Depending on your take on things, McDonald’s is either the epitome of Yankee imperialism/unsustainable capitalism or the best food ever (maybe some variants in between). I personally was previously part of the former, but moving to China mellowed me somewhat, and now I fall into the latter category.
In fact, I’d say that it was Chinese breakfasts that really turned me to the dark side.
Seeing as there are no McDonalds in most of the countries I have been travelling since December, and you know the whole COVID-19 thing, I think I am now at about seven months sans-Big Mac.
Being located in Cambodia, I was surprised to learn that it was one of the few countries not to have a McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC, all good, but a distinct lack of Ronald McDonald and his cohorts in the country.
This got me thinking if there isn’t a McDonalds in Cambodia, which other countries inflict such cruel and unusual torture on their citizens? It was time to investigate.
McDonald’s is present in 110 countries and territories of the world, but this includes non-sovereign places such as Guam. We are not going to get into the whole what counts as a country debate (today) because you can read our very concise take on that here.
Six Countries That Don’t Have McDonald’s
OKl so this one is hardly a Jarvis Cocker, but yes, there are no McDonalds in North Korea. A few years ago, there was talk of perhaps KFC entering the market (they were also the first to enter China), but it came to nothing. You can though eat a hamburger in North Korea though.
Islamic Republic of Iran
There were previously western franchises in Iran, but then they had the whole Islamic Revolution thing and all things western went the way of the dodo. Funnily enough, there are lots of fast-food restaurants in Iran, many repurposed from their former glories.
Nauru is the least visited country in the world and is a tiny rock in the middle of nowhere. Every restaurant bar two on the island is a Chinese restaurant and not the good kind. Despite not having any Big Mac’s they still manage to be theme obsess country on earth. Top marks Nauru!
The Pacific Islands
Continuing on from the Nauru example, every country in the Pacific is Mcdonald’s less, with the exceptions of Fiji and French Polynesia. And yes I have gone to town getting McDonalds here.
Are there any western countries without a Mcdonald’s? Ladies and gentlemen, we present San Marino. In fact, they formerly had a McDonalds, but competition from fabulous Italian restaurants drove them out of business. Kinda funny, really.
You might argue just how communist Laos is these days, but they have still managed to avoid opening a branch of McDonalds here. If you really need fast food you will have to make do with Pizza Hut.
Now I know what you are thinking, surely we have left off a number of obvious ones, but in fact, we probably haven’t.
Next up six countries you might be surprised that have a McDonalds.
OK, so this one flies through on a technicality, but there is a McDonalds on the military base in Guantanamo Bay. We realize this kinda doesn’t count as Cuba, but we are throwing it in there anyway. In Cuba proper, they have El Rapido, which serves rum which we are big fans of.
Despite Chavez inspired a socialist revolution. Mass unemployment and rampant inflation Venezuela have over 100 franchises in the country. I’m guessing they don’t have toilet paper, though. You heard it here first.
Mcdonalds only entered the Vietnamese market a few years ago, but seem to be a prime example of if you snooze you lose. Lotteria of Japan/Korea are the main fast food people, and McDonald’s only has 22 locations in the country. Overall though it is not a huge thing.
Seeing as beef is not widely consumed in India, the equivalent of a Big Mac here uses lamb in place of beef. Burger King is the same, and I have to say the Lamb Whopper I had there was really quite good!
OK, so this the same gag as the Cuba one as it is on the American military base. We have included this because there is a national rip-off called MaDonal, which is supposedly rather good. and a little bit a legend in its own right.
OK perhaps not that surprising, but when you consider Lebanon is pretty much a failed state then it does make it a little shocking. Also at $100 they’d have the most expensive Big Mac in the world if we sued the official exchange rate. Thankfully you pay in the black market rate. My McDonalds here was actually my first in 3 years!
The Soviet Union! Back in 1991 and before the August Coup Muscovites were lining up for hours to try a Big Mac, quite how much this helped with the fall of the Soviet Union, or if it was a CIA trojan horse is anyone’s guess.
So we have already talked about Moscow getting a McDonalds in 1991, but after all these years the franchise has finally been kicked out of the Russia – Ukraine War. They have now been replaced Iran style with a local knock-off.
They were though not the first communist state to get one, for that title goes to the Belgrade branch of the formerly communist Yugoslavia which opened its doors in 1987. Nowadays both China and Vietnam have the Big Mac, but again how communist they are is up for debate.
Is it true that no two countries with a McDonalds have gone to war?
No, it is not true at all and there are literally multiple examples of this, the latest of course being Russia and Ukraine, even if they have now left the Russian Federation.
And that is the lowdown on all things Global McDonalds.