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expo 2015
Do You Know Expo?
Expo 2015 in Milan is the latest in a 164-year-old series of major international events that have taken place all over the globe. But how much do you really know about world's fairs in general, and Expo 2015 in particular? To help you get to know this formidable fair, check out the following factoids and you'll be an expo expert in no time.
Q. Where is Expo 2015 being held?
A. Expo 2015 is being staged in Milan, Italy. Located in Italy's second most populous city, the event will run for six months, from May 1 to October 31, 2015. It is the second time in the 164-year-old history of world's fairs that it has been held in that 2,300-year-old city, home to Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper," and Gianni Versace S.p.A.'s headquarters. The first occasion was in 1906 to celebrate the recently completed 12-mile-long Alpine Tunnel of Sempione that connected Milan to Paris. The World Expo of 1906, aka The Great Expo of Work, comprised roughly 35,000 exhibitors, and is credited with launching Milan to prominence on the global stage. Interestingly, the most enduring legacy of that fair may have been the demonstration of the first espresso coffee machine.

Expo 2015 isn't Milan's first world expo. The city previously hosted the 1906 expo, dubbed The Great Expo of Work.
Q. What was the first world's fair?
A. The first true modern fair was the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, which took place in 1851 in London. Attended by 6.2 million people, its DNA has been cloned by all world's fairs and even trade shows many times since then, including conceptual anchors such as:
► Cutting-edge architecture. The Great Exhibition's crown jewel was the Crystal Palace, the McCormick Place of its day. Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton in just 10 days, and built in only nine months, the 746,592-square-foot glass-and-iron exhibit hall was so huge that management was forced to bring in hawks to control the rogue sparrow population, which flew in the Palace's many entrances to scavenge the litter of free food left by its 6 million visitors.
► New product launches. Voting machines, flush toilets, the McCormick reaper, and Colt revolvers debuted there. The expo was also the site of the first major international exhibition of photography, an amusement that was inching toward art and was still in its early development at that time.
► Live product demos. English physicist Frederick Bakewell demonstrated an early version of what became the fax machine. Visitors could also view cotton production from spinning the raw material to the finished cloth, while gazing later at a machine that cut, gummed, folded, and stacked envelopes.
► Oversized props, extreme entertainment, and bizarre attractions. A 4-ton crystal fountain squirted water 250 feet in the air, and a 600-voice choir serenaded Queen Victoria. Meanwhile, a stuffed elephant, a reconstruction of the Dodo bird, and the first life-sized reproductions of dinosaurs awed attendees with their depiction of nature's oddities.
► Celebrity-for-celebrity's-sake appearances. The exhibition was attended by numerous notable figures of the time, including Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Lewis Carroll, Charles Darwin, Charlotte Bronte, and Czar Alexander II of Russia.
► Profit. The show sponsor raked in $17.5 million, measured in today's currency.

The first world's fair was held in 1851. The event, known as the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, took place in London.
Q. How large are the Expo 2015 grounds?
A. Measuring 272 acres, Expo 2015 is smaller than most of the fairs that occurred in the last 30 years. Its relatively diminutive stature was likely a result of the country suffering its most severe recession since WWII, as well as the Italian public's prescient worries about the potential cost and the probable corruption that could ensue. The total expenditure of roughly $14 billion included cost overruns such as the Italian pavilion exceeding its original budget by close to 35 percent ($67.7 million inflating to $92 million) and $1.1 million to camouflage works left unfinished when Expo Milano 2015 opened. Additionally, at one point in 2014, Expo personnel and ex-government officials were arrested on corruption charges involving kickbacks of nearly $250 million worth of building contracts for the fair.

The Expo 2015 grounds could fit inside Expo 2010's grounds nearly five times. The Shanghai fair was so large, it could have contained the country of Monaco inside its own borders – twice. Another estimate said Mount Everest would fit inside Expo 2010 grounds six times.

While considered huge even in an era of 2,000-foot-tall skyscrapers, Expo 2010 wasn't an anomaly for world's fairs. Staunch advocates of the adage that "size matters," expos have always been ginormous. Starting with the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis – which, impressively, was 97 percent the size of the Shanghai expo, despite the limited logistics and technology of the time – expos began to manifest the peculiar American trait of "bigger is better," becoming titanic, if transient, cities. Indeed, the 990-acre fairgrounds for Expo 2020 in Dubai have been dubbed "Exhibition City."


Q. How many countries are participating in Expo 2015?
A. At latest count, 116 countries will be represented in Milan, along with three international organizations, 17 civil society organizations, and six corporate participants. That's roughly in keeping with previous world's fairs of the last 20 years. The 2010 world's fair in Shanghai, which drew in 192 countries and 50 international and non-governmental groups, established a new record for fairs, eclipsing the previous record of 172 set at Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, by about 40 percent. By comparison, at the 2012 fair in Yeosu, South Korea, the number of official participants was 104 countries, with nine international or non-governmental groups.

A total of 116 countries are represented at Expo 2015 in Milan, along with three international organizations, 17 civil society organizations, and six corporate participants.
Q. How many people are expected to attend Expo 2015?
A. An estimated 25 million people will visit Expo 2015 during its six-month duration. Of that total, 70 percent are projected to come from Italy, while the remaining 30 percent will arrive from other European countries, the United States, and other nations. This is in stark contrast to the roughly 5 percent of attendees who journeyed from other countries to Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea, and Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

The fair's projected audience of 25 million falls well below attendance figures from Expo 2010 in Shanghai, which realized a history-making 73.5 million attendees in its six months of operation – including a single-day record where it accrued more than 1.03 million visitors. Partly, this is a reflection of the massive physical footprint of Expo 2010 – at 1,304 acres, it was close to five times the size of Expo 2015 in Milan. Milan's attendance is also lower because the Chinese government bused thousands of workers and their families in to see Expo 2010 and boost attendance.

Still, the projected attendance for Expo 2015, if achieved, will exceed most fairs of the last quarter century. For example, Expo 2005 in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, attracted 22 million attendees, and Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, pulled in 20 million. To put the figures in perspective, the 2014 attendance figures for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL, approached 19.3 million, with Universal Studios Orlando hitting 8.2 million, and SeaWorld Orlando drawing 4.7 million.


Approximately 25 million people are expected to visit Expo 2015 during its six-month run. That's more than the current population of Australia, and more than Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom attendance during the entire year of 2014.
Q. Who is responsible for Expo 2015?
A. While the Italian government (specifically the Ministry of Economy and Finance) and an organization known as Expo 2015 S.p.A. (comprising the region of Lombardy, the province of Milan, the city of Milan, and The Milan Chamber of Commerce), essentially oversee the location, logistics, and construction of Expo 2015, the governing body that chooses fairs' locations, as well as sets the rules for them, is the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). The BIE was formally created in Paris in 1928, by an international convention. The nations that convened that year endowed the BIE with the power to select and schedule world expos. Additionally, the BIE establishes the rights, rules, and responsibilities of those who produce and take part in these fairs. Currently, the 160 member nations of the BIE convene twice a year in Paris. Membership in the BIE is open to any country that agrees to abide by the 1928 Convention and the 1972 Protocol on International Exhibitions.

Q. Is the United States a member of the BIE?
While the United States helped found the BIE, it is no longer a member of the international organization. Interest domestically in global expositions waned with the underwhelming 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN, and the 1984 Louisiana World's Fair in New Orleans – "The Simpsons" lampooned the Knoxville expo in the 1996 episode "Bart on the Road," and the New Orleans effort was the first world's fair to go broke during its run. In 1995, a Washington think tank denounced the annual BIE dues of $25,000 as "pork-barrel spending," and in 2001, under the Bush administration, the United States defaulted on its membership by simply skipping its dues for several years. The United States could rejoin the BIE by raising public or private funds to pay back dues that are estimated to be $100,000. However, while the current administration may have parted ways with its predecessor on many issues, there seems to be no visible difference in its indifference to the BIE.

Q. What products made their debuts at world's fairs?
A. From guns to gums, world's fairs have been the launching pads for dozens, even hundreds, of products that rocketed into our lives. At London's Great Exhibition of the Works of All Nations in 1851, for example, visitors not only gaped at Samuel Morse's telegraph, but they were also privy to the comforts of the first major installation of public flush privies. Thomas Edison demonstrated the dulcet tones of the phonograph at Paris' Exposition Universelle in 1889.

Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition was literally a treat for foodies, with Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, Pabst Beer, Aunt Jemima syrup, and Juicy Fruit gum taking their first major public bow there. Escalators moved people for the first time at the L'Exposition de Paris in 1900, and shortly afterward the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904 introduced the safety razor and rayon.

Kraft Foods Inc. presented Miracle Whip at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition in 1933. RCA Corp. premiered television at the 1939 World's Fair in New York, while 25 years later at the 1964 fair, also held in Gotham, the Ford Motor Co. introduced the Mustang automobile and AT&T Co. rolled out the picturephone. Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan, served as the stage for first-ever IMAX film.

Following Expo '70, companies appearing at world's fairs lessened the emphasis on revealing new products specifically and increased the focus on displaying novel technologies in general. Thus, the touchscreen was debuted at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN, while advances in robotics were highlighted at Expo'85 in Tsukuba, Japan. Further, energy-efficient transit was touted at Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, and Green technologies, such as smog-absorbing paint, were featured at Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes – or even Inspector Clouseau – to deduce why exhibitors chose world's fairs to debut new wares and the products of industrial science. The reason was simple math: Millions of attendees meant millions in sales. Before television and the Internet could introduce products to the masses in one fell swoop, world's fairs constituted the greatest concentration of consumers in one space at any one time. Indeed, the 10 million attendees at Philadelphia's Centennial International Exhibition in 1876 represented almost 25 percent of the total populace of the United States. Additionally, the 27 million who showed for Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 were the equivalent of about 42 percent of the country's head count.

Even in this century, with a slew of ADD-inducing diversions, entertainments, and brand experiences, fairs are still people magnets. At the 1939 New York World's Fair, 45 million attended, equaling nearly 34 percent of the country's residents. Expo '67 in Montreal drew 50 million – 2.5 times Canada's entire population, and Shanghai received 73.5 million visitors. Nearly 10 million came to Yeosu, South Korea, for Expo 2012, and 25 million are projected to attend Expo 2015 in Milan. Like trade shows themselves, these figures suggest that world's fairs will continue to be a preeminent showcase of emerging products and technologies.


Cream of Wheat, Pabst Beer, Juicy Fruit Gum, and Aunt Jemima Syrup all debuted at the 1893 world's fair, while the Ford Mustang debuted at the 1964 world's fair.
Q. Does every country have its own pavilion?
A. Participating countries either build their own exhibition space (referred to as self-built pavilions), or they can exhibit alongside other countries inside one of the nine thematic clusters. Since the official Expo 2015 theme is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," this expo's cluster pavilions are centered on basic food stuffs and food-related geography. The clusters' official titles and themes are: Rice; Cocoa and Chocolate; Coffee; Fruits and Legumes; Spices; Cereals and Tubers; Islands, Sea and Food; Arid Zones; and Bio-Mediterraneum. About 65 countries are located in the various clusters. Wealthier nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Japan, and China, built their own pavilions. Others, such as Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Kenya banded together with seven others in the Coffee cluster, while Cuba and Cameroon are among the six stationed in the Cocoa and Chocolate pavilion.

Q. What is the official theme of the Expo? Why was it selected?
A. The theme of Expo 2015 is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." While the theme sounds almost like a tagline for Monsanto Company Inc., it addresses, like most recent fair motifs, a widespread problem that threatens to become a worldwide calamity. The theme encapsulates the fair's concentration on the challenges of an increasingly populated planet where, according to The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 805 million people of the 7.3 billion in the world, or roughly 11 percent, are chronically undernourished. Additionally, a lack of adequate nutrition underlies 3.1 million child deaths annually.

That number and percentage of calorically-challenged persons will only increase, due to the Earth's population swelling to a projected 9 billion by 2050, and to climate change and its distressing effect on growing seasons. A study published in the journal PLoS Biology concluded that by 2100 there could be an 11-percent drop in the length of growing seasons worldwide. Aggravating the diminished growing seasons will be weeds, pests, and fungi that thrive under the warmer temps, wetter climates, and heightened CO2 levels that climate change brings. This will result in what the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience refers to as "food shocks." These shocks, where production of the planet's four main commodity crops – wheat, rice, maize, and soybeans – falls by 5 to 7 percent, used to occur once a century. Now scientists project climate change will speed the rate of at which shocks occur by 300 percent.

Accordingly, Expo 2015's participants display a variety of approaches to this vast and uncompromising problem, such as Oman's sustainable water-management techniques and Bangladesh's adoption of solar energy that benefits small farmers. Others, like Switzerland, take a storytelling approach out of the moral fables of Aesop: Visitors to its pavilion can take any amount of a visibly finite supply of water, salt, coffee, and apples from a quartet of cardboard silos packed with the items – but they must weigh how much they take against how much they leave behind for later attendees, as a metaphor for our short-sighted patterns of consumption that may doom the next generation. Inside Pavilion Zero, which is operated by Expo officials and incorporates content provided by the United Nations, takes intangible data – the 1.3 billion tons of edible food that's thrown out every year – and makes it tangible by depicting heaps of it piled high in organic towers.

Other exhibitors, such as Identita Golose, a Milan-based chefs' organization, which brings in an ever-changing lineup of Michelin-starred chefs (a roster including Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia in Chicago and Vladimir Mukhin from White Rabbit in Moscow), tend to stray from the spirit of the fair's theme a bit with four-course meals running $85.

On a related note, the theme for Expo 2020 in Dubai is "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future."


Q. What is the mascot for Expo 2015?
A. Foody is the official mascot of the Milan Expo, meant to symbolize the fair's theme of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." Designed by Disney Italia and named through a public contest, Foody is accompanied by a posse of other sentient edibles with backstories, such as Rodolfo the Fig, who is "Loved by all the girls, especially the more mature ones," and Pomina the Apple, who " ? has always dreamed of starring in a melodrama [but blew] all of her auditions…"

Fair officials eagerly compared Foody to the work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a 16th century Italian artist famed for painting elegant portraits such as one of Roman Emperor Rudolf II. While the illustrated mascot's colleagues feature bodies and heads consisting of fruits and vegetables, Foody himself more closely resembles a rogue M&M character cosplaying as Carmen Miranda.


The Expo 2015 mascot, named Foody, was designed by Disney Italia, and underscores the event's official theme, "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life."
Q. What does Expo 2015 have to do with exhibit and event marketing?
A. While for the most part countries fill the role at Expo 2015 that corporations do at trade shows and events, all are similar in the techniques they bring to bear to achieve results. For example, Thailand's or Turkey's chief goal at Expo 2015 may be to improve their national images instead of selling widgets or generating leads, but both are doing it with branding and marketing campaigns executed via their respective exhibits or pavilions. Like companies exhibiting at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) or the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), nations at Expo 2015 construct limited physical spaces in close proximity to their competition for a short duration. Each fills its space with staffers and often products to engage attendees with demos, presentations, literature, entertainment, activities, and the like. The United States, for instance, will man its pavilion with several dozen bilingual college students to greet and mingle with visitors, believing that non-professionals serve as more effective ambassadors for the American brand than any slick piece of "Mad Men"-style promotion could.

Like all other world's fairs and exposition, however, Expo 2015 does have its share of commercial entities striving to meet standard-issue corporate goals. At Expo 2015, for example, China Vanke Co. Ltd., China Corporate United, Coca-Cola Co. and others have built pavilions with exhibits and displays to expose their brands to the expo's audience of 25 million.

China Vanke Co., the largest residential real estate developer in the People's Republic of China, is now expanding into Hong Kong, the United States, and other markets. Playing on motifs from Chinese mythology, the company's pavilion, armored in 4,000 shimmering red metalized ceramic tiles, evokes a coiled dragon. Inside the 8,600-square-foot structure, a matrix of bamboo scaffolding contains 200 video screens arranged like leaves that haphazardly fell out of the sky. The monitors tell stories of food and shared meals in an interior modeled after the traditional Chinese shi-tang, or dining hall. Like companies that sponsor a PBS program or an upscale museum exhibit, China Vanke hopes its brand will thus be associated with, and burnished by, linking itself to the lofty themes of Expo 2015.

Creating an even tighter and more obvious nexus between its exhibit and its brand is New Holland Agriculture (NHA), with its Sustainable Farm Pavilion. To help position itself as a leader in clean energy, the Turin, Italy-based maker of agricultural machinery placed two automated tractors plowing the 17,000-square-foot pavilion's sloped roof, leaving zero carbon footprint by using fuel it creates on-site. Like General Motors Corp. exhibiting its outre concept cars at the North American International Auto Show, or Facebook Inc. demonstrating its Oculus VR division's latest virtual-reality headset at the International Consumer Electronics Show, New Holland Agriculture will try to establish itself as an industry leader by tantalizing attendees with visions of the world tomorrow will bring.


Q. What happens to the pavilions after Expo 2015 is over?
A. Once the fair closes its doors on October 31st of this year, the same destiny lies in store for most of the pavilions there that awaited buildings from all other world expos and fairs: razing or removal. For most of the world's fairs' 164-year-old history, the buildings they housed were designed to be as ephemeral as they were elegant. Almost all of the structures at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, for example, were deliberately engineered to last a maximum of a year or two, despite facades that resembled the centuries-enduing marble of the Parthenon or the age-defying limestone of the pyramids. In reality, the exterior materials were simply a mixture of plaster of Paris and hemp fibers called "staff," spread over wooden frames. Similarly, buildings at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago crafted an illusion of permanence with 1/2-inch-thick wallboard set over a steel framework.

Like most other fairs, many of Expo 2015's pavilions have a rendezvous with a wrecking ball after the exposition closes. This is, in part, because the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), which governs world's fairs, stipulates all foreign pavilions must generally be torn down when an expo ends. But this is also because the expo site itself is often valuable industrial real estate. The 272-acre Milan site was recently offered for sale by fair officials with a price tag of $350 million. (To ease the way for future developers, the entire site was covered with a concrete foundation slab.) When it is eventually purchased, the most likely uses would be a new stadium or possibly a scientific campus for the State University of Milan conjoined with an incubator for tech startups. The one structure currently slated to remain after Expo 2015 ends is the Italian pavilion, clad in 2,000 tons of a special smog-eating concrete that looks as if a spider had spun a web of white frosting around the six-story building. Its post-Expo life will be as a center for technical innovation.

In recent years, some countries have responded to the increasing effort to Green expos by reusing their pavilions. For example, the four towers comprising hundreds of cardboard boxes in the Swiss exhibit will be shipped back to Switzerland after Expo 2015 closes and repurposed into urban greenhouses. Similarly, the Chinese pavilion will eventually be disassembled and transported to Qingdao on the east coast of China, where it will be reincarnated as a public facility for a local park. The Slow Food pavilion's trio of wooden structures will also be dismantled and find new purpose as school garden sheds in Italy. Made of woods culled from its thick forests, Slovenia will strike its pavilion and reassemble it back home where it will be opened to the public. The United Kingdom's exhibit, a stylized beehive made out of 169,000 aluminum parts, will eventually be dismantled and rebuilt for use in England.

While show organizers exhibited an early form of planned obsolescence with these edifices, a handful of buildings from world expos avoided the scrap heap, often because of their overwhelming popularity and strategic re-purposing. Here are a few examples:

► The Eiffel Tower, constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, was originally slated to be torn down after 20 years. Now 126 years old, it has received more than 250 million visitors.
► The main building at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia is now the Please Touch Museum.
►  The Palace of Fine Arts, erected for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, later became the Museum of Science and Industry.
► The Magic Fountain of Montjuic, built for the 1929 Great Universal Exhibition in Barcelona, is now an established stop for tourists, with illuminated water shows accompanied by music.
► The Atomium, a model of an iron crystal atom magnified 165 billion times fabricated for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, now offers a restaurant and exhibits on the fair, and was renovated in 2004.
► The Space Needle, raised as the focal point of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, is a permanent tourist attraction with an observation deck and a restaurant 500 feet off the ground.
► The Unisphere, the stainless steel model of the Earth fashioned for the 1964 New York World's Fair, was granted official landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1995.
► The United States pavilion at Expo '67 in Montreal, a 250-foot-diameter geodesic dome, was transformed into the Montreal Biosphere, a museum focusing on environmental issues.
► Habitat 67, a 13-story-tall Lego-like apartment complex designed by for Expo '67 by architect Moshe Safdie, is a functioning building with 160 living units.
► The 266-foot-tall Sunsphere, the centerpiece of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN, survived the end of the expo. Today, visitors enjoy its observation deck and exterior, which is laminated with a gold-dust-filled vinyl.
► The Canadian Pavilion, constructed for Expo '86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, is now Canada Place, a combination convention center/hotel/office building/cruise-ship terminal.
► The Chinese pavilion for Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the largest and perhaps the most expensive ever built at 207 feet and $220 million, was turned into the China Art Palace at the fair's close.
► The 240-foot-tall Sky Tower at Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea, was formerly two linked cement storage silos transformed into a desalination facility and multimedia exhibition hall for the fair that continues to operate after the expo's close.
Generally not counted among the major world's fairs, the 1891 General Land Centennial Exhibition in Prague left an architectural legacy that includes the Krizikova Fountain, the Art Nouveau-style Hanava Pavilion, and Petrin Tower, a 197-foot-high replica of the Eiffel Tower.
While the Prague fair, as well as the others listed above, enjoyed a degree of foresight in deciding which structures would survive, Expo '92, in Seville, Spain, left them by default. Finding itself bereft of sufficient funds to demolish many of the buildings on the 530-acre site, the city (which had also hosted the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929), left many of them standing. Now partly a science and education park called Isla Magica, the site contains leftover edifices (one estimate puts it at 30 percent of the original buildings), now rusting and growing over with trees. These include Hungary's wooden pavilion, built with seven lance-like spires, and a giant owl-like mask on the exterior that was supposedly a kind of snub to the Vatican, whose pavilion it neighbored.

While the vast majority of world expo structures are destroyed shortly after the fair ends, some icons of past expos still remain. For example, the Eiffel Tower was originally constructed for the 1889 world's fair in Paris, the Space Needle was originally constructed for the 1962 world's fair in Seattle, and the Unisphere was originally constructed for the 1967 world's fair in New York.
Q. How is Expo 2015 different from Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea, or Expo 2010 in Shanghai? Are they all considered world's fairs?
A. While Expo 2015, Expo 2010 in Shanghai, and Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea, all share a common nomenclature and are frequently referred to generically as world expos, they are technically different.

Expo 2015 and Expo 2010 are what the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE, the Paris-based organization that governs expos) categorizes as a world expo (aka international registered exhibition, world's fair, or universal exposition). Expo 2012, meanwhile, was what the BIE has classified since 1988 as an international/specialized expo (also called an international recognized exposition).

Besides the names, the most salient distinctions between the two types are those of scale, chronology, and duration. Starting with the 21st century, world expos like the ones in Milan and Shanghai can now occur every five years, in years that end with a 5 or a 0 (e.g., 2010, 2015, and 2020), while international/specialized expos, such as the previous one in Yeosu, can take place any time between two world expos.

World expos last as long as six months (in the past, some ran for two years, such as Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition, which stretched from 1933 to 1934, and New York's World's Fair, which took place from 1964 to 1965), but international/specialized expos are allowed to run for no more than three months. World expos can be staged over an unlimited amount of space, but international/specialized expos are constrained to a maximum of 25 hectares (about 62 acres, or 2.7 million square feet). To give a real-world idea of their size, 25 hectares is virtually equal to the total amount of retail space in the Mall of America.

There are two other key distinctions that bear mentioning. In world expos, the participating countries and other organizations must construct their own pavilions, while in international/specialized expos, the show organizer builds pavilions, then makes areas within them available to participants free of rent or any charges.

While the world expos and international/specialized expos make up the vast majority of these global exhibitions, there is a third, lesser known, variety. Since 1960, the BIE has included a type known as international horticultural exhibitions. Even though these botanical expos can be extensive, and, as evidenced by their name, can attract a global audience, they are not considered in the same league as world expos and international/specialized expos. Recent versions have taken place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 2006 to 2007, and in Venlo, Netherlands in 2012. The next two scheduled such expos are slated for Antalya, Turkey, in 2016, and Beijing three years after that, in 2019.


Q. Where and when will the next Expo after Milan take place?
In 2013, the BIE selected Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as the site for Expo 2020, the next universal exposition. It beat out Ekaterinburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; and Sao Paulo, Brazil after three rounds of voting. (The city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, also applied for the 2020 fair, but the BIE rejected its bid when the Thai government refused to follow through with assurances of financial, logistical, and diplomatic support.)

The next major world expo will take place in the United Arab Emirates in 2020, under the theme "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future." It will be the first time a world's fair has been held in the Middle East. The expo venue, dubbed "Exhibition City," is located in Dubai, near Al Maktoum International Airport.
It will be the first time a world's fair has been held in the Middle East. Scheduled for October 2020 to April 2021, the fair will have the theme "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future." It will be held in "Exhibition City," a 990-acre site situated close to Al Maktoum International Airport. Dubai intends to spend $2 to $4 billion to develop infrastructure for the expo, which it hopes will help generate approximately $40 billion in revenue from 25 million visitors expected to visit the exhibition. Seventy percent of those visitors are expected to come from outside Dubai's borders.

Expo 2017, which is among the smaller, industrial/specialized expos governed by the BIE, is slated to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, the next international/specialized expo, aka international recognized exposition, is slated for 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, beat out Liege, Belgium, for the honor. The exposition will run three months under the theme "Energy of the Future."
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