10 of the World's Worst Currencies

The value of currency is determined by a number of factors.

The strength of currency of a country reflects the economic well-being of the nation. The stronger the currency, the more valuable it is, and higher is the purchasing power of the citizens of the country. Often, one of the ways of measuring this strength is by comparing it with a stronger and more stable currency of a developed nation. The US dollar is used in most cases for such comparisons. Below is a list of the world's weakest currencies.

10. Egyptian Pound

Egyptian pound bills.

Egypt uses the Egyptian pound as its official currency which is abbreviated as EGP. The Egyptian pound is also used as the official currency in the Gaza Strip. This currency is made up of 100 subunits known as piastres. The Egyptian pound was introduced to the economy in 1834 as a replacement of the piastre. However, civil unrest, fluctuating oil prices, and poor economic decisions have seen the Egyptian pound erode in value with the biggest decline seen between 1990 and 2010. By 2016, one US Dollar was exchanging for 18 Egyptian pounds.

9. Nigerian Naira

Nigerian Naira bills.

The naira is the official currency used in Nigeria and is abbreviated as NGN. The naira is comprised of subunits known as Kobo where one naira is equivalent to 100 Kobo. Nigeria issued the first naira in January 1971 replacing the pound at the rate of 1 pound being equal to 2 nairas, a relatively valuable rate at the time. However, in recent years the Nigerian economy faced turmoil due to civil strife and decreased global oil prices whose effects eroded the value of the naira. The Central Bank of Nigeria has unsuccessfully attempted to curb inflation by altering the key interest rate. One US dollar is currently exchanging for 307 Nairas.

8. North Korean won

Banknotes of North Korea.

The won is the official currency used in North Korea and is abbreviated as KPW in the money markets. The North Korean won is made up of 100 subunits known as chon. The won was introduced in 1947 and replaced the Korean yen. The won is exclusively used by the local citizens with foreign visitors required to use debit cards. Years of foreign sanctions and poor leadership has caused high inflation in the economy which has eroded the value of the won forcing the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to issue banknotes of up to 5000 won. One North Korean won exchanged for 0.007 US Dollars as of January 2017.

7. Guinean franc

Guinean francs.

The Guinea franc is the official currency of the western African nation of Guinea and is abbreviated as GNF in exchange markets. The Guinea franc is comprised of subunits known as centime where 100 centimes make one franc and were introduced in the economy in 1959 to replace the CFA franc. However, increased inflation caused the government to replace the franc with the syli in 1971 where one syli was equivalent to ten francs. However, deplorable economic conditions caused the franc to experience high inflation and made the Central Bank of the Republic of Guinea issue 20,000 franc banknotes. One US Dollar was exchanging for 9,368 Guinea Franc as of January 2017.

6. Lao kip

Lao kip banknotes.

The kip is the official currency used in Laos and is comprised of 100 subunits known as att. The Lao Kip was formally recognized as the official currency after the country gained independence in 1952. It replaced the colonial French Indochinese piaster, and was comprised of banknotes and coins with denominations of up to 100 kip. However, high inflation in the late 20th century and early 21st century has caused the Bank of Lao to issue banknotes of up to 100,000 kip. As of September 2016, one US Dollar exchanged for 8,088 Lao kips.

5. Sierra Leonean Leone

Sierra Leonean Leone bills.

Sierra Leone is a small West African country and has the Leone as its official currency. The Sierra Leonean Leone is abbreviated as SLL in the exchange markets and is comprised of 100 subunits known as cents. The Leone was introduced into the economy after the country gained independence and replaced the colonial British West African pound. The Sierra Leone Civil War which ran for over a decade caused hyperinflation in the country and subsequent economic collapse. The war left the currency at its lowest value where one US Dollar was exchanging for 5,465 Sierra Leone Leone as of January 2017 making it the least valued currency in Africa.

4. Indonesian Rupiah

Indonesian rupiah.

The Indonesian rupiah is the official currency used in Indonesia and is known in the stock exchange markets by the code “IDR.” The rupiah is made up of 100 subunits known as Sen. The Indonesian rupiah circulates in banknotes and coins with the lowest denomination being the 1000 rupiah. It gained international recognition in 1949 after the country achieved independence. Initially, one US Dollar exchanged for 3.8 rupiahs. However, the currency has experienced high inflation with measures trying to counter the inflation persistently failing. As of January 2017, one US Dollar was exchanging for 13,499 Indonesian rupiahs making it one of the least valued currencies in the world.

3. Vietnamese Dong

Vietnamese dong.

The Vietnamese Dong is the official currency used in Vietnam. It uses the code “VND” in the stock exchange markets. The Dong is made of 100 subunits known as xu or 10 subunits known as hao both of which are in circulation. The Vietnamese Dong was introduced after the merger of North Vietnam and South Vietnam in 1978 and was relatively stable with 2 VND exchanging for 1 USD. The government then revalued the Dong severally in the following years which caused a spike in the national inflation levels. The Vietnamese Dong is currently the second-least valued currency in the world after the Iranian rial with 1 USD exchanging for 22,769 VND as of December 2016.

2. Iranian Rial

The Iranian rial.

The Iranian rial is the official currency of Iran. However, the unofficial unit of currency used locally is the now-defunct toman where 10 rials make up one toman. The Iranian rial was introduced into circulation in 1798 and was considered valuable in comparison to neighboring currencies with the US Dollar exchanging for 75 rials in 1957. The current situation is a big contrast from the early years. The Iranian rial is now at its weakest with one US Dollar exchanging for over 40,000 Iranian rials. This decline in valuation is attributed to the constant international sanctions placed on the Tehran-based government especially between 1995 and 2012. The Iranian government devalued the currency in July 2013 and is seeking parliament’s approval to have the toman reinstated as the official currency.

1. Venezuelan Bolivar

Venezuelan Bolivars.

The Venezuelan Bolivar or Bolivar Fuerte is the national currency used in Venezuela. It is abbreviated as VEF in the money markets. The Venezuelan bolivar is comprised of 100 subunits known as "centimos." The Bolivar Fuerte was introduced to the economy in 2008 to replace the original Bolivar. The economic collapse of Venezuela in 2016 severely eroded the Bolivar Fuertes’ value with inflation levels reaching an unprecedented level of 720% as of February 2016.


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