As part of a peacekeeping mission in 1992, $1.7 billion (£966m) flowed into Cambodia courtesy of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia and foreign investment in the country has been on the up and up ever since. The riel rode on the back of the dollar’s strength, to the extent that American money has since become Cambodia’s de facto currency. More than four decades after its introduction, the government is pushing for the riel to once again become the predominant currency.
In 2015 the National Bank of Cambodia unveiled a new strategy to encourage citizens to use riel and the country is currently going through a de-dollarisation process that involves phasing out small denominations of US bills. Cambodia also launched its 'Bakong' digital currency in October 2020. With 5.9 million users, according to NBC, it's one of only two central bank digital currencies in the world. As it stands, $1 is currently equivalent to 4,086.49 Cambodian riel.
The guaraní was first issued for circulation in the South American country of Paraguay in 1944, replacing the peso in the hope of curbing inflation. The transition wasn’t as effective as planned, and the guaraní has since seen excessive inflation and issues with banknote security drive down its value relative to the US dollar. In 1960 the guaraní was pegged to US currency at a rate of 126 guaraníes to the dollar, but the Paraguayan currency’s value continued to crumble on the black market and tumbled further when the US dollar peg was abandoned in 1985.
Since the 1980s, the value of the Paraguayan guaraní has plummeted. In 2011 the country’s government released plans for a new currency, the neuvo guaraní, which would have an exchange rate value of one nuevo guaraní per 1,000 guaraníes. The currency was due to come into circulation over a two-year transition period, but it never came to fruition. The country continues to battle with its banknote security problems and high inflation, and in 2016 introduced new 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 notes with upgraded anti-counterfeit features. One US dollar is currently equivalent to 6,985.33 Paraguayan guaraníes.
The Republic of Guinea is a rich source of minerals, gold and diamonds, as well as holding the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, which should make the country an economic powerhouse. Political instability in the nation has stunted economic growth however, and this was only worsened by the Ebola epidemic in 2014, which first reared its head in Guinea before spreading across Western Africa. One US dollar is currently equivalent to 9,074.17 Guinean francs.
The leone became Sierra Leone’s official currency when it replaced the British West African pound in 1964. As one of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone’s economy has consistently suffered from high inflation rates. The country has an abundance of diamonds but has fallen victim to the ‘resource curse’, with the precious stones fuelling corruption and civil war in the country rather than prosperity. In recent times the Ebola epidemic and low oil prices have further hit the economy and chipped away at the currency’s value.
Back in 1980, the Vietnamese dong was trading at 2.05 to the US dollar. Fast-forward to January 2022 and the rate of exchange has nose-dived to 22,675.9 dong to the dollar. The Vietnamese government has devalued the currency many times since the 1980s in order to boost exports, which has helped the country to become an increasingly attractive alternative to China on the global manufacturing stage. However, Vietnam’s national currency remains one of the weakest in the world. This can in part be attributed to its relative newness compared to long-established currencies, which leads investors to view the money as a riskier investment.
The dong can only be exchanged within Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos, and its coinage is no longer minted due to its incredibly low value. Denominations of the Vietnamese banknotes start at 1,000 and go up to 500,000. Confidence in the currency is so low that US dollars are widely used and largely preferred as a means to pay for goods and services, particularly by wealthier Vietnamese citizens and foreign tourists.
Ongoing turmoil in Iran has left the rial in tatters, and recent sharpening of US sanctions restricted the country’s access to the world commodity markets, further strangling the country’s economy and its currency. In its latest attempt to steady the national currency, the head of Iran's Central Bank announced in May 2020 that the rial would be renamed as the toman and four zeroes would be shaved from each denomination; this would see 10,000 rials be worth one toman. However, the currency change is unlikely to be put in place formally for several years.
In February 2021 the Central Bank introduced a 1 million rial note, which at the time had a value of just $4.10 (£2.98). The new note features the figure ‘100’ as part of the bank’s gradual move towards the toman, which is currently used as an informal currency to allow for easier transactions given the ever-increasing number of zeroes stacking up on the almost worthless rials. Political turmoil in neighbouring Afghanistan has only added further uncertainty to this incredibly unstable currency.
Venezuela is in the midst of an unprecedented political, social and economic crisis, and its currency is in freefall. A combination of the fluctuating price of oil, the country's principal resource, and misguided economic policies has almost bankrupted Venezuela and destroyed the bolívar (VEF), impoverishing the vast majority of citizens in the process. In 2012, the official bolívar to US dollar exchange rate stood at 2 bolívars per US dollar. Inflation skyrocketed and by August 2018 the government was forced to overhaul the country’s economy and introduced the petro, a cryptocurrency tied to the value of Venezuelan crude oil rather than American currency. Reports suggest the currency isn’t in use as it never really took off.
Later in 2018 the government shaved five zeroes off the bolívar fuertes (VEF) and renamed it the bolívar soberano (VES) in a bid to tame hyperinflation. It hasn’t worked and value of the bolívar continues to diminish day by day, with many in the country now relying on US dollars instead of their native currency. In August 2021 the country announced that new notes would be in circulation as of 1 October. That September, one US dollar was worth an astonishing 168 million bolívares soberano (VES), which is equivalent to an incredible 416.816 billion bolívares fuertes (VEF). Another six zeroes has been shaved from the bolívar in another attempt to battle hyperinflation. The government is also encouraging citizens to use the digital version of the currency, known as bolívar digital.