For residents of the U.S. and most of Europe, it feels nearly impossible to escape Ronald McDonald’s beef-scented clutches. McDonald’s boasts more than 39,000 restaurants in approximately 119 countries, a frankly terrifying global presence. But a rather sensational article in The U.S. Sun did bring something to my attention: nearly 100 countries around the globe have no McDonald’s locations at all.
A few things: yes, I know The Sun is a quasi-questionable news source (they received a “mixed” rating on factual reporting from Media Bias Fact Check), so I checked into the article’s claims myself. Contrary to the article’s headline (“The countries which have BANNED McDonald’s restaurants”), most of the countries on the list haven’t banned McDonald’s; they simply don’t have the chain, either because of socioeconomic factors, regional financial concerns, or cultural dietary preferences. Take, for example, Jamaica, which had eight McDonald’s locations that all closed down in 2005. Iceland is another good example; per Mashed, high import costs following the 2008 financial crash kicked off the chain’s regional demise.
I was only able to find a few examples of countries that have truly “banned” McDonald’s. First, there’s North Korea, which doesn’t currently host any Western chains—although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did indicate interest in hosting a “Western hamburger franchise” as a show of goodwill to the United States, according to an intelligence report described by U.S. officials to NBC.
My personal favorite anti-McDonald’s locale is Vatican City, the only country in Europe to have never had a single McDonald’s location. There is, however, a McDonald’s just 100 meters outside of Vatican City’s border, the construction of which enraged Vatican officials. In a New York Times article, officials said the chain’s presence was “not at all respectful of the architectural and urban traditions of one of the most characteristic squares overlooking the colonnade of St. Peter.” I can’t blame them. Regardless, check out The Sun’s full list of McDonald’s-free countries if you want a break from the Big Mac’s leering presence.