Vietnamese dong

Name of currency: Vietnamese dong

Country / countries used: Socialist Republic of Vietnam


Brief history:

The Northern Vietnamese Government in 1946, called ‘Viet Minh’ at the time, brought in the dong as a replacement for the predeceasing ‘French Indochinese’ piaster at a matching rate. This soon changed as the dong devalued in 1951 at a rate of 100:1 and then again reducing the money exchange value in 1958 to 1000:1.

Meanwhile although slightly behind, in the South they used the piasters until 1953 when the dong was finally introduced for the ‘State of Vietnam’ which was renamed as ‘Southern Vietnam’ in 1954 and remained until the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the currency was changed to the ‘liberation dong’ at a value of 1:500 in terms of money exchange with the old southern dong.

Tension grew as the extreme communist North clashed with Southern Diem’s government with epic casualties on both sides, eventually resulting in the involvement of the United States in the unsuccessful attempt to support the Southern Vietnamese struggle against communism. All American troops withdrew in 1973 after severe losses on both sides and with the failure to stabilise Southern Vietnam, The North ‘captured’ Phuoc Long and commenced a full scale attacking 1974 ultimately climaxing to the ‘Fall of Saigon’  in 1975. And thus began the merge between the two countries and a war torn Vietnam started to put itself back together, a total death toll is unknown but somewhere in the region of 1 – 4 million.

The dong as we know it today was not put into place until May 1978 after north and south were reunited, it was issued by the state bank of Vietnam.  It was equal to one Northern dong and 0.8 Southern ‘liberation’ dong at the time but was later re-valued in 1985 as a ‘new dong’ to equal 10 ‘old dong’ which lead to a sequence of chronic inflation throughout most of the early 1990’s and although the dong technically does have subdivisions of hào 1/10 and xu 1/100, these have been unused for several years due to this high level of inflation.

The word ‘dong’ comes from the Vietnamese term ‘đồng tiền’ which literally translates as ‘money’, it has the same origins as the Chinese word ‘tóng qián’ (铜钱) which refers to the Chinese bronze coins that were used throughout china and Vietnam during the dynastic periods. In a similar way the word for the subunit hào originates from the same term as the Chinese hào (毫) which translates to mean a tenth.