Sandwich shop Subway has surpassed the golden arches as the world’s largest restaurant chain.

In terms of number of locations, Subway is now No. 1 with 33,749 worldwide locations at the end of 2010 compared with McDonald’s 32,737.

Industry observers surmise that the $5 dollar footlong helped fuel Subway’s recent growth.

McDonald’s, which had held the title of world’s largest chain since the early 1970s, remains the sales leader, reporting $24 billion in revenue last year. Subway reported $15.2 billion in revenue in 2010.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Subway surpassed the number of McDonald’s in the U.S. about nine years ago. The sandwich chain expects China to eventually become one of its largest markets. It has 199 restaurants in China now, WSJ reports, but expects to have more than 500 by 2015.

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