First South Vietnamese Dong (1953-1975) - First issued by the Institut d'Emission des Etats du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam during the last days of the French colonial administration, the South Vietnamese dong was issued by the Ngân-Hàng Quốc-Gia Việt-Nam (National Bank of Vietnam) during the republic’s brief existence.
Upon first issue, 1 dong was worth USD 0.2857 (or 35 dong = USD 1); however, the young republic saw the amount of cash in circulation grow from 6.78 billion dong in 1955 to 27.4 billion dong in 1964, resulting in the dollar exchange falling to 80 dong by 1966.
The ongoing war further destabilized the currency with the black market price of the dollar rising as high as 400 dong in 1970 while the official exchange rate was adjusted at 275 dong. As the war intensified and economic conditions became dire, Saigon made a last ditch attempt to spur trade by further devaluing the dollar exchange rate to 550. While exports did increase, the country’s purchasing power collapsed and the dollar exchange rate fell to 700 prior to the republic’s capitulation to communist forces.
The victorious communist forces abolished the first dong and issued the second dong (called “liberation” dong) between 1975 and 1978 before replacing it with the new Vietnamese dong, which was issued throughout the newly unified country.
The First South Vietnamese dong was symbolized by Đ. Its subunit was the xu (1 dong = 100 xu)