According to the McDonald's Corporation website (as of January 2018), McDonald's has locations in 101 countries. More than 36,000 restaurants around the world serve 69 million people every day. However, some of those locations listed as "countries" are not independent countries at all, such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which are United States territories, and Hong Kong, which at the time of establishment was under British control, before its handoff to China. On the flipside, there is a McDonald's on the island of Cuba, though it's technically not on Cuban soil - it's on the American base at Guantanamo, so it qualifies as an American location. Regardless of country definition, 80 percent of the locations are owned and operated by franchisees, and 1.9 million people work for McDonald's. In 2017, revenue for the fast-food restaurant amounted to $22.8 billion.
In 1955 Ray Kroc opened his first location in Illinois (the original restaurant being in California); by 1965 the company had 700 locations. Just two years later the company officially went international, opening in Canada (Richmond, British Columbia) and Puerto Rico in 1967. Now, Canada has 1,400 McDonald's restaurants, and Puerto Rico boasts 104. Canada's McDonald's locations are the biggest restaurant buyer of Canadian beef in the country.
Different McMenus Worldwide
Besides buying their ingredients where they operate, around the world the restaurants also adapt the McDonald's menu to local tastes, such as Japan serving a pork patty teriyaki burger and "Seaweed Shaker" or chocolate-drizzled fries, Germany serving shrimp cocktail, Italy's burger being topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Australia offering a guac salsa or a bacon cheese sauce as a topping for fries, and French customers being able to order a caramel banana shake.
Available only in Switzerland is the McRaclette, a sandwich of beef that includes slices of raclette cheese, gherkin pickles, onions, and a special raclette sauce. But forget the beef in India. There the menu includes vegetarian options, and they specialize the cooks in the kitchen - people cooking meats, such as chicken, don't cook the vegetarian dishes.
Historically Significant Worldwide Locations
During the Cold War, some of openings of the countries' McDonald's restaurants were seen as historic events, such as the first ones in East Germany shortly after the Berlin Wall fell in late 1989, or in Russia (then the U.S.S.R.) in 1990 (thanks to prerestroika and glastnost) or other Eastern Bloc nations and China during the early 1990s as well.
Is McDonald's the Largest Fast-Food Chain in the World?
McDonald's is a huge and mighty fast-food chain but is not the largest. Subway is the largest, with 43,985 stores in 112 countries as of early 2018. Again, many of these "countries" are not independent and are merely territories. And Subway's restaurant count certainly includes all those that are part of other buildings (as half of a convenience store, for example) rather than counting only standalone restaurant locations.
The third runner-up is KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken), with 20,500 locations in 125 countries, according to its official website. Other widely spread worldwide food brands that the United States has exported include Pizza Hut (14,000 locations, 120 countries), and Starbucks (24,000 locations, 75 markets).