Cambodian Riel

A great leap will not necessarily find secure landing on both feet. But Cambodia, even with their failure in adopting a barter system, found ways to eventually reintroduce money and start building an economy of their own.

The Cambodian riel took on the challenge of coping with the major currencies of the world. Due to the imposition of barter by the Khmer Rouge, the currency disappeared for a while. In 1980, the circulation of riel returned with its value being 4 KHR to 1 USD. By that time, the economy was still adjusting with the use of a monetary system again. The new riel was practically given away to the people (since there was no former money to substitute with the new) so it could start circulating quickly. The US dollar stayed behind however, and was still preferred in most of the urban areas of Cambodia.

The riel originated from the Spanish dollar, pieces of eight, widely traded around Southeast Asia. It was not until 1953 that it became Cambodia’s official currency. Their first machine made coin was actually the tical, which weighed around 15 grams of silver. Although later, with invasion of the French Indochina, piastre was introduced. This was at par with riel in that time.

The denominations of the Cambodian riel in notes are 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, and 50000 KHR. The current exchange rate is 4000 KHR per 1 USD. This makes it quite impossible to produce lower denominations which will have less worth in the foreign market. The riel would only be of use locally.

In light of the bill designs, Cambodia’s wat (temples) dominated most of the patterns, with its vibrant colors breaking the monochromatic standard in currency layout. But the arrangement of the country’s famous spots on paper actually matched a beneficial purpose. The businesses have launched a campaign aiming to promote Cambodian tourism. This assigned the official currency a significant job; to be a symbol of the preservation of its heritage. While it is still in circulation, it will be the support in promoting the arts, culture, and nature of Cambodia.

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