforms.

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