There are several factors that impact the value of a currency, but buyers are often the most prominent influencers. For example, the US dollar is strong because so many countries buy this currency. If investors and buyers were to stop buying US dollars, its value would drop significantly. More attention is paid to popular currencies that are likely to remain (relatively) stable. This provides a basis for forecasts and projections – not to mention higher liquidity and easier access to brokers who are able to convert those currencies.
Here is a list of the world’s 10 weakest currencies as valued against the world’s most traded currency – the US dollar (USD).
Interested in the flip side? Check out the World’s Strongest Currencies (2019).
*Exchange rates were sourced from Google Finance at the time of publication on September 5th, 2019.
#1 Iranian Rial [1 USD = 42,105 IRR]
Currently, the world’s least valued currency is the Iranian rial.
Due to perceived threats against Israel and the USA from the Iranian government, several countries enforced numerous sanctions on Iran. These measures included restricting Iran’s access to the world market, which led to significant economic downturn. As a significant player in the world oil market, restrictions on exporting the commodity recently created a significant deficit in Iran’s national budget.
#2 Vietnamese Dong [1 USD = 23,208.50 VND]
The Vietnamese dong is the currency with the second lowest value in the world. Vietnam is still on the hard path from a centralized economy to a market one, and this has had a very obvious impact on its currency.
#3 Indonesian Rupiah [1 USD = 14,114.95 IDR]
In 2018, the official currency of Indonesia fell to its weakest level against the US dollar in more than 20 years. Indonesia is an economically stable country, however, its currency has a very low exchange rate. The government has taken measures to strengthen their currency by raising interest rates and buying sovereign bonds, but the rupiah has continued to depreciate.
#4 Sierra Leonean Leone [1 USD = 9,500 SLL]
Sierra Leone has a rich supply of natural resources that includes diamonds, iron ore, gold and chromite. Despite being rich in resources, or possibly because of it, Sierra Leone’s economy continues to struggle under the weight of conflict, unrest and recurring Ebola epidemics.
#5 Uzbekistani Som [1 USD = 9,400 UZS]
The Uzbekistani som was originally pinned to the US dollar. This policy led to a flourishing illegal black market, and by 2017, the som was left with nearly no value against the US dollar. That year, the Uzbeki government devalued its currency by almost half in an attempt to end decades of market isolation and tempt investors towards the commodity-rich country. This move seems to have somewhat stabilized the currency.
#6 Guinean Franc [1 USD = 9,230 GNF]
The Guinean franc is the official currency of the West African country of Guinea. This country is rich in natural resources, including bauxite, iron ore and diamond and gold deposits. However, Guinea has faced stalled economic growth because of political instability and Ebola outbreaks.
#7 Laotian Kip [1 USD = 8,795 LAK]
The Laotian kip is the official currency of Laos, which borders Vietnam and Thailand in Southeast Asia. The kip is an outlier on this list. Although it was originally issued with a very low rate back in 1952, it’s currently strengthening in value against the US dollar.
#8 Paraguayan Guarani [1 USD = 6,248.50 PYG]
Paraguay has suffered from disastrous economic downturn, climbing inflation, corruption, low education quality and high unemployment. Although the country exports cotton and soybeans, it hasn’t been enough to cover the cost of their imports. However, things are starting to look up – Paraguay has gone from being the second poorest South American country (by GDP) to the fourth poorest in the space of just 3 years.
#9 Cambodian Riel [1 USD = 4,091 KHR]
When the Cambodian riel was first introduced in 1995, it wasn’t very popular. The US dollar had been in use in Cambodia since United Nations peacekeeping forces arrived in the early 90s, and many Cambodians still prefer it. While it’s not unusual for transactions in Southeast Asia to be made in US dollars, its use in Cambodia is particularly high. In fact, the level of dollarization in the country is at a whopping 90 percent. This causes the less popular riel to have a correspondingly lower value.
#10 Ugandan Shilling [1 USD = 3,678.60 UGX]
The Ugandan shilling first appeared in 1966. It replaced the East African shilling which was also used in Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Despite its relatively low value against the US dollar over the past few years, the Ugandan shilling has remained quite stable.
Some currencies have been excluded from this list due to denomination. This is a change in the nominal value of banknotes. It’s not unusual for currencies to change their denominations or even for countries to change their currencies. Such changes are typically put in place to stabilize a currency and and counter hyperinflation. Recent examples include the Venezuelan bolívar and the Belarusian ruble.