Iranian rial

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Iranian rial
ریال ایران (Persian)
100000 IRR complete.jpg
100,000 rial banknote
ISO 4217 codeIRR
Central bankCentral Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Official user(s)Iran Iran
Unofficial user(s) Iraq[1][2]
 Saudi Arabia[3]
 Freq. used250, 500, 1000 rials
 Rarely used50, 100, 2000, 5000 rials
Banknotes100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000 rials
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Iranian rial
ریال ایران (Persian)
100000 IRR complete.jpg
100,000 rial banknote
ISO 4217 codeIRR
Central bankCentral Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Official user(s)Iran Iran
Unofficial user(s) Iraq[1][2]
 Saudi Arabia[3]
 Freq. used250, 500, 1000 rials
 Rarely used50, 100, 2000, 5000 rials
Banknotes100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000 rials

The Iranian rial (in Persian: ریال ایران ; ISO 4217 code IRR) is the currency of Iran and, as of 2014, remains the world's least valued currency unit.[5]

Although the "toman" is no longer an official unit of Iranian currency, Iranians commonly express amounts of money and prices of goods in "tomans." For this purpose, one "toman" equals 10 rials. Despite this usage, amounts of money and prices of goods are virtually always written in rials. For example, the sign next to a loaf of bread in a store would state the price in rials, e.g., "10,000 Rials," even though the clerk, if asked, would say that the bread costs "1,000 tomans.". There is no official symbol for the currency but the Iranian standard ISIRI 820 defined a symbol for use on typewriters (mentioning that it is an invention of the standards committee itself) and the two Iranian standards ISIRI 2900 and ISIRI 3342 define a character code to be used for it. The Unicode Standard has a compatibility character defined U+FDFC rial sign (HTML ﷼).[6] The Iranian rial was devalued in July 2013.[7]


The rial was first introduced in 1798 as a coin worth 1250 dinar or one eighth of a toman. In 1825, the rial ceased to be issued, with the qiran of 1000 dinars (one tenth of a toman) being issued as part of a decimal system. The rial replaced the qiran at par in 1932, although it was divided into one hundred (new) dinars.[citation needed]

Prior to decimalisation in 1932, these coins and currencies were used, and some of these terms still have wide usage in Iranian languages and proverbs:[8]

Old currencyIn dinarFirst issueYear
shahi50 dinarsSamanid dynastyunknown
mahmoudi (sannar)100 dinarsSultan Mahmoudunknown
abbasi200 dinarsShah Abbas Iunknown
naderi (da-shahi)500 dinarsNader Shahunknown
qiran1000 dinarsFath Ali Shah1825
rial1250 dinarsFath Ali Shah1798
dozari2000 dinarsQajar dynastyunknown
panjzari5000 dinarsQajar dynastyunknown
toman10,000 dinarsIlkhanateunknown


The Iranian Rial remained relatively stable up until late 2011 when it lost two-third of its value within two years.[9]
Between 2002 and 2006, the rate of inflation has been fluctuating around 14%.[10]
Iran's trade balance (2000-2007)
Iran's balance of payment (2003-2007). Its capital account (both long and short term) has been decreasing during that same period.[11]

In 1932, the exchange rate with the British pound was 1 pound = 59.75 rial. This changed to 80.25 in 1936, 64.350 in 1939, 68.8 in 1940, 141 in 1941 and 129 in 1942. In 1945, Iran switched to the U.S. dollar as the peg for its currency, with 1 dollar = 32.25 rial. The rate was changed to 1 dollar = 75.75 rial in 1957. Iran did not follow the dollar's devaluation in 1973, leading to a new peg of 1 dollar = 68.725 rial. The peg to the U.S. dollar was dropped in 1975.

In 1979, 1 rial equaled $0.0141. The value of Iran's currency declined precipitously after the Islamic revolution because of capital flight from the country.[12][13] Studies estimate that the flight of capital from Iran shortly before and after the revolution is in the range of $30 to $40 billion.[14] Whereas on 15 March 1978, 71.46 rials equaled one U.S. dollar, in July 1999, 9430 rials amounted to one dollar.

Injecting sudden foreign exchange revenues in the economic system forms the phenomenon of "Dutch disease" in a country. There are two main consequences for a country with Dutch disease: loss of price competitiveness in its production goods, and hence the exports of those goods; and an increase in imports. Both cases are clearly visible in Iran.[15]

Although described as an (interbank) "market rate", the value of the Iranian rial is tightly controlled by the central bank. The state ownership of oil export earnings and its large reserves, supervision of letters of credit, together with current - and capital outflow account - outflows allows management of demand. The central bank has allowed the rial to weaken in nominal terms (4.6% on average in 2009) in order to support the competitiveness of non-oil exports.

There is an active black market in foreign exchange, but the development of the TSE rate and the ready availability of foreign exchange over 2000 narrowed the differential to as little as IR100 in mid-2000.[16] However the spread increased again in September 2010 because channels for transferring foreign currency to and from Iran are blocked because of international sanctions.[17][18]

Monetary policy is facilitated by a network of 50 Iranian-run forex dealers in Iran, the Middle-East and Europe. According to the WSJ and dealers, the Iranian government is selling $250 million daily to keep the Iranian rial exchange rate against the US dollar between 9,700 and 9,900 (2009).[19] At times (before the devaluation of the rial in 2013) the authorities have chosen to weaken the national currency intentionally by withholding the supply of hard currency to earn more rial-denominated income, usually at times when the government faces a budget deficit.[20]

The widening of the gap between official and unofficial exchange rates in 2011 stands at over 20% (as of November 2011). This shows the correlation between the value of foreign currencies and the domestic inflationary environment.[21]

The unofficial rial vs. US dollar rate underwent severe fluctuations in January 2012 (losing 50% of its value in a few days, following new international sanctions against the CBI), eventually settling at 17,000 rials at the end of the period. Besides all the bad effects on the economy in general, this had the effect of boosting the competitiveness of Iran's domestic industries abroad. Following President Ahmadinejad's decision to liberalize the mechanism by which bank interest rates are set (granting banks the authority to raise interest rates to 21%),[20] CBI announced that it would be fixing the official rate of the rial against the dollar at 12,260 rials from 28 January 2012 and seek to meet all demand for foreign currency through banks.[20][22][23][24][25]

On September 25, 2012, the Iranian rial fell to a new low, trading at 26,500 to the US dollar. The drop followed the government's launch of a foreign exchange center a day before, that would provide importers of some basic goods with foreign exchanges, at a rate about 2% cheaper than the open market rate on a given day. The announced rate at the center on September 24, 2012 was 23,620 rials to USD.[26] By early October 2012, Rial had further fell in value to about 38,500 Rials per USD in the free market. The Iranian rial was officially devalued in July 2013.[27]

Exchange rates Rials per US dollar[28]
YearMarket rate
Pre-unification, rials per US dollar:
Market: 8,200 (2002); 8,050 (2001); 8,350 (2000)[29]
Preferred: 6,906 (2002); 1,753 (2001); 1,764 (2000)[30]

Exchange rate system[edit]

Until 2002, Iran’s exchange rate system was based on a multi-layered system, where state and para-state enterprises benefited from the "preferred or official rate" (1750 rial for $1) while the private sector had to pay the "market rate" (8000 rial for $1), hence creating an unequal competition environment. The "official rate" of the Iranian rial—1,750 per U.S. dollar—applied to oil and gas export receipts, imports of essential goods and services, and repayment of external debt. The "export rate", fixed at 3,000 rials per dollar since May 1995, applied to all other trade transactions, but mainly to capital goods imports of public enterprises.[16]

In 1998, in order to ease pressure on exporters, the central bank introduced a currency certificate system allowing exporters to trade certificates for hard currency on the Tehran Stock Exchange, thus creating a floating value for the rial known as the "TSE rate" or "market rate". This method finally replaced the fixed "export rate" (IR3,000:US$1) in March 2000, and has since held steady at some IR8,500:US$1.

In March 2002, the multi-tiered system was replaced by a unified, market-driven exchange rate. In 2002 the "official rate" a/k/a "preferred rate" (IR1,752:US$1) was abolished, and the TSE rate became the basis for the new unified foreign-exchange regime.[31] Iran’s Central Bank channels more than 90 per cent of hard currency into the local market (2012).[20]

FOREX bourse[edit]

In a move interpreted as aiming at unifying currency exchange rates, on September 24, 2012, the government launched a foreign exchange centre, that would provide importers of some basic goods with foreign exchanges, at a rate about 2% cheaper than the open market rate on a given day.[26][32]

In addition to Banks, Exchange shops are also available for limited transactions. Exchange shops must operate under the licenses issued by Central Bank of Iran. Foreign currencies can be bought or sold at these exchange shops.

Exchange restriction[edit]

Exchange restriction arises from limitations on the transferability of rial profits from certain investments under the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act and from limitations on other investment-related current international payments under this act.[33]

Multiple currency practices[edit]

As at 2010, the cases of multiple currency practices arise from the following:[33]

  1. Budget subsidies for foreign exchange purchases in connection with payments of certain letters of credit opened prior to March 21, 2002 under the previous multiple exchange rate system (see above);
  2. Obligations of entities that had received allocations of foreign exchange at subsidized "allocated rates" under the previous multiple exchange rate system to surrender unused allocations to the Central Bank of Iran at the allocation rate.

Up until 2012, the dollar had different exchange rates, depending where you are buying your currency[34]

In 2012, Bank Markazi has classified a long list of goods into categories with priorities 1 through 10, leaving it to the parallel market to take of all other needs. Priorities 1 and 2 are food and medicine, receiving foreign exchange at the official rate of 12,260 rials per dollar, followed by other categories with lower priorities, which are mostly intermediate goods used in industrial production.[35]


Because of the current low value of rial, and that people rarely use the term, redenomination or change of currency was first proposed in the late 1980s. The issue has re-emerged and been under discussion, as a result of issuance of larger banknotes in 2003. Opponents of redenomination are wary of more inflation resulting from psychological effects, and increase in velocity of money leading to more instabilities in the economy of Iran.[36][37]

On 12 April 2007, the Economics Commission of the Parliament announced initiation of a statute in draft to change the currency, claiming redenominations has helped reduce inflation elsewhere, such as in Turkey.[38][39] In 2008, an official at the Central Bank of Iran said the bank plans to slash four zeros off the rial and rename it the toman.[40] The bank printed two new travelers cheques, which function quite similar to a banknote, with values of 500,000 and 1,000,000 rials. However, they have the figures "50" and "100" written on their top right hand corners, respectively, which is seen as the first step toward a new currency.[40]

In 2010, President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran will finally remove three zeros (from four originally proposed) from its national currency as part of the economic reform plan.[41]

In April 2011, it was reported that state bank of Iran is working on a six months redenomination project to slash four zeros from the national currency and replace old bank notes with new ones, similar to redenomination of Turkish lira and introduction of Turkish new lira in 2005.[42][43][44][45]

A website to poll the public on the redenomination plan was launched on 21 July 2011; the public was allowed to vote on how many zeroes to cut and what the new currency's name should be. Preliminary results indicate that four zeroes will be cut (in line with the government's recommendation) and that the name will be changed to Iranian parsi.[46]

CIA market manipulation[edit]

It has been reported that the CIA has tried to manipulate the Iranian rial over the past few years in order to destabilize the country, though unsuccessfully.[47][48] Iran has reported arresting 20 "Forex manipulators" in 2012.[49]


First rial[edit]

A golden daric coin during the Persian Empire

Silver coins were issued in denominations of ?,[clarification needed] ¼, ½ and 1 rial.

Second rial[edit]

The first coins of the second rial currency were in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 dinar, ½, 1, 2 and 5 rial, with the ½ to 5 rial coins minted in silver. Gold coins denominated in pahlavi were also issued, initially valued at 100 rial. In 1944, the silver coinage was reduced in size, with the smallest silver coins being 1 rial pieces. This year also saw the cessation of minting of all denominations below 25 dinar. In 1945, silver 10 rial coins were introduced. In 1953, silver coins ceased to be minted, with the smallest denomination now 50 dinar. 20 rial coins were introduced in 1972.

After the Islamic Revolution, the coinage designs were changed to remove the Shah's effigy but the sizes and compositions were not immediately changed. 50 dinar coins were only minted in 1979 and 50 rial coins were introduced in 1980. In 1992, a new coinage was introduced with smaller 1, 5, 10 and 50 rial coins and new 100 rial pieces. 250 rial coins were introduced the following year. In 2004, the sizes of the 50, 100 and 250 rial coins were reduced and 500 rial coins were introduced. New, smaller types of 250 and 500 rials were introduced in 2009, along with the new denomination of 1000 rials.

Current series[edit]

Iranian rial coins currently in circulation
ImageValueTechnical parametersDescriptionDate of
ObverseReverseDiameterThicknessMassCompositionEdgeObverseReversefirst minting
[50][51]50 Rialsymbol.svg20.2 mm1.33 mm3.5 gcopper
PlainValue, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran"Fatima Masumeh Shrine2004
[52][53]100 Rialsymbol.svg22.95 mm1.36 mm4.6 gcopper
PlainValue, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran"Imam Reza Shrine2004
[54][55]250 Rialsymbol.svg18.8 mm ???2.8 gcopper
PlainValue, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran"Feyziyeh madrasah2009
[56][57]500 Rialsymbol.svg20.8 mm ???3.9 gcopper
ReededValue, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran"Saadi's Mausoleum in Shiraz2009
[58][59]1000 Rialsymbol.svg23.7 mm ???5.8 gcopper
ReededValue, motif, year of minting, "Islamic Republic of Iran"Khaju Bridge2009
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.


1000 Rials bank note of the Shah era

In 1932, notes were issued by the "Bank Melli Iran" in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 rial. 1000 rial notes were introduced in 1935, followed by 200 rial notes in 1951 and 5000 and 10,000 rial in 1952. 5 rial notes were last issued in the 1940s, with 10 rial notes disappearing in the 1960s. In 1961, the Central Bank of Iran took over the issuance of paper money.

In 1979, after the Islamic revolution, Iranian banknotes featuring the Shah's face were counter-stamped with intricate designs to cover the Shah's face. The first regular issues of the Islamic Republic were in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 rial. 2000 rial notes were introduced in 1986.

It was reported by US media that Iranian Rial banknotes are printed in Europe.[60]


Current series
Main colourDescription
1-TOMAN-NASER.Jpg1 T130 X 67SilverNasser al-Din Shah QajarValue, "Imperial State of Iran"
5t-type1-obv-naser.jpg5t-type1-rev-naser.jpg5 T136 X 69TanNasser al-Din Shah QajarValue, "Imperial State of Iran"
IranP7s-50tomans-ND-donatedjs f.jpg50t-type1-rev-naser.jpg50 T142 X 71GrayNasser al-Din Shah QajarValue, Lion and Sun


Current series
Main colourDescription
5r-type1-obv-reza.jpg5r-type1-rev-reza.jpg5 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67GreenReza Shah PahlaviValue, Lion and Sun with crown
10r-obv-1311-reza.jpg10r-rev-1311-reza.jpg10 Rialsymbol.svg136 X 69GrayReza Shah PahlaviValue, Lion and Sun with crown
20rials-reza.jpg20 Rialsymbol.svg142 X 71PurpleReza Shah PahlaviSa'dabad Palace
500RialsNoteIran 22047.jpg500 Rialsymbol.svg142 X 71NavyPasargadae
1000rial rezapahlavi.JPG1,000 Rialsymbol.svg148 X 73SilverReza Shah Pahlavi


Current series
Main colourDescription
10-RIAL-OBV-KE.jpg10-RIAL-REV-KE.jpg10 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67SilverMohammad-Reza PahlaviImperial crown of Darius the Great
10-RIAL-OBV-TAKHT-KE.jpg10-RIAL-REV-TAKHT-KE.jpg10 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67SilverMohammad-Reza PahlaviMausoleum of Avicenna
10-RIAL-OBV-TAMAMROKH-KE.jpg10-RIAL-REV-TAMAMROKH-KE.jpg10 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67SilverMohammad-Reza PahlaviRoudbar Dam
Banknote of second Pahlavi - 20 rials (front).jpg20 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67BrownMohammad-Reza Pahlavi
50 rials of second Pahlavi for 2500 years of Persian empire (rear).jpg50 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67GreenMohammad-Reza PahlaviMohammad-Reza Pahlavi in a public meeting
Banknote of shah - 50 rials (front).jpgBanknote of shah - 50 rials (rear).jpg50 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67GreenMohammad-Reza PahlaviPasargadae
50 rial 1944.jpg50 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67GreenPasargadae
100 rials of second Pahlavi for 2500 years of Persian empire (front).jpg100 rials of second Pahlavi for 2500 years of Persian empire (rear).jpg100 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67PurpleMohammad-Reza PahlaviSocial Services
Banknote of second Pahlavi - 100 rials (front).jpgBanknote of second Pahlavi - 100 rials (rear).jpg100 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67PurpleMohammad-Reza PahlaviPahlavi Museum
100 rials of second Pahlavi for 2500 years of Persian empire (front).jpg100 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67PurpleMohammad-Reza Pahlavi
IranP108-100Rials.jpgIranP108-100Rials rev.jpg100 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67PurpleReza Pahlavi and Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi50th Anniversary of the establishment of Pahlavi Dynasty
Banknote of second Pahlavi - 200 rials (front).jpgBanknote of second Pahlavi - 200 rials (rear).jpg200 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67Grey-GreenMohammad-Reza PahlaviAzadi Tower، Tehran
1000 Rials Shah.jpgBanknote of second Pahlavi - 1000 rials (rear).jpg1000 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67BrownMohammad-Reza PahlaviTomb of Hafez

Imam Reza shrine Series (1980/81)[edit]

Current series
Main colourDescription
100 IRR 1981 Front.jpg100 IRR 1981 Back.jpg100 Rialsymbol.svg136 X 69PurpleImam Reza shrine, MashhadMadressa on Charbagh, Isfahan
200RialFront.jpg200RialBack.jpg200 Rialsymbol.svg136 X 69Blue-GreenImam Reza shrine, MashhadTomb of Avicenna, Hamadan
500 IRR 1981 Front.jpg500 IRR 1981 Back.jpg500 Rialsymbol.svg142 X 71BrownImam Reza shrine, MashhadWinged horses
1000 IRR 1981 Front.jpg1000 IRR 1981 Back.jpg1,000 Rialsymbol.svg148 X 73PinkImam Reza shrine, MashhadTomb of Hafez, Shiraz
5000 IRR 1981 Front.jpg5000 IRR 1981 Back.jpg5,000 Rialsymbol.svg154 x 75PurpleImam Reza shrine, MashhadOil refinery
10000 IRR 1981 Front.jpg10000 IRR 1981 Back.jpg10,000 Rialsymbol.svg160 x 77GreenImam Reza shrine, MashhadNational Council, Tehran

Revolutionary Series (1981/85)[edit]

Current series
Main colourDescription
[61][61]100 Rialsymbol.svg130 X 67PurpleHassan ModarresOld building of Islamic Consultative Assembly
200 IRR 1982 Front.jpg200 IRR 1982 Back.jpg200 Rialsymbol.svg142 X 71GreyMosqueFarmers
500 IRR 1981 Type 2 Front.jpg500 IRR 1981 Type 2 Back.jpg500 Rialsymbol.svg142 X 71Gray-GreenFriday prayersUniversity of Tehran main entrance
1000 IRR 1982 Front.jpg1000 IRR 1982 Back.jpg1,000 Rialsymbol.svg148 X 73BrownFeyzieh MadressaDome of the Rock
[62][63]2,000 Rialsymbol.svg148 X 73PurpleRevolutionariesKaaba
5000 IRR 1981 Typ 2 Front.jpg5000 IRR 1981 Typ 2 Back.jpg5,000 Rialsymbol.svg154 x 75RedRevolutionariesHazrat Masoumeh shrine
10000 IRR 1981 Typ 2 Front.jpg10000 IRR 1981 Typ 2 Back.jpg10,000 Rialsymbol.svg160 x 77BlueRevolutionariesImam Reza shrine, Mashhad

Current (Imam Khomeini) Series (1992)[edit]

Current series
Main colourDescription
[64][65]1,000 Rialsymbol.svg148 X 73BrownRuhollah KhomeiniOmar Mosque (Dome of the Rock)
[66][67]2,000 Rialsymbol.svg151 X 74Onion-skin purpleRuhollah KhomeiniKaaba
[68][69]5,000 Rialsymbol.svg154 x 75Brown-OliveRuhollah KhomeiniFlowers and birds
[70][70]5,000 Rialsymbol.svg154 x 75Brown-OliveRuhollah KhomeiniOmid satellite, Safir 2 rocket, globe with the marked territory of Iran
[71][71]5,000 Rialsymbol.svg154 x 75Brown-OliveRuhollah KhomeiniPottery from Zabol (Eastern Iran)
[72]10,000 Rialsymbol.svg160 x 77GreenRuhollah KhomeiniMount Damavand
[73][74]20,000 Rialsymbol.svg163 x 78BlueRuhollah KhomeiniNaqsh-e Jahan Square
[75][75]20,000 Rialsymbol.svg163 x 78BlueRuhollah KhomeiniAl-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
[75][75]20,000 Rialsymbol.svg163 x 78BlueRuhollah KhomeiniGolestan Palace, Qajar complex, Windcatchers, Abarkooh
50,000 Rialsymbol.svg166 X 79OchreRuhollah KhomeiniMap of Iran with Atom symbol, quote in Persian from the prophet Mohammed ("If the science exists in this constellation, men from Persia will reach it"), and "Persian Gulf" in English
[76][77]100,000 Rialsymbol.svg166 X 79Light olive greenishRuhollah KhomeiniSaadi's Mausoleum in Shiraz

Issuance of larger notes[edit]

Printing banknotes larger than 10,000 rials was first proposed in 1989, and in 1992 the central bank asked for government permission to print 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rial notes. This was not realized at that time, due to fears of inflation and counterfeiting.[36] The 10,000 rials note remained the highest valued note for more than 50 years, until 2007 when announced that Iran would issue a 50,000 rial banknote with the subject being the Iranian nuclear energy program. The note was issued on 12 March.[78][79] The note features a quote by the prophet Mohammed, translated as: "Even if knowledge is at the Pleiades, the people from the land of Persia would attain it".[80] Banknotes currently in circulation are 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rials. After the death of Ruhollah Khomeini, his portraits were used on the obverse of 1000 rial banknotes and greater.

Cash cheques[edit]

Currently the highest valued legal tender banknote issued by the central bank is 100,000 rials (about U.S. $2.66 on October 5, 2012).[81][82] However 500,000 rial and 1,000,000 rial Iran Cheques circulate freely and are treated as cash.

The central bank used to allow major state banks to print their own banknotes known as "cash cheques". They were a form of bearer teller's-cheque with fixed amounts, printed in the form of official banknotes. Once they were acquired from banks, they could function like cash for a year. Two forms of these banknotes were available. One known as "Iran cheque" could be cashed in any financial institution, while the other could be cashed at the issuing bank. They were printed in 200,000, 500,000, 1,000,000, 2,000,000 and 5,000,000 rial values.[83][84][85]

In 2008, CBI revoked this privilege from banks, and currently issues its own Iran Cheque in 500,000 and 1,000,000 denominations.[86]

Current IRR exchange rates

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Iranian Rial
Preceded by:
Iranian qiran
Reason: removed from Iranian currency by National Bank
Ratio: 1000 dinar = 1 qiran
Currency of Iran
1932 – present
Succeeded by:
Reason: financial reform