Put it in perspective

Wal-Mart makes more money than most countries and is the world’s largest private employer. But it didn’t start out big—it grew from a singe store in 1962 in Arkansas. The big-box retailer has since grown to more than 6,400 stores worldwide. The first supercenter was opened in 1988 (now there are more than 1,900 in the States), and the first international stores opened in Mexico City in 1991. In 1995, the company had spread to all 50 states, and to date Wal-Mart boasts stores in 15 countries including Japan, China, Brazil, Germany and the UK. Hungry for more facts about the discounter? Here ya go:

• Wal-Mart made $312.4 billion in sales for the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2006.

• If Wal-Mart were a country, it would rank No. 21 out of 180 in Gross Domestic Product. Saudi Arabia ranks 22nd with a GDP of $307.8 billion.

• Wal-Mart’s annual sales are more than the combined GDP of the bottom 80 countries on the list.

• There are more than 3,800 stores in the U.S. and 2,600 in 14 other countries.

• The company employs 1.3 million people in the United States.

• 127 million people per week visit Wal-Mart stores in the United States.

• Wal-Mart discount stores and supercenters have a combined area of more than 16.6 square miles. That’s slightly more than half the size of the city of Chico, which is 30.52 square miles.