Like the World's Fairs of the pre-BIE era, World Expos welcome tens of millions of visitors, allow countries to build extraordinary pavilions and can transform the landscape of a city for years to come.
However, the main difference with the Expos of those times is that World Expos are no longer solely dedicated to showcasing industrial progress and showing off national prestige. They have become discussion platforms aimed at finding solutions to universal challenges of our time, such as urbanism (Expo Shanghai 2010) or nutrition (Expo Milan 2015).
They take place every 5 years and last up to 6 months.
World Expo Identity Card:
Trademark: Its Innovative architectural landscape and urban legacy
Who creates the event: World Expos are national events hosted in a chosen city. They are part of the city's urban development plan and often correspond to a (re)branding strategy.
Who participates to the event: Countries, Companies, International Organisations, the civil society, and NGOs are invited to participate by building their pavilions and organising events.
Who visits the event: The general public. No less than 15-20 million people generally visit World Expos, with a record of 73 million people in Shanghai 2010. The Expo is also visited by heads of States and heads of Governments.
Why: The goal of a World Expo is to raise awareness on and find solutions to universal challenges of our time such as urbanism in Expo Shanghai 2010 or nutrition in Expo Milan 2015. These challenges are the "theme" of the Expo.
How: Participants can build their own pavilions in which they can display their ideas, experiences and best practices on the Expo theme. From the outside, the pavilions are innovative architectural structures inspired by the identity of the participant and by the Expo theme. Inside, the pavilions offer visitors a journey through the theme and showcase innovations and discoveries.
Size of the Expo site: The BIE Convention doesn't limit the size of World Expos. They have extended up to 523ha in the past (Shanghai 2010).
When: World Expos take place every 5 years and last up to 6 months.
Where: World Expos can take place anywhere in the world, but BIE Member States will be given priority. There must be 15 years in between two World and International Expos held in the same country.
The Next World Expo: Expo Dubai 2020 (the UAE)
Urban impact: Given their size, World Expos are part of the urban development strategies of their host-cities. They are extremely efficient tools to modernize transportation infrastructures, introduce innovative urban services and develop new economic and cultural activities. The scope of this urban transformation can go beyond the site of the Expo itself and change the way a whole city is managed.
List of Historical Exhibitions
List of World Expos since the creation of the BIE