French Indochina was a Southeast Asian colonial territory ruled by the French from the late 19th century until 1954. Comprising Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the region was divided into three regions, with Hanoi as the capital. The French introduced modern infrastructure and health and education systems, but their exploitation of the region's resources and discrimination against the locals led to divisions and rebellions. Japanese occupation during World War II further disrupted the region. After the war, the Viet Minh declared Vietnamese independence, leading to the First Indochina War between French and Viet Minh forces. The French attempted to counter the Viet Minh by establishing the State of Vietnam, but they were ultimately defeated at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, leading to their withdrawal from Vietnam. The French rule in Indochina had a lasting impact, including the division of Vietnam into North and South, which ultimately led to the Vietnam War.
French Indochina was a colony of economic exploitation, funded through taxes on locals and a French monopoly on the opium, salt, and rice alcohol trade. The administration established consumption quotas for villages, with the trade forming 44% of the budget in 1920, declining to 20% by 1930.
Between 1885 and 1952, the currency used in French Indochina was the piastre de commerce, which was divided into 100 cents and 2-6 sapeques. The term piastre is derived from the Spanish pesos and has been used to refer to various historical currencies since the 16th century.
The Banque de l'Indochine issued the first piastre notes in 1892, followed by 5, 20, and 100 piastres in the subsequent years. Other denominations of piastre notes were introduced over the years, such as 500 piastres in 1939 and 50 piastres in 1945. The issuance of paper money was taken over by the Institut d'Emission des Etats du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam in 1953, which introduced new notes denominated in piastre and three new currencies: the Cambodian riel, Lao kip, and South Vietnamese đong. Various denominations of piastre notes were introduced for each of the three countries, ranging from 1 to 200 piastres.