Oil-rich Azerbaijan has let its currency float freely, leading to its sharp depreciation as global oil prices hit new lows.

Azerbaijan's Central Bank said Monday's move to let the manat fluctuate was made to "preserve hard currency reserves ... and ensure the national economy's competitiveness on the international arena."

Immediately after the move, the manat fell by 48 percent, ending at 1.55 a dollar.

The ex-Soviet nation has spent more than half of its hard currency reserves so far this year as it tried to shore up the embattled currency.