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Just how big is Foxconn?

The company that makes our gadgets is bigger than the Big Easy, more crowded than Mumbai.

Foxconn's army of workers is bigger than most military forces.
CC Bert van Dijk/Flickr

Until the past year, it's safe to say that many of us had never heard of the Taiwan-based company Foxconn, whose Chinese factories (they also have a few, smaller facilities in the U.S. and other countries) make a huge amount of our gadgets for companies like Apple, Dell, and Amazon. That was, until the company was besieged by a string of negative revelations, mostly focused on working conditions and employee suicides--something the company tried to address by having workers sign a pact not to kill themselves--and most recently, this month's deadly explosion at an iPad polishing plant.

Now that Foxconn is fully in the spotlight, it makes sense to get to know the company a little better. So, I did some research and came away with one basic conclusion--this company is huge. To see what I mean, here's some key Foxconn statistics put into perspective:

Foxconn by the numbers:

1.3 million employees: That's the number the company said earlier this year that it hopes to have in place by the end of 2011, when it announced it had already exceeded a million workers. If they reach that number, there will be more people working for Foxconn than:
• live in Alaska and Wyoming combined;
• live in the entire New Orleans metro area;
• live in the cities of Dallas or San Francisco;
• serve as active duty troops in the military forces of every country in the world except China, the United States, and India (and India has just slightly more troops than Foxconn has employees);
• work for Wal-Mart Stores in the United States. OK, not quite but close. Wal-Mart has 1.4 million, but by most estimates, Foxconn would have the edge in a count of full time workers, most of whom work much more than full time;
• the number of unemployed Americans who want a job but aren't looking (1.2 million), according to a November 2010 jobs report--perhaps because they heard how many jobs have been outsourced to Foxconn.

500,000 employees:The number of workers at Foxconn's Shenzhen facilities alone. "Foxconn city" covers 1.16 square miles, has more than a dozen factories, its own downtown, swimming pool, fire department, and hospital. With most workers housed in crowded dormitories, this enclosed industrial city is:
• more populous than the cities of Atlanta or Miami;
• by far the "city" with the highest population density in the world, more than five times as dense as Mumbai.

500: The number of retail stores that a Foxconn subsidiary plans to open in China to sell some of the products it makes, including Apple products.

More than 100 million: The approximate number of iPhones Foxconn has produced.
• in other words, just about all of them.