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There are a multitude of ways to look at the Fortune Global 500 ranking of the world’s largest companies. The most direct, of course, is from the top down. For an eighth straight year, the list begins with Walmart at No. 1, after the retailer racked up $559 billion in revenue. But another illuminating prism through which to view the Global 500 is to identify the biggest company in each of the 31 countries on the list, as in the graphic below. Of that group, French insurance giant AXA, No. 46 with $128 billion in revenue, is the oldest, tracing its history back to 1816. The youngest is Chinese utility State Grid, founded in 2002, which ranks No. 2 with $387 billion in sales. Together, these 31 national champions boast $3.9 trillion in total sales and employ 8.4 million people.
This article appears in the August/September 2021 issue of Fortune with the headline, “Crowning the national champions.”