During the ninth and tenth centuries, Cambodia imported Pyu and Mon coins from Burma and Thailand. Coins were not produced in Cambodia until the sixteenth century, and in the 1850s Ang Duong, king of Cambodia (1841-1859) issued the first machine-made coins, denominated in baht and att, following Thailand's monetary system.
Cambodia was an independent kingdom until it became a French protectorate in 1863 and was incorporated into French Indochina in 1885. On September 26, 1940, the Japanese occupied French Indochina, but left the Vichy French administration in place since nominally Vichy France was allied with Japan. On November 8, 1949 Cambodia became an autonomous state in the French Union, and on November 9, 1953 it became independent as a monarchy under Prince Sihanouk.
Cambodia issued its own coins before becoming part of French Indochina in 1863, using the Tical as in Thailand. The Tical was divisible into 8 Fuang and 64 Att. In 1884, the Piastre de Commerce was introduced, equal in value to the Mexican Trade Dollar (24.4935 grams of silver) or about 5.37 French Francs. On July 8, 1895, Piastre coins of 24.3 grams were introduced and on July 8, 1895, the import of Mexican Trade Dollars was prohibited. Piastre coins were also issued in French Cochinchina and Tonkin. On March 31, 1930, the exchange rate between the French Indochina Piastre and French Franc was fixed at 10 to 1.
The Banque de l'Indochine was established by a decree of January 21, 1875. A branch was established in Phnom Penh, which became the note-issuing bank for all of Indochina from February 22, 1891 to December 31, 1951. During the Second World War, French Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) and Thailand, though occupied by Japanese troops, did not have Japanese occupation currency; rather, they paid a kind of ransom by creating domestic currency and giving it to Japan to pay for local expenses. The Piastre was divisible into 100 Cents.
After the war, France initially revalued the Piastre to equal 17 French Francs, but the Piastre was devalued back to its old level of 10 French Francs on May 11, 1953. On December 31, 1951 the exclusivie privilege of banknote issue was transferred to the Institut d'Emission des Etats du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viet-Nam, which also had its headquarters in Phnom Penh. Although separate notes were issued for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the notes were legal tender in all three states.
Upon gaining its independence, Cambodia issued the Riel (KHO) on January 1, 1955. The Riel is divisible into 100 Sen, and was issued at par with the Piastre which was completely replaced by September 29, 1955. The Riel was used in Cambodia until 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, eliminated all money, and introduced a barter economy. The Khmer Rouge had contracted for banknotes showing the Khmer Rouge defending the country against Capitalists, but they were never issued.
After the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979 and the defeat of the Khmer Rouge, Vietnamese, Thai and other foreign currencies also circulated between January 1978 and March 31, 1980. On April 1, 1980, a new Riel (KHR), divisible into 10 Kak and 100 Su, was introduced. Banknotes were issued by the Banque Nationale du Cambodge from 1955 until 1975, by the Bank of Kampuchea in 1975, by the State Bank of Democratic Kampuchea from 1979 until 1990, and by the People's National Bank of Cambodia from 1990 until today.
State Bank of Democratic Kampuchea
The following notes, P-25 though P-32 were all issued on March 20th 1980. They were issued by the Vietnamese backed regime of Heng Samrin which overthrew Pol Pot in 1979.
Heng was born in Prey Veng province, Cambodia. He became a member of the Khmer Rouge communist movement led by Pol Pot, and became a political commisar and army division commander when the Khmer Rouge took over the government in 1975. In 1978, he defected from the Khmer Rouge, which was backed by China, and fled to Vietnam. Later that year, Heng returned to Cambodia, leading a rebellion which was backed by Vietnam and the Soviet Union.