The balboa (sign: B/.; ISO 4217: PAB) is, along with the United States dollar, one of the official currencies of Panama. It is named in honor of the Spanish explorer/conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The balboa is subdivided into 100 centésimos.
The balboa replaced the Colombian peso in 1904 following the country's independence. With the exception of a fluctuation in 2016, the balboa has been tied to the United States dollar (which is also legal tender in Panama) at an exchange rate of 1:1 since its introduction and has always circulated alongside dollars.
In 1904, silver coins in denominations of 2 1⁄2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centésimos were introduced. These coins were weight-related to the 25-gram 50 centésimos, making the 2 1⁄2-centésimos coin 1.25 grams. Its small size led to it being known as the "Panama pill" or the "Panama pearl". In 1907, copper-nickel 1⁄2- and 2 1⁄2-centésimo coins were introduced, followed by copper-nickel 5-centésimo coins in 1929. In 1930, coins for 1⁄10, 1⁄4, and 1⁄2 balboa were introduced, followed by 1 balboa in 1931, which were identical in size and composition to the corresponding U.S. coins. In 1935, bronze 1-centésimo coins were introduced, with 1¼-centésimo pieces minted in 1940.
In 1966, Panama followed the U.S. in changing the composition of their silver coins, with copper-nickel-clad 1⁄10 and 1⁄4 balboa, and .400 fineness ½ balboa. One-balboa coins, at .900 fineness silver, were issued that year for the first time since 1947. In 1973, copper-nickel-clad 1⁄2-balboa coins were introduced. 1973 also saw the revival of the 2 1⁄2-centésimos coin, which had a size similar to that of the U.S. half dime, but these were discontinued two years later due to lack of popular demand. In 1983, 1-centésimo coins followed their U.S. counterpart by switching from copper to copper-plated zinc. Further issues of the 1-balboa coins have been made since 1982 in copper-nickel without reducing its size.
Modern 1-, 5-centésimo, 1⁄10-, 1⁄4-, and 1⁄2-balboa coins are the same weight, dimensions, and composition as the U.S. cent, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar, respectively. In 2011, new 1-balboa bimetallic coins were issued that are the same dimensions as the U.S. dollar coin.
In addition to circulating issues, commemorative coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and 500 balboas have also been issued.