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 copper-nickel center in a brass ring.