Until the mid-to-late 19th century, most financial transactions in Iceland were conducted in vaðmál (homespun wool). However, since 1922, Iceland has issued its own currency, the króna. Iceland never being the best at economic stability, the króna has lost significant value every decade since, and in 1981 we decided to cut a couple of zeros from it, introducing the current króna.
So, let’s meet the…
5,000 króna bill
The 5,000 króna bill was introduced in 1986, the same year as the Chernobyl disaster and the first episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. In a bluish-green tint, the obverse presents the likeness of Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir—famous seamstress and notorious godly groupie extraordinaire—while the reverse shows her teaching some girls how to embroider.
To our deep misfortune, there is no picture of Ragnheiður cajoling clergy on the bill, though in her life the Icelandic icon was way more famous for bedding bishops than sewing. Iceland is progressive, for sure, but not yet enough so as to have pornography on their currency. Perhaps one day.
So, what’s it worth?
At current interest rates, 5,000 króna corresponds to around $49.00, €43, and £38. Though there are no McDonalds in Iceland and therefore we can’t really use the Big Mac index, the Icelandic Big Mac-equivalent would be Metro’s “Heimsborgari,” which you can pick up for a cool 1,549 ISK.
For reference, a US Big Mac goes for around $5.00, and therefore 5,000 ISK would garner you around ten of these bad boys in America. In Iceland though, you could only get three and a third for the same price. While this sucks for those trying to get a deal, perhaps this could be one of the reasons Icelanders are so svelte and attractive. Yup, thanks absurdly low purchasing power. We’re hot. But hungry.