The pula is the currency of Botswana. It has the ISO 4217 code BWP and is subdivided into 100 thebe. Pula literally means "rain" in Setswana, because rain is very scarce in Botswana — home to much of the Kalahari Desert — and therefore valuable and a blessing. The word also serves as the national motto of the country.
In 1976, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 thebe and 1 pula. The 1 thebe was struck in aluminium, with the 5 thebe in bronze and the others in cupro-nickel. These coins were round except for the scalloped 1 pula. Bronze, dodecagonal 2 thebe coins were introduced in 1981 and discontinued after 1985. In 1991, bronze-plated steel replaced bronze in the 5 thebe, nickel-plated steel replaced cupro-nickel in the 10, 25 and 50 thebe and the 1 pula changed to a smaller, nickel-brass, equilateral-curve seven-sided coin. A similarly shaped, nickel-brass 2 pula was introduced in 1994. In 2004, the composition was changed to brass-plated steel and the size was slightly reduced.
In 1998, following the withdrawal of the 1 and 2 thebe, smaller 5, 10, 25 and 50 thebe coins were introduced, with the 5 and 25 thebe coins being seven-sided and the 10 and 50 thebe coins remaining round. A bimetallic 5 pula depicting a mopane caterpillar and a branch of the mopane tree it feeds on was introduced in 2000 composed of a cupronickel center in a ring made of aluminium-nickel-bronze.
A new series of coins was introduced in 2013.
On August 23, 1976, the Bank of Botswana introduced notes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 10 pula; a 20-pula note followed on February 16, 1978. The 1 and 2 pula notes were replaced by coins in 1991 and 1994, whilst the first 50 and 100 pula notes were introduced on May 29, 1990 and August 23, 1993, respectively. The 5 pula note was replaced by a coin in 2000. The original 1, 2 and 5 pula banknotes were demonetized on 1 July 2011.
The previous series of notes was introduced on 23 August 2009 and contains for the first time, a 200-pula banknote.
|Banknotes of the Botswana pula (2009 issue)|
|10 pula||Green||President Seretse Khama Ian Khama||Parliament building, Gaborone||Rampant zebra and electrotype 10|
|20 pula||Red||Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete||Mining equipment||Rampant zebra and electrotype 20|
|50 pula||Brown||President Sir Seretse Khama||Okavango Delta swamps, boat, fish eagle||Rampant zebra and electrotype 50|
|100 pula||Blue||Three chiefs (Sebele I, Bathoen I, Khama III)||Diamond sorting, open-pit diamond mine||Rampant zebra and electrotype 100|
|200 pula||Purple||Female teacher and children||Zebras||Rampant zebra and electrotype 200|
|Current BWP exchange rates|
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Due to hyperinflation in Zimbabwe in 2006 to 2008, the government has allowed circulation of foreign currency since September 2008. Local currency became obsolete on April 12, 2009. Several currencies, including the South African rand and Botswana pula circulate in Zimbabwe, along with the Zimbabwean Bond Coins.
The Botswana Pula became widely known internationally through numerous references in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, making it possible for readers worldwide to get an idea of the Pula's purchasing power.
Pula (rain) was an easy choice for the currency, and the decimal coins were called thebe (shield).(Memoirs of a former president of Botswana)
The new names pula and thebe were chosen following an invitation to the public to submit their suggestions [...] The meaning of "thebe" is shield — the traditional means of defence.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Botswana pula.|
South African rand
Reason: creation of independent currency
Ratio: at par
|Currency of Botswana