Size matters

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 single store in 1962 in Arkansas. The big-box retailer has since grown to more than 6,400 stores worldwide. The first Wal-Mart 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 so far Wal-Mart boasts stores in 14 countries including Japan, China, Brazil and the United Kingdom. Hungry for more facts about the discounter? Here you go:

Wal-Mart made $312.4 billion in sales for the fiscal year ending January 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 United States 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.