Exchange Currency

Botswana pula

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".

Summary info

Summary information about Botswana pula
ISO 4217 Code:
Currency sign:
5 thebe, 10 thebe, 25 thebe, 50 thebe, 1 pula, 2 pula, 5 pula
10 pula, 20 pula, 50 pula, 100 pula, 200 pula
Central bank:
Bank of Botswana


At the time of independence in 1966, Botswana was a member of the Rand Monetary Area (RMA) and the South African rand served as the national currency. However, with the decision, announced on September 6 1974, to withdraw from the RMA, the country was committed to introducing a new currency. This required substantial preparatory work, including choosing the name for the currency, and how much and in what denominations it should be produced. Regarding the name, the choice of Pula (meaning ‘rain’ or ‘blessings’) as the basic unit made up of 100 thebe (‘shield’) was overwhelmingly supported by a poll of public opinion. Thomas de la Rue and Company and the Royal Mint, both from Britain, were chosen to design and supply the notes and coins, respectively.

The new national currency was launched on August 23, 1976, subsequently known as ‘Pula Day’. An initial period of 100 days was allowed for the exchange of rand for pula, during which time the parity between the two currencies was guaranteed; various standby arrangements were also put in place to ensure enough supply of foreign exchange should the conversion take longer than expected. However, these were quickly canceled as it soon became clear that the new currency was being enthusiastically received by the public. A large proportion of the rand circulating in Botswana was exchanged within a few weeks of Pula Day.

At the time of launching the Pula, the denomination structure consisted of four notes (P1, P2, P5 and P10) and four coins (1t, 5t, 25t, and 50t). Over the years, due to rising prices, higher value notes have periodically been introduced and coins, which last much longer, are now used for smaller denominations that are used more frequently. The lowest value coins have also been demonetized. Nonetheless, such adjustments have not been frequent, indicating the successful use of appropriate monetary and exchange rate policies to help maintain the value of the currency.

The design of the currency has been consistently based on symbolic illustration of the socio-economic, political and cultural make-up of Botswana as a country, including the importance of democracy, tourism and mining. The design has been periodically reviewed both to improved security to counter forgeries and to make appropriate adjustments to the artwork. Regarding the latter, since the launch of the Pula in 1976, it had been the practice for all new notes to feature the portrait of the current president. However, since 1997 each denomination features a different portrait, with only the P10 note showing the current president.

On August 23 2009, exactly 33 years since the introduction of the Pula, a new family of Banknotes was introduced. This included a new P200 denomination note, bearing the image a woman teaching, reflecting both the importance of education and the contribution of women to national development.


In 1976, coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 thebe and 1 pula. The 1 thebe was struck in aluminum, 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.

Major developments since the introduction of the Pula:
  • August 23 1976 — Introduction of the Pula, replacing the South African rand. Pula, with notes (P1, P2, P5 and P10) and coins (1t, 5t, 10t, 25t and 50t) put in circulation on Pula Day. The Pula pegged to the U.S. dollar at P1 = USD1.15
  • February 16, 1978 — P20 note introduced
  • November 6, 1980 — Pula taken off U.S. dollar peg. Pula Basket, comprising SDR and South African rand, introduced.
  • October 9, 1981 — 2t coin introduced
  • May 29, 1990 — P50 note introduced
  • June 20, 1991 — P1 coin introduced
  • November 30, 1991 — Demonetisation of the scalloped P1 2t coins
  • August 23, 1993 — P100 note introduced
  • August 1, 1994 — P2 coin introduced
  • June 24, 1997 — New P10 note introduced, bearing the portrait of the then President of Botswana, His Excellency Festus G. Mogae.
  • October 27, 1997 — New P10 note introduced, bearing the portrait of D. K. Motsete, the composer of the national anthem.
  • June 5, 2000 — New P50 note introduced, bearing the portrait of first President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, and new P100 note bearing the portrait of the three chiefs, Bathoen I, Khama III and Sebele I, who obtained British protection over Bechuanaland.
  • November 1, 2000 — P5 coin introduced.
  • August 21, 2009 — New family of banknotes, including new P200 denomination, introduced.

BWP banknotes pictures gallery

10 Botswana pula
Banknote of 10 Botswana pula has dimensions 132×66 mm and main colors are camouflage green, pale spring bud and lemon chiffon.  
10 Botswana pula (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 10 Botswana pula is showing the portrait of His Excellency President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
10 Botswana pula (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 10 Botswana pula is showing the National Assembly building.

20 Botswana pula
Banknote of 20 Botswana pula has dimensions 138×69 mm and main colors are rose ebony, khaki and raspberry glace.  
20 Botswana pula (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 20 Botswana pula is showing the portrait of the composer of the national anthem, Dr K T Motsete.
20 Botswana pula (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 20 Botswana pula is showing the picture is of a mining installation.

50 Botswana pula
Banknote of 50 Botswana pula has dimensions 144×72 mm and main colors are desert sand, tan, rose taupe and gray.  
50 Botswana pula (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 50 Botswana pula is showing the portrait of Sir Seretse Khama, the founding president of Botswana.
50 Botswana pula (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 50 Botswana pula is showing the Okavango Delta swamps, featuring a man on a mokoro (small boat) and a fish eagle.

100 Botswana pula
Banknote of 100 Botswana pula has dimensions 151×75 mm and main colors are taupe gray, cinereous, wild blue yonder and ash grey.  
100 Botswana pula (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 100 Botswana pula is showing the portrait of the three chiefs who traveled to Britain in the 1890s to secure the country’s identity.
100 Botswana pula (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 100 Botswana pula is showing an open pit diamond mine and a diamond sorter examining a rough diamond.

200 Botswana pula
Banknote of 200 Botswana pula has dimensions 157×78 mm and main colors are dark gray, mountbatten pink, khaki and silver.  
200 Botswana pula (Obverse)
Obverse side of the 200 Botswana pula is showing the art work of a woman teaching pupils. The concept is intended primarily to underscore the contribution of women in the country’s development through education.
200 Botswana pula (Reverse)
Reverse side of the 200 Botswana pula is showing a herd of zebras at a waterhole.

Useful links

About Bank of Botswana:
Bank of Botswana
List of currencies:
Security and design features of BWP banknotes:
BWP banknotes
BWP currency on Wikipedia:
Botswana pula
Official Website of Bank of Botswana:
Commemorative coins:
Commemorative Coins