What is the Currency of Botswana?

By Victor Rotich on August 1 2017 in Economics

The Botswana pula.
The Botswana pula.

Currency Of Botswana

Pula is the official currency of Botswana. The literal meaning of Pula is rain, and the currency's name came about since there is scarce rainfall in Botswana. Therefore, the money is as valuable as the rain and is also a blessing just like rain. The sub-units of the currency is expressed as thebe which means "shield", and its ISO 4217 code is BWP.

History Of Pula

The original currency of Botswana was the South African rand, and the introduction of Pula in 1976 replaced it. In 2005, Pula devalued by 12%, but up to date, it is still among the strongest currencies in Africa.

Pula Coin Denominations

During the introduction of Pula in 1976, coin denominations were 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 thebe as well as 1 Pula. Aluminum was used in the one thebe coins while the 5 thebe coins were made of bronze. All the coins were round except the 1 Pula coin which had a scalloped shape. In 1981, the dodecagonal two thebe coins were introduced though, after 1985, their use was stopped. The replacement of the five thebe bronze coins by bronze-plated steel coins occurred in 1991, together with the replacement of the 10, 25 and 50 thebe cupro-nickel coins by the nickel-plated steel coins. During the same year, there was also the transition of the 1 Pula coin to a nickel-brass coin that was smaller than the first coin. The coin also had seven sides and was an equilateral curve.

Later, in 1994, there was the introduction of the 2 Pula coin that had a similar shape as the smaller 1 Pula coin and was made of nickel-brass. The size of the 2-pula coin in 2004 was smaller than the one before, and it was steel with a brass plate. In 1998, the 1 and 2 thebe coins were removed from circulation. Consequently, the thebe coins that came into circulation were in 5, 10, 25 and 50 denominations. The 5 and 25 thebe had seven sides while the 10 and 50 coins were still round. In the year 2000, there was the introduction of a 5 Pula bimetallic coin which showed a mopane caterpillar feeding on a branch of mopane tree. The composition of the coin was the aluminum-nickel-bronze ring above the cupronickel center. In 2013, there was the introduction of a new sequence of pula coins.


The introduction of Pula notes in the Bank of Botswana took place on August 23, 1976. The denominations of the notes were 1, 2, 5, and 10 pula notes. Later, on February 16, 1978, there was the introduction of the 20-pula note while in 1991 and 1994 coins replaced the 1 and 2 pula notes. The 50-pula notes came into circulation on May 29, 1990. Moreover, the 100-pula notes were issued on August 23, 1993. In 2000, a coin also replaced the 5 Pula note and the demonetization of the 1, 2, and 5 pula notes took place on July 1, 2011.

More in Economics