These are the 15 companies more powerful than most countries: Walmart, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Apple and Glencore top the list by Foreign Policy

Catherine Neilan
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Some multinationals are more powerful than this (Source: Getty)

We live in a world of multinational corporations - effectively "stateless" companies that select where they are domiciled based on tax laws, red tape and ease of carrying out business.

Some of the biggest companies in the world now employ more people than entire populations of countries - others have higher revenues than major world powers' GDP.

Apple, famously, has more cash than the GDP of two-thirds of the world's countries. With yet another product launch today, that could climb even higher. But it's not the only one. And, as we shift from "stateless" to a possible "virtual" corporate world, Foreign Policy points out that the balance of power is changing.

"The rise of metanationals isn’t just about new ways of making money," a new report says. "It also unsettles the definition of 'global superpower.'

"The debate over that term usually focuses on states... [but] corporations are likely to overtake all states in terms of clout."

These are the top 15 corporate nations, according to Foreign Policy.

1) Walmart: Revenues $488bn, no. of employees: 2.2m; population of Slovenia: 2.1m

2) Exxon Mobil: Revenues $269bn, Finland's GDP: $267bn

3) Royal Dutch Shell: Revenues $265bn, Greece's GDP: $242bn

4) Apple: Revenue $234bn, economic output (2014) $87bn; Oman's economic output $82bn

5) Glencore: Revenue $221bn, Qatar's GDP: $202bn

6) Samsung: Value of brand $45bn, value of national brand of Croatia $32bn

7) Amazon: Number of Amazon active users 244m, Population of Brazil 204m

8) Microsoft: 1.2bn users, 107 languages spoken; Cyprus 1.2m population, 2 official languages

9) Nestle: Revenue $93bn, operates in 86 countries, sells productsin 196

10) Google/Alphabet: Market cap of $547bn, world's most valuable public company

11) Uber: Car fleet 1.1m; US government vehicle fleet 633,851

12) Huawei: Services available in 170 countries

13) Vodafone: No of customers 461m, US population 323m 

14) Anheuser-Busch InBev: Has a 46pc market share in the US

15) Maersk: Has enough containers to equal 8,550 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other

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