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The Iranian Rial - The Weakest Currency in The World


What is the weakest currency in the world?


We looked at a whole range of currencies and compared their exchange rate with the US dollar (USD) to see which was the weakest. (At time of writing in October 2022).


The weakest currency by far is the Iranian rial (IRR).


1 US dollar buys you 42,350 Iranian rial.


The Iranian government has agreed to redenominate the rial, deleting 4 zeros and bringing in the new currency, but this has not yet taken place. Once it does, we can expect to see the Iranian rial leave its top spot as weakest currency in the world.


The strongest currencies in the world graph

What is the Iranian rial?


The Iranian rial is the official currency of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Reverse of the 100,000 rial bank note showing the main entrance to the University of Tehran
Reverse of the 100,000 rial bank note showing the main entrance to the University of Tehran

Is the Iranian rial subdivided into a smaller unit?


The Iranian rial is subdivided into 100 dinar. The dinar is not generally used however, because the value of a rial is so low.


Within Iran, the toman is widely used. 1 toman is equal to 10 rial.



What is the code for the Iranian rial?


The code for the Iranian rial is IRR.



What is the symbol for the Iranian rial?


The Iranian rial is unusual in that, unlike most other currencies, it does not have an official symbol.



Is the Iranian rial being remonetised?


The Iranian rial is due to be remonetised. This is because of its extremely low value. In 2020, the government of Iran voted to effectively delete 4 zeros from the currency, by changing the currency to the toman, where 1 toman is equivalent to 10,000 rial. This change was due to take place in 2022, at a cost of around 150 million US dollars, but it has not happened yet.



Which countries use the Iranian rial?


The Iranian rial is only the official currency of Iran, but it is also used informally in other countries. These include Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq.



Is the Iranian rial traded on the foreign exchange market?


Due to its extremely low value, the Iranian rial is not freely traded on the foreign exchange market, and as such is considered a blocked or inconvertible currency. Its exchange rate is 42,350 Iranian rial to 1 US dollar at the time of writing (October 2022).



Why is the value of the Iranian rial so low?


The value of the Iranian rial plummeted after the Islamic revolution of 1978-79. A huge amount of money left the country at this time, and inflation has continued since. Continued severe economic sanctions against Iran, due to its nuclear programme, have restricted its ability to trade globally, and stifled its economy.



Who issues the Iranian rial?


The Cental Bank of Iran issues the Iranian rial. The Central Bank of Iran is also known as the Bank Markazi.



Where does the name ‘rial’ come from?


The name of the Iranian rial comes from the Spanish ‘real’, which was the currency of Spain and its colonies from the mid-1300s until the introduction of the peseta in 1868. ‘Real’ means ‘royal’ in Spanish.


What is the history of the Iranian rial?

1798 First recorded use of the rial in what is now Iran.


1825 The rial was replaced with the qiran, at an exchange rate of 1 qiran to 10 rial.


1932 The currency of Iran was changed back to the rial, at an exchange rate of 1 rial to 1 qiran. The Iranian rial was pegged to the British pound at a rate of 59.75 rial to 1 pound.


1945 The Iranian rial was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 32.35 rial to 1 US dollar.


1953 Gold and silver were no longer used in the coins of the Iranian rial.


1975 The Iranian rial was no longer pegged to the US dollar.


1979 Following the Islamic revolution, the value of the Iranian rial dropped significantly, and it has not recovered, steadily dropping since then.


History of the Iranian Rial timeline


What is Iran’s main export?


Iran is an oil-producing country and is a member of OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). Nearly half of the government’s budget comes from oil exports.



What is the GDP of Iran?


The GDP of Iran in 2021 was 1.08 US dollars. It is expected to increase to 1.14 billion US dollars in 2022.


View of Tehran
View of Tehran © brainin/Pixabay

Is the Iranian rial stable?


Although the Iranian rial is no longer pegged to another currency, and therefore has a free-floating exchange rate, the Central Bank of Iran continues to implement currency controls in order to keep the currency stable.



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