As one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world, with over 37,000 locations worldwide, McDonald’s is pretty easy to find just about anywhere on the globe. However, it is absent in several countries, and that absence hasn’t always been a choice left up to McDonald’s. Here are six countries that have banned the fast-food mega chain.
This island paradise has had a ban on foreign fast-food restaurants since the 1970s. Despite this ban, however, there was a McDonald’s built in Bermuda in 1985 – on the U.S. Naval Air Station located on the island. When the base closed in 1995, the McDonald’s left with it.
Despite this setback, McDonald’s made another attempt to plant the golden arches in Bermuda in 1999. This time, however, the fast food ban was upheld, and the McDonald’s was never built.
Iran was home to a McDonald’s at one point, but the country began to distance itself from Western culture following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Tense relations in the decades since make the prospect for a new location unlikely.
Should McDonald’s ever regain a foothold in Iran, however, they may find fierce competition. In their absence, an imitator chain known as Mash Donald’s has been selling burgers for years.
Bolivia is the only country in Latin America besides Cuba without a McDonald’s. While there is no outright ban on McDonald’s in Bolivia, the Bolivian people and government have not welcomed the burger franchise. In fact, there was a location in La Paz until 2002, but poor sales and pushback from locals, who expressed a desire to buy their burgers from locations not owned by an international business, forced the franchise to close.
After the location had closed, the former president of Bolivia stated that corporations like McDonald’s are “not interested in the health of human beings, only in earnings and corporate profits.”
One of the least surprising countries to appear on this list, North Korea’s aversion to foreign interests has kept the country culturally insulated since the end of the Korean War.
While North Korea may have zero McDonald’s franchises, South Korea has over 850. This led to a famous incident in 2011 when North Korean elites used the national airline to smuggle McDonald’s burgers across the border.
There were three McDonald’s locations in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik until 2009. Unfortunately, the currency of Iceland, the krona, collapsed when the economy faltered, and all three closed their doors in rapid succession.
Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world, and the government has been wary of the consequences of allowing the fast food giant to re-establish itself. An Icelandic fast food chain has popped up in McDonald’s absence, serving locally-sourced meat and produce.
Government concerns about the impact of a McDonald’s franchise on the health of the population caused the closure of a small McDonald’s in the capital city of Podgorica. The local media supported the departure of the country’s only McDonald’s location, favoring the opportunity for local restaurants to serve the community.
However, the public relations department of the government of Montenegro refuted that claim. Stating that “no company, not even McDonald’s, is ‘forbidden’ to do business in Montenegro.” Despite that lukewarm welcome, however, there are still no McDonald’s location in Montenegro.
These are not the only countries without a single McDonald’s, however. There are dozens of countries without McDonald’s, primarily because the corporation has deemed the local economy or political environment too unstable to support a successful franchise. In fact, many economists consider the arrival of a McDonald’s franchise in a developing world an indicator of economic stability.