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. Pula also means "blessing" as rain is considered a blessing. Thebe means "shield".
The pula was introduced in 1976, replacing the South African rand at par. Despite a 12% devaluation in May 2005, the pula remains one of the strongest currencies in Africa.
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, but 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 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 was introduced in 2000 composed of a cupronickel center in a brass ring.
In 1976, the Bank of Botswana introduced notes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 & 20 pula. The 1 & 2 pula notes were replaced by coins in 1991 & 1994, whilst 50 & 100 pula notes were introduced in 1992 & 1993, respectively. The 5 pula note was replaced by a coin in 2000. According to a press release, the old 1, 2 and 5 pula banknotes were demonetized on 1 July 2006, but can be exchanged at the central bank for 5 years.
A new series of notes was introduced on 24 August 2009.
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