Kazakhstan joined the BIE in 1997 and has been an active participant in World Expos and Specialised Expos ever since, starting with Expo 1998 in Lisbon. Its pavilions have been awarded on several occasions, including Expo 2008 Zaragoza and Expo 2015 Milan. BIE Member States elected Kazakhstan as the host country of Specialised Expo 2017 during the General Assembly of 22 November 2012. The Expo, organised around the theme "Future Energy", was held in Astana between 10 June and 10 September 2017, gathering almost 4 million visitors.