Kulture Keys: The Luka & China

In English we use a lot of different ways to describe money. Buck, stacks, benjamins, bill, wads, cash etc. In Peruvian culture there are also a couple slang terms to talk about money. You hear them getting used all the time so it’s important to know what they are and how to use them. Additionally, like other slang terms, they add authenticity to your Spanish and locals love it when you use them.

Perhaps the one you hear the most is luka. Peruvian currency is the sol. So saying luka is like saying sol. If something costs 5 soles, you can also say it costs 5 lukas. The term luka most often gets used to for smaller money amounts, but every once and a while you will hear it getting used for larger numbers. Like when a new pair of shoe costs 150 lukas.

Another popular one is china. Pronounced chee-na. China gets used for 50 centimos (1/2 of 1 sol). Instead of saying something costs 50 centimos you can just say china. Hearing china by itself is sort of rare. It mostly gets combined with luka. For example, the bus fare is 1.50 soles. You could say that the bus costs a luka-china.

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