I'm wondering if there exists a country that uses the specific name "dollar" for their currency, without also using the concept where 1/100 of one dollar is called a "cent". Does such a currency exist?

I'm wondering where it might not make sense to use the expression "dollars and cents", or assume that a dollar always equals one hundred cents. So:

  • Do dollars and cents always go together, or is there a country where "dollar" is used, but "cents" are not the name of the fractional monetary unit – whether there is no fractional unit at all, or it is called something else?
  • When cents are used, are there always one hundred cents in a dollar? The origin for the word "cent" would seem to imply such.

1 dollar = 100 cents seems to be case in the handful of obvious dollar-based countries that come to mind (i.e. Canada, the U.S., Australia), but I'm not a world currency expert. Is there a counterexample? Thanks.

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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollar – DumbCoder May 31 '13 at 15:53
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    Yes, and quoting Wikipedia: "Generally, one dollar is equal to 100 cents." .. but no mention of counterexamples. Here, does generally = always ? Hence my question. – Chris W. Rea May 31 '13 at 15:54
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    For the sake of setting an example, I do feel like I should ask if this is based on an actual problem you face... (obviously, I answered the question nevertheless). – John Bensin May 31 '13 at 16:22
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    @JohnBensin My curiosity arose as I was writing some content for an app I'm developing. Admittedly, my app may only ever by used by Canadians, but I'm still curious about testing some assumptions we make about "dollar". – Chris W. Rea May 31 '13 at 17:14
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    @ChrisW.Rea: Interesting question. We beat this type of question to death on Coin Collecting boards ... there are quite a few variations and is always of interest to a numismatist – Dheer May 31 '13 at 17:59

Going through the list of economies that currently use the dollar, all of them list cents as a fractional unit. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, the 1/100 fractional unit is still called a cent, but it's no longer in circulation in coin form and only finds use in financial markets or electronic payments.

In countries like Malaysia, the word "sen" is used as the translation of the word "cent", even though the word for the actual currency, "ringgit", isn't a translation of the word "dollar".

A similar situation occurs in Panama. The local currency is called the balboa, and it's priced on par (1:1) with the US dollar. US banknotes are also accepted as legal tender, and Panamanians sometimes use the terms balboa/dollar interchangeably. The 1/100 subdivision of the balboa is the centésimo, which is merely a translation of cent. Like Malaysia, the fractional unit is called "cent" (or a translation) but the main unit isn't merely a translation of the word "dollar."

On a historical note, the Spanish Dollar was subdivided into 8 reales in order to match the German thaler (the word that forms the basis for the English word "dollar").

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    To further expand your historical note, that's also why 25 cents is "two bits" and you hear pirates talk of "pieces of eight". – ghoppe May 31 '13 at 17:11
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    @ghoppe I'd never heard the expression "two bits" to mean 25 cents (I've always just heard "two bit -something"). Thanks for pointing out the etymological basis for that and pieces of eight; I like the SE sites because I learn something new every day! – John Bensin May 31 '13 at 17:23
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    The eighth of a dollar was often used in share prices in the stock market until fairly recently, e.g. "Yesterday I was down one and seven-eighths but today I am up two and a quarter" – Dilip Sarwate May 31 '13 at 18:10
  • @DilipSarwate It never occurred to me that the old NYSE system was based on the Spanish system. Apparently the switch occurred in 2001. Since I was ten at the time I don't have any practical experience with that trading system (I started using the stock market in '06). – John Bensin May 31 '13 at 18:35

Wikipedia has a nice list of currencies that use "cents" and currencies that use 1/100th division that is not called "cent".

Cent means "100" in Latin (and French, and probably all the Roman family of languages), so if the currency is divided by 100 subunits - it will likely to be called "cent" or something similar in the local language.

The list of currencies (on the same page) where it is not the case is significantly shorter, and includes countries with relatively ancient currency units that were invented before the introduction of the decimal system (even though now they are in fact decimal they still kept the old names, like the British "pence" or the Russian "kopek").

The point is that "Dollar" and "cent" are not directly related, many currencies that are not called "Dollar" are using cents as well (Euro, among others). It just means "1/100th", and it is safe to assume that most (if not all) of the modern currencies are divided into 1/100th.

  • downvoter, please don't be shy and comment. – littleadv May 31 '13 at 19:43
  • +1 - the downvote was not me (I upvoted you) - just one thing - isn't the Euro actually called the Euro Dollar? – Victor May 31 '13 at 20:26
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    @Victor I think it was one of the options considered at the time, but no. Its called "Euro". – littleadv May 31 '13 at 20:34
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    @Victor Are you thinking of the term deposits called Eurodollars? – John Bensin May 31 '13 at 20:48
  • Yes John, I see why they are called Euros and not Eurodollars. However the cents are called Euro Cents. – Victor May 31 '13 at 20:50

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