08/20/2012 10:53 am ET Updated Aug 21, 2012

Amazing Time-Lapse Video Shows How Walmart Conquered The U.S. (VIDEO)

Here's a reminder that even huge corporate behemoths start out as small businesses.

The video above shows how Walmart has grown in the United States since its 1962 founding as a small discount store in Rogers, Ark.

Today Walmart operates 3,913 locations in the U.S. and employs more than 1.4 million Americans. Since 1990, the total number of U.S. locations has nearly tripled. Walmart stores now use five times as much electricity as the state of Vermont, net sales exceed the GDP of Norway, and Walmart stores' combined square footage dwarfs that of Manhattan.

But the nation's largest retailer has faced heavy criticism along the way. Supporters claim the chain's legendary low prices help low-income households afford everyday goods. Critics contend those low prices depress local wages and kill small businesses.

As the video above illustrates, Walmart has largely exhausted places in rural areas to build new stores, and is now making in-roads into America's largest cities. In the last few years, the chain has eased its entry into cities with donations to politicians and local nonprofits, along with claims that it helps economic growth.

But some researchers have called those claims into question and a recent bribery scandal in Mexico has made it more difficult for the chain to flex its muscles with local officials.

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