Imaginary Currency

Culture shock is hard enough to overcome, but can you imagine trying to learn an imaginary currency while adapting? In Haiti, their monetary transactions are often done in an “imaginary currency.” While we may think of imaginary currency as a credit card, it is a very different system in Haiti.

This economic system started with the Haitian livre because of the colonization of Haiti by France. The livre stood as the currency until the Haitian Revolution, when the Haitian Gourde was introduced. The conversion of the Gourde into other currencies was long and difficult, so to simplify things five Gourdes was seen as one Haitian dollar.

This was the case until the late 1980’s, when the official reckoning of the Haitian dollar was dropped. Although the official reckoning dropped, the practice of Haitian dollar’s is the most common in Haiti. Erin Taylor writes, “The Haitian dollar may well be imaginary. But then, so is all money, if you think about it.” The Haitian dollar is just as imaginary as a US dollar in this context. Both dollars are assigned an agreed upon worth, but that’s all it is. The only difference here is the actual printing of a dollar.