Thanks to a tweet by Marc Andreessen, I saw a couple of maps like the one above drifting around on the Internet yesterday, in which states are compared to countries with equal or nearly-equal gross domestic product.
It's a lesson in the massiveness of the American economy (California's economy is as large as Russia's!). And it's fun, so late last night I downloaded data from the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Commerce and made my own comparisons. Minnesota is the size of Malaysia; Wisconsin, Egypt; Florida, the Netherlands.
The one on Strange Maps is just old, out of date, apparently based on 2007 data.
McKay's map, which was actually posted six days ago by a Redditor named Phaenthi, is better, and our maps agree in several instances. However, Phaenthi sometimes uses the same country for multiple states (I gave each state its own country), and I chose a slightly different methodology. While Phaenthi's map lists each state as a country it overtakes in GDP, mine organizes the states and countries so that the comparisons are based on which are closest, give or take a little. This helps in the case of California, which is significantly larger than Canada by GDP and aligns more closely with Russia. Also, Minnesota is well ahead of Nigeria but is similar to Malaysia. Wisconsin beats Ireland by a wide margin but its GDP is almost identical to Egypt's.
Now, six nations have such large economies that none of the 50 states compare: they are China, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain and Brazil. California has the largest economy in the U.S. by far -- over $2 trillion in 2012 GDP -- and it is smaller than each of those. But California is almost even with Russia and Italy, and bigger than any other country.
Here are the top 25 economies in the world, according to the World Bank, and the 10 American states that reach the same level. (I calculated the difference between each country and state I compared, and tried to minimize it as much as possible by moving states around. Also included in the spreadsheet are Phaenthi's choice for each state.)
And here's my methodology for all 50 states. You can see that the difference between the country and state is rarely more than 10 percent, give or take. Apologies to Kansas, Nevada and Utah. There were no perfect country comparisons in the $135 billion GDP ballpark.
These are total GDP numbers, not per capita. That's another project for another day.
And finally, yes, I know Puerto Rico and Hong Kong are not countries. But the World Bank tracks their GDPs and using them was helpful in making other comparisons more accurate.
If anybody else is weirdly interested in this sort of thing and wants the data, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll ship it over.