Forget California

“If California were a country, it would be the eighth largest country in the world”. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen this sentence over the years (not that I’ve been counting) – a sign of the sheer size of this one state to the US economy, and where state-level government makes a worldwide impact – whether from its budget deficit and spending, its claims to be pioneering a low-carbon economy, and so on.

Now the Economist has come up with a terrific infographic that breaks down Chinese provinces, treating them as if they were countries of their own and comparing them to ‘real’ countries.

Move over, California. While no Chinese province yet outmuscles California in the global economy, the ubiquity of the Californian comparison is as much about its economic size, as its symbolism in representing a US-led world. But as that unparalleled US dominance is narrowed over the course of the coming century, perhaps it’ll be a Chinese province, and not a US state, that becomes the standard reference point.

The interactive version, that allows for additional comparisons of Chinese provinces to the world’s countries by GDP per capita, population, and exports, is here; for fairness, US states compared to the world is here.

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