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Love it or loathe it, the big golden arches provide an instantly recognisable landmark on the most unfamiliar of skylines around the world. For many travellers McDonald's represents a safe and often cheap meal, even if a highly unimaginative one. For others it may be considered a useful stop as the cleanest free public toilets in town. Either way when passing through many parts of the world it's easy to believe that the red and yellow American fast-food giant has conquered the world.
It might be reassuring therefore to know that there are still a healthy number of countries that have yet to experience the cultural delights of the Big Mac or the Filet-o-Fish. Whether they have just said no,non, nyet, nej, etc or whether they have flirted with McDonald's before giving them the elbow, there's many a place where the fast food giant has failed to make its mark.
Here is just a selection of 10 of these countries where you'll have to make do with the local variety of fast food:
1. North Korea (ok, not so surprising here)
2. Seychelles (proof that a tropical paradise does not need to serve Big Macs to be complete)
3. Syria (as a member of George Bush's Axis of Evil it is not considered worthy enough to have a McDonald's)
4. Vatican City (the smallest country, yet it is packed with tourists who would no doubt welcome a happy meal)
5. Cambodia (it's on the cards apparently, but for now the millions of visitors to Angkor Wat have to do without the reassuring taste of home)
6. Zimbabwe (an argument for regime change surely, if one were needed)
7. Vietnam (old wounds run deep?)
8. Nepal (shame, as they could easily claim to be the highest McD's in the world - would a Quarter Pounder taste any better at 4000m?)
9. Kazakhstan (the largest country in the world to be McDonald's free)
10. Barbados (one outlet opened in 1996 and closed six months later due to poor sales)
And conversely, here are 10 surprising places where McDonald's has successfully arrived:
Iraq (ok, the McDonald's is hidden away in the Green Zone)
Qatar (maybe swung the World Cup vote?)
Japan (not surprising that they are in Japan, but more so that they have 3,500 outlets there; more than anywhere in the world outside the US)
So next time you have a hankering for meat in a bun in a box and feel guilty for supporting an all-conquering global imperialist capitalist machine, take some reassurance from the fact that there are some corners of the world that, for whatever reason, will never be lovin' it.
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There's no McDonalds in Bermuda.
Ray Blake 17th February 2011
Incidentally, Pakistans's McDonalds presence is interesting. After success in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi, they opened a restaurant in Islamabad, but closed it after 'terrorist threats'. They still operate in Islamabad but on a delivery-only basis. Advertising on every street means they now have a far higher profile in the city than when they had proper premises.
Ray Blake 17th February 2011
OK, what about Cuba? I'm sure Castro is going to do his best to keep out those yellow arches. Or sleepy Laos, or Iran, Sudan, Libya and Mali. I just can't see them all hankering after a burger.
Kathryn Bullock 17th February 2011
I wouldn't mind if there were less & more real snack stalls.
The UK, Netherlands, Belgium & Germany got amazing independent fast food stalls! Yummy!
melvin 17th February 2011
I love your sign-off line Ben, made me giggle :0)
Sarah 17th February 2011
Oh sorry, Andy! I just presumed Ben posted this up! :)
Sarah 17th February 2011
Thankfully the full list of countries with no McDonald's is longer ('only' around 130 countries have at least one outlet) - all of those on Kathryn's comment, Iceland and Bermuda are Big Mac free zones.
Thanks to all for the comments and extra suggestions. I did research the Coca-Cola equivalent list but there are very very few places where they haven't penetrated.
andyjarosz 17th February 2011
HA!! This is one of my pet peeves....I wrote about my disdain for the golden arches on my blog, A view to a thrill. I just think it's wrong to see it right next to a historical landmark. On the other hand, my readers reminded me that sometimes it will be the cleanest bathroom that you will come across during your travels. So, in my estimation, it may be a necessary evil.
Renee 17th February 2011
Seriously love this post - fun and cheeky! You made my day Andy. ;)
Nellie 17th February 2011
I believe Iceland had a mac D. But it could not compete with the pickled puffin and whale steaks and guillemot the icelanders eat. :-)
Stewart m 17th February 2011
None in Nigeria!!
Andy Campbell 17th February 2011
No maccers in Bosnia :)
Dtravelsround 17th February 2011
I've heard there may be a McDonalds opening up in Ho Chi Minh City. They have KFC. Old wounds in Vietnam? Hardly. It's presently the most American-friendy country in the world. The people are so welcoming.
Viajero 17th February 2011
This is an awesome post! I went to Barbados on 2007, and I guess I never realized there was no McDonald there.
Dina VagabondQuest 17th February 2011
None in Guyana. There was a KFC though, is KFC actually more dispersed than mcds?
Tom Greenwood 17th February 2011
correction, there's McDonalds in Vietnam! I saw it when I went there.
pinoy 18th February 2011
None in Papua new guinea. Never has been!
Anne 18th February 2011
I found a fake McDonald's in Kosovo!
Claire 4th March 2011
Does American Samoa have a slaughter house or does the food get imported?
Toko 2nd June 2011
Pinoy, where is this McDonalds in Vietnam that you speak of? We have yet to see them and I'm really craving a Big Mac right now...
Nadine 3rd September 2011
I sure for KFC in Vietnam but never see Mcdonald
Nha trang 11th October 2011
In Vietnam right now been all over never seen mc d Where is the one the says he saw?
Rick Harris 6th November 2011
There is no McD in Vietnam or Cambodia.
I'm now there and I can confirm it :).
Alfonso 12th November 2011
Cuba actually has a couple of McDonalds in the Havana airport when departing.
What about Libya???
Ruben 21st November 2011
Check the wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_McDonald's_franchises for a list of Micky D countries :)
chris 16th December 2011
just cam back from HCMC 2 weeks ago, can't find any McDonald's either, plenty of KFC and Lotteria though. wondering why as well
Ken 27th December 2011
There is no McDonalds to date in Albania either! If you go southern Albania it has gorgeous white sandy beaches too.
Brandon Wilde 25th January 2012
There is McDonalds in Vietnam in Nha Trang.
vietnam 18th February 2012
haha if you cant find it at least you well lose some weight lol
PGO TUFFGUYZ 23rd February 2012
McDonald's in Pakistan opened up in the 1990's, and has since operated non-stop in 7 major cities all over the country. It's one of the most successful fast-food chains here - only recently it's being overtaken by Hardees, which opened only last year.
I don't see why anyone would find McD's presence here surprising.
Ahsan 29th February 2012
Hi, I have a strange 'twist' when I travel - instead of buying souvenirs my family has a little competition on who can eat at Mc Donalds in most countrys...:-D I'm in the lead by 26 ( with no 27 coming up in Holland in april...:-) Found this website when I was looking for McDonalds in Vietnam for my daughter who is there now :-D
Best McDonalds so far?? India!!!
Mia from Sweden 29th February 2012
you forgot Laos
Gits Ferrari 30th March 2012
Independent Samoa has a McDonalds too, I looked inside and it was all foreigners.
submit your photos:
Todd 28th May 2012
Add Montenegro to the count (there was a short-living McD cart in Podgorica few years before Montenegro gained independence, and prolly one in the coastal). And about Kosovo (although i don't consider it a country) - there IS one - in the US Army camp Bondsteel (among with KFC, BK and Wendy's, but non-Americans need permits to enter the camp at all.)
Miroslav Milosevic 9th July 2012
there's no mc donalds in kosovo and albania either :)
Art Demjaha 9th July 2012
I saw a McDonalds' restaurant in ho chi minh city, vietnam,... 7 years ago. but now, I dont know if it's still there or get closed down like KFC near it.
ho chi minh 16th July 2012