Here’s How Many McDonald’s There Are in the World — And the Countries Where You Won’t Find One

McDonald’s is more than just a restaurant; it’s a cultural icon. Founded in 1940, this American fast-food chain has grown exponentially, becoming a fixture in cities and towns worldwide. From Big Macs to Happy Meals, McDonald’s has created a brand that’s both ubiquitous and beloved. But while it seems like there’s a McDonald’s on every corner, there are still some places where the golden arches haven’t set up shop.

The Number of McDonald’s Worldwide

As of the latest data, McDonald’s operates over 38,000 locations in more than 100 countries. This vast number is a testament to the brand’s successful global strategy and its ability to adapt to various markets. But let’s break it down further to see where these restaurants are concentrated and where they’re notably absent.

McDonald’s Expansion Over the Years

McDonald’s began its international expansion in 1967, opening its first restaurant outside the United States in Canada and Puerto Rico. Since then, the chain has experienced steady growth, adapting its menu and marketing strategies to fit local tastes and cultures. This flexibility has been crucial in its ability to establish a global presence.

Top Countries with the Most McDonald’s Locations

1. United States

It’s no surprise that the United States tops the list with over 13,000 locations. McDonald’s is an integral part of American culture and daily life, with many towns boasting multiple outlets.

2. Japan

Japan ranks second with nearly 3,000 locations. McDonald’s in Japan is known for its unique menu items tailored to local tastes, like the Teriyaki Burger and Ebi Filet-O (shrimp burger).

3. China

China has seen rapid growth in McDonald’s presence, with around 3,800 locations. The chain has successfully tapped into the Chinese market by incorporating local flavors and efficient service.

4. Germany

Germany boasts about 1,500 McDonald’s restaurants. The brand has been well-received, with some locations even serving beer to cater to local preferences.

5. Canada

With over 1,400 locations, Canada was one of the first countries outside the US to welcome McDonald’s. It remains a popular fast-food destination for Canadians.

Countries Without McDonald’s

1. Iceland

Iceland had McDonald’s until 2009, when economic conditions forced the chain to close its doors. High operational costs and import duties made it unsustainable.

2. North Korea

North Korea’s political climate and isolationist policies mean that Western brands, including McDonald’s, are absent from the country.

3. Iran

Due to long-standing political tensions between the US and Iran, McDonald’s has never set up shop in Iran. Local businesses often offer alternatives that mimic the McDonald’s menu.

4. Macedonia

Macedonia had McDonald’s restaurants, but they closed in 2013 due to a dispute between the local franchisee and McDonald’s headquarters.

5. Bermuda

Bermuda has strict regulations on fast-food chains to protect local businesses, which has kept McDonald’s out of the island nation.

Reasons Why Some Countries Don’t Have McDonald’s

1. Economic Factors

In some countries, the cost of importing ingredients and maintaining quality standards can be prohibitively high, making it difficult for McDonald’s to operate profitably.

2. Political Reasons

Political tensions and sanctions can prevent McDonald’s from entering certain markets. This is the case in countries like Iran and North Korea.

3. Cultural Preferences

In some regions, local food preferences and cultural attitudes towards fast food can limit McDonald’s appeal. For instance, in parts of Africa and Asia, traditional food remains dominant.

4. Regulatory Challenges

Stringent regulations and policies aimed at protecting local businesses or controlling foreign investment can hinder McDonald’s expansion, as seen in Bermuda.

Cultural Impact of McDonald’s Around the World

McDonald’s has had a significant cultural impact globally, often symbolizing American culture and consumerism. It has influenced eating habits, popularized fast food, and even altered local culinary practices. In many countries, visiting McDonald’s is seen as a modern and trendy activity, especially among younger generations.

Unique McDonald’s Menus in Different Countries

1. India

India’s McDonald’s menu is unique due to religious dietary restrictions. You won’t find beef or pork; instead, there are options like the McAloo Tikki (a potato patty burger) and the Chicken Maharaja Mac.

2. Italy

In Italy, McDonald’s offers the McItaly burger, which includes Italian ingredients like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pancetta, catering to local tastes.

3. Philippines

The McDonald’s menu in the Philippines includes items like Chicken McDo with Spaghetti, reflecting the local love for fried chicken and sweet-style spaghetti.

4. South Korea

South Korean McDonald’s offers the Bulgogi Burger, a twist on a traditional Korean dish, incorporating marinated beef patties.

5. Thailand

In Thailand, you can find the Samurai Pork Burger, featuring teriyaki-glazed pork, catering to local flavors.

The Future of McDonald’s Global Expansion

McDonald’s continues to explore new markets and expand its presence in existing ones. The company is investing in technology to improve customer experience, such as self-service kiosks and mobile ordering. Moreover, McDonald’s is focusing on sustainability and healthy menu options to align with changing consumer preferences.

Sustainability and McDonald’s

McDonald’s has committed to sustainability initiatives, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sourcing sustainable beef, and minimizing plastic use. The company aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, reflecting its commitment to environmental responsibility.

The McDonald’s Experience: Beyond Just Burgers

Visiting McDonald’s is about more than just grabbing a quick bite; it’s an experience. From the familiar taste of a Big Mac to the excitement of a Happy Meal toy, McDonald’s offers a sense of comfort and nostalgia. The brand’s ability to provide a consistent experience globally while also catering to local tastes is a key part of its success.


McDonald’s is a global powerhouse with a presence in over 100 countries, but it’s not everywhere. Factors like economic challenges, political barriers, and cultural preferences can keep the golden arches out of certain regions. Despite these limitations, McDonald’s continues to adapt and thrive, offering unique menu items that cater to local tastes while maintaining the core elements that have made it a beloved brand worldwide.


1. How many McDonald’s are there worldwide?

As of now, there are over 38,000 McDonald’s restaurants in more than 100 countries.

2. Why did McDonald’s leave Iceland?

McDonald’s left Iceland in 2009 due to high operational costs and economic conditions that made it unsustainable.

3. Are there any McDonald’s in Africa?

Yes, there are McDonald’s in several African countries, including South Africa and Egypt. However, their presence is limited compared to other continents.

4. What is the most unique McDonald’s menu item you can find?

One of the most unique items is the McAloo Tikki in India, a burger made with a spiced potato patty to cater to vegetarian preferences.

5. Why doesn’t McDonald’s operate in Iran?

Due to long-standing political tensions and sanctions between the US and Iran, McDonald’s has never established a presence in Iran.

By understanding the global reach of McDonald’s and the factors influencing its presence in various countries, we gain a better appreciation for this iconic brand. Whether you’re grabbing a burger in Tokyo or a McFlurry in Paris, McDonald’s offers a taste of familiarity and comfort, proving that it’s truly a global dining experience.

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