McDonald's Corp. is the world's largest restaurant chain, with 34,480 restaurants in 119 countries.
The burger chain has famously gone where few fast-food chains have gone before as a symbol—for better or worse – of capitalism. Now a whole new global generation of burger-chomping people are growing up with the chain’s food in their diet. Even Vietnam is soon to have its very own provider of the Big Mac.
But there are still many countries that do not host even a single McDonald's restaurant. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it shows it doesn’t always boil down to dollars and cents.
Here’s a look at some:
1. North Korea
Despite the penchant of the now-deceased Dear Leader and his son for Western things, McDonald’s effectively can’t do business in North Korea –that is unless they want to be sanction busters. But Kim Jong-il looks as though he may have gotten one last taste of a McDonald’s burger before he passed away, when officials of the regime made headlines for using the state airline to deliver burgers to their homes. But I bet the starving citizens would have loved to get a bite of a Big Mac.
McDonald's restaurants operated in Bolivia for 14 years, but they shut down following a fairly unorganized political movement to prevent the company from turning a profit. The Bolivian President Evo Morales stepped up pressure on the fast food chain, citing the company’s desire for global dominance. “They are not interested in the health of human beings, only in their earnings and corporate profits,” said Morales.
McDonalds was reportedly considering opening up branches in Ghana by early 2011. But plans were put on hold when it appeared that the citizens of the African nation wouldn’t have enough income to become regular customers.
Until May, McDonald's operated seven fast food restaurants in Macedonia for about 16 years. But a dispute between McDonald’s European head office and Macedonian company that runs the franchises has apparently led to the termination of their agreement. No telling is McDonald’s has plans to continue operating in Macedonia.
In 1999, construction of the first McDonald’s stopped due to protest and the subsequent passage of a government law that bans franchised restaurants in the country. During the fight to pass the law, one person spearheading the drive against McDonald's wrote in the local press: "It is not Bermudian. McDonald's cheapens wherever it goes."
In 2010, there was talk about opening up the first-ever chain in the country that is led by President Robert Mugabe – one of Africa’s longest-serving dictators. McDonald’s says it’s still looking for the right company to run its franchise –someone of “high integrity, “ and business experience. That’s good, because the country is enjoying a rebound in its economy from its illegal trade in blood diamonds—among other things.
McDonald’s closed in Iceland due to the collapse of the Icelandic krona in 2009. Citing prohibitive costs of importing foreign food products as required by McDonald's, Jon Gardar Ogmundsson, who owned one of three McDonald's restaurants in the country, said he was forced to shut his doors.