The riel (រៀល; sign: ៛; code: KHR) is the currency of Cambodia. There have been two distinct riel, the first issued between 1953 and May 1975. Between 1975 and 1980, the country had no monetary system. A second currency, also named "riel", has been issued since March 20, 1980. The symbol is encoded in Unicode at.
Popular belief suggests that the name of the currency comes from the Mekong river fish, the riel ("small fish" in Khmer). It is more likely that the name derives from the high silver content Mexican real used by Malay, Indian and Chinese merchants in mid-19th-century Cambodia.
In 1953, the Cambodia branch of the Institut d'Émission des États du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam issued notes dual denominated in piastre and riel with the riel being at par with the piastre. At the same time, the two other branches of the Institut had similar arrangements with the đồng in South Vietnam and the kip in Laos. The piastre itself was derived from Spanish pieces of eight (pesos).
The riel was at first subdivided into 100 centimes (abbreviated to cent. on the coins) but this changed in 1959 to 100 sen (សេន). For the first few years, the riel and piastre circulated alongside each other. The first riel banknotes were also denominated in piastres.
* First issue, 1955–56: 1 riel, 5 riels, 10 riels, 50 riels.
* Second issue, 1956: 1 riel, 20 riels, 50 riels, 100 riels, 500 riels.
* Third issue, 1963: 5 riels, 10 riels, 100 riels.
* Fourth issue, 1972: 100 riels*, 500 riels, 1,000 riels*, 5,000 riels*. (* Unissued.)
The 10, 20 and 50 centimes of 1953 and sen coins were minted in aluminium and were the same size as the corresponding att and xu (su) coins of Laos and South Vietnam (though without the holes in the Lao coins). A 1 riel coin about the size of a U.S. nickel was to be issued in 1970, as part of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization's coin program, but was not released, perhaps due to the overthrow of the government of Norodom Sihanouk by Lon Nol.
Although the Khmer Rouge printed banknotes, these notes were not issued as money was abolished after the Khmer Rouge took control of the country. * Fifth issue, 1975: 0.1 riel (1 kak), 0.5 riel (5 kak), 1 riel, 5 riels, 10 riels, 50 riels, 100 riels.