The Real Reason Iceland Closed All Its McDonald's Locations

McDonald's is one restaurant you expect to see absolutely everywhere. In fact, that's one way you know you're in Podunkville, East Nowhere, when your town's too small to even have a Mickey D's. (It'll probably still have a Dairy Queen, though.) Wherever you roam throughout the world, the one thing you can be sure of is that you can always get a little taste of home (even if a slightly different one), since the Golden Arches have a global presence. In fact, if you ever got to take that dream vacation to the moon, you'd probably expect to see one there, too, complete with entertainment by Mac Tonight.

It may surprise you to learn that, according to World Atlas, there are actually quite a few countries on the face of this planet that do not have one single McDonald's restaurant to call their own. Well, maybe you won't be too shocked to hear that Mickey D's hasn't attracted any franchisee-wannabes in North Korea, Iran, or Afghanistan. More surprising is the fact that only four out of 54 countries in Africa have McDonald's locations: Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, and South Africa. 

European countries that lack McDonald's include Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and, surprisingly, Iceland. While Iceland once had McDonald's restaurants, since 2009 they've been Mickey D's-free. But why? Did the entire nation watch the documentary Super Size Me and decide it had better start eating healthier? 

Why Iceland closed its McDonald's restaurants

In 2008, the country of Iceland suffered a significant economic collapse, and suddenly the Icelandic króna wasn't worth nearly as much as it had been in better days. Iceland Review reported that McDonald's regulations called for the use of imported beef, and suddenly the cost of this, as well as of the cheese and vegetables needed to make the burgers, was way too high for the restaurants to continue to turn a profit. Instead, all three McDonald's locations in Reykjavik ceased to operate, and were later converted into an Icelandic burger chain called Metro that was permitted to make use of tariff-free local ingredients.

While Mickey D's may be gone from Iceland, the last burger sold still lingers on. This cheeseburger now reposes in a glass-encased shrine in a guest house in South Iceland, accompanied by an equally-elderly order of McDonald's famous fries. And no, 10-plus years down the road, neither the world's second-oldest McDonald's burger nor the fries appear to have decayed one bit.