Expo history

Hall of Energy / Expo history / The history of World Fairs

The first of the famous World exhibitions was called Foire de Saint Denis. This World exhibition was held near Paris. The first World exhibition was founded by the King Dagobert in 629. And in 710 so called World exhibition already collected more than 700 merchants.

During XVIII-XIX centuries with the development of manufacturing that became a product of the Industrial Revolution, exhibitions turned from the direct sale places into the places of demonstration of a wide range of useful things. Only samples of goods were demonstrated, so the term “World Exhibitions” appeared. 


The first World`s Fair was held in 1851 in Hyde Park in London on the initiative of Henry Cole, a statesman, entrepreneur and designer, and Prince Albert. The Fair`s motto was a slogan “Let all nations work on the great deal – betterment of society”. The main attraction of the Fair was the Crystal Palace erected by Joseph Paxton from iron and glass. The building was constructed from individual structures, which were easy to assemble and disassemble. The palace embodying the beginning of the “golden age”. In subsequent years similar facilities from iron and glass – reading rooms, malls and arched galleries were built in the largest cities. 

Just then those exhibition principles were developed, which eventually become mandatory as recorded in relevant international regulations. Their main objective is a public demonstration of the latest scientific and technical achievements, development prospects, as well as the history, traditions and culture of the participating country. At present, 65 Fairs have been held. Let`s consider the history of EXPO exhibitions in other countries. 

The event was so successful that it was decided to repeat it. In 1855 Napoleon III ordered to arrange the exhibition in Paris. In 1862 a forum again was held in London. In 1867 Paris hosted the next World`s Fair, which initiated the traditions to place expositions of the participating countries in specially erected national pavilions. The capital of France was the main exhibition center for a long time. The Eiffel Tower was the monument of the Paris Exposition in 1889. 

In 1990 the World`s Fair in Paris was visited by 51 million people – the record number for the whole history of XIX century.

In 1904 in San Luis (USA) the visitors could for the first time try iced tea, hot peas, rolls with ice cream and enjoy infant incubators. In 1939 the first RCA achievement in television and the first water turbine were presented in New York.

Since the World`s Fair in New York in 1939, the original character of exhibitions began to change, and they began to be devoted to more specific cultural topics predicting brighter future for the society. Exhibitions supported active intercultural communication for the exchange of innovations. 

After the Second World War, mankind was exhausted and crippled both morally and physically with a sense of need for spiritual renewal. The striving for peace and progress manifested in establishing the United Nations Organization and was reflected in the spirit of the World`s Fairs.

The Brussel`s Atomium, Fuller`s geodesic dome and “Habitat 67” projected by the Israel architect Moshe Safdie in Montreal in 1967, “Space Needle” in Seattle and “Tower of the Sun” in Osaka are the expression of the desire of mankind to all new and modern.

Later World`s Fairs have become places of entertainment and leisure: “La Ronde” park in Montreal, “EXPOland” In Osaka.

Since 1988, the countries began to use exhibitions more as a way to improve their national image due to their exhibition pavilions.

Kazakhstan is a member of the International Exhibition Bureau (IEB) since 1997 and participates in EXPO since 2005.

Let`s consider the history of EXPO in more detail from the moment of Kazakhstan`s entry to this organization.

1998, Portugal, “The Ocean is a heritage for the future”

From May 22 to September 30 Lisbon (Portugal) hosted EXPO-1998 exhibition on the theme “The Ocean is a heritage for the future”. The theme was chosen in connection with the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama`s, Portuguese navigator, discovery of the sea route to India. About 155 countries and organizations were presented. Approximately 11 million people visited the exhibition for 132 days. The EXPO-1998 area spread out on 5 km and occupied 50 ha in the eastern part of Lisbon on the banks of the Tagus River. 


Newly-designed product of the exhibition was the development of the Swiss watch company “Swatch”, which manufactured a special wristwatch with a built-in chip, which after magnetization served as the entrance tickets at the turnstiles. During the exhibition there were two types of pavilions: thematic and regional. Today`s so-called EXPO area is a modern area of the city with the population of about 28 thousand people.

2000, Germany, “Humankind – Nature – Technology – the creation of a new world” From June 1 to October 31 EXPO-2000 was held in Germany. The famous fair-ground of Hannover, where the international IT – exhibition CeBIT was held, was chosen as a venue. 

 For the Federal Republic after 10 years after reunification, EXPO-2000 was a good chance to show itself as a welcoming country, nation with a highly developed culture and modern science. With its theme “Humankind – nature – technology – the creation of a new world”, the EXPO-2000 exhibition clearly, precisely and fascinatingly showed how the world can work jointly to meet successfully the challenge of the future.

185 countries and 9 international organizations were invited in 1995 by the Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the World`s Fair in Hannover. More than 180 countries and organizations gave their consent to participate in the exhibition – more than in all previous EXPOs. They demonstrated themselves in pavilions and halls of the exhibition complex, as if inviting visitors to take a tour around the world.

The main theme of the exhibition was divided into separate sections: “Planet of visions”. “Humankind”, “Environment: landscape and climate”, “Nutrition” and many others. On the territory of 100 thousand square meters guests from around the world visually and actively acquainted with ideas and proposals to resolve the problems of the future and took with them the ideas for living in a common future world.

2005, Japan, “Nature`s Wisdom”

From March 25 to September 25, EXPO-2005 was held in Aichi Prefecture (eastern part of Nagoya) in Japan, where more than 100 countries were represented. The main characters of the exhibition were numerous robots, which were engaged in cleaning of territory, provided information to visitors and played with children. 


Contact of the civilization with the nature was vividly demonstrated at the exhibition – the ability of the first to learn wisdom from the second.


The pavilion of the host country was constructed from biodegradable plastic made of starch and food waste, and its main feature was a large bamboo grid covering the whole pavilion. This innovation is an alternative to freon and other conditioners. Reducing exposure of sunlight and creating the effect of “the wind in the bamboo grove”, such innovation allows to reduce the indoor temperature by 23 per cents.


The exhibition itself was located in south-east of Seto (Aichi prefecture) and occupied the area of 540 hectares. The area around Seto is mountainous covered with forests, and therefore it is not so convenient for constructing exhibition pavilions. The exhibition lasted for 185 days. The expositions of 121 countries were presented there, and not less than 15 million viewers visited it. 


EXPO-2005 was intended to show how the latest technologies could co-exist with solicitous attitude to the environment. 


For the first time in its history, the Republic of Kazakhstan took part in the EXPO.


2008, Spain, "Water and Sustainable Development"


From June 14 to September 14, 2008 one of the most important cities of Spain hosted the World`s Fair under the slogan “Water and Sustainable Development”. Within three months, all the attention was focused on the theme of water. 


The exhibition city with the area of 25 ha was designed by the most prominent Avant-garde architects. All exhibition space was filled with magic and surprises; the tsunami simulator and the biggest freshwater aquarium in Europe were demonstrated there. Visitors were able to try local cuisine and participate in festivals of all countries of the world, as well as to learn and to try everything that was related to water. Totally 104 countries took part in the exhibition. 

Kazakhstan at EXPO-2008

Following the results of EXPO-2008 in Zaragoza, among 104 participating countries, on “C” category, Kazakhstan`s pavilion was awarded the bronze medal for the third place according to the criteria of the external and internal appearance.

During his visit to the international exhibition “EXPO-2008, Zaragoza”, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, mentioned the need for such event in Astana.


2010, China, “Better city - better life”

In 2010, during 184 days – from May 11 to October 31 – the World`s Fair was held in Shanghai, People`s Republic of China. The exhibition theme was “Better city – better life”. 198 countries and 27 international organizations took part in the exhibition. The exhibition was visited by about 70 million people.



The exhibition was placed in the coastal zone on both banks of the Huangpu River between Nanpu and Lupu bridges at the area of 5,28 km². “EXPO Axis” was passed through the most important and interesting part for the visitors of the exhibition. “EXPO Park” is a green area open for visitors and located on the territory of the exhibition city. The total number of cultural and entertainment events was about 20 thousand for the whole duration of the exhibition, i.e. about one hundred events every day.

The Zone “Best urban development practices” was opened for the first time at the Shanghai exhibition. Original projects for improving the life quality in cities were presented there. The Zone was conceived as a platform, on which the representatives of cities were able to exchange experience in the field of urban development and built-up.

Kazakhstan at EXPO-2010

Kazakhstan`s pavilion was located in “Asia” zone in the neighborhood with Japan and South Korea. The main objective of the Kazakhstan pavilion at EXPO-2010 in Shanghai was the international positioning of Astana as the youngest and dynamically developing capital of the world. The theme of the national Kazakhstan`s exposition was “Astana is a heart of Eurasia”. The pavilion was visited by about 1 million people.

EXPO-2010 Exhibition proposed a conceptual solution to the problems relating to the reduction of resources, reduction of the crime rate, environment pollution by modeling the cities of the future. The Organizers of the event earned profit in the amount of 12 billion USD. Income of medium business increased by at least 20 per cents.


2012, South Korea, “The Living Ocean and Coast”

From May 12 to August 12, 2012, Yeosu, the South-Korean city, hosted the International specialized exhibition with the theme “the Living Ocean and Coast”.  

Beside the EXPO exhibition itself, EXPO city, parking, parks, green areas, restaurants, museums and cafes were located at the exhibition territory with the area of  250 000 sq.m.

The venue of the exhibition was chosen not by accident and was located on the picturesque shore of the ocean that fully met the theme of the exhibition.

The territory of the exhibition overlooks Halyusido, the sea National Park, and Odongo Island, and is surrounded by 317 islands having ideal national conditions, which revive the theme of EXPO.

EXPO-2012 in Yeosu provided an opportunity to improve the idea of the international society about the functions and importance of the World Ocean and coast and to recognize the need for cooperation in the maritime domain.

Kazakhstan at EXPO-2012

Kazakhstan presented its pavilion for the fourth time at the EXPO World Universal Exhibition. The Kazakhstan`s pavilion was constructed taking into account the traditions and innovations in culture and science, business and tourism. The pavilion was dedicated to the theme of water and narrated about the history and traditions of Kazakhstan, its modern life and its prospects for the future.

The Kazakhstan`s pavilion consisted of 6 zones. Visitors saw and participated in the interactive shows, which broadcasted around the whole pavilion. The Kazakhstan`s pavilion paid special attention to Astana, at that time it was just a candidate city for holding EXPO-2017 on the theme “Energy of the Future”.


2015, Italy, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”

The World`s Fair “EXPO-2015” was held in Milan (Italy) from May 1, 2015 to October 21 of the same year. 


Numerous exhibition areas, thousands of exciting activities, cultural events and meeting, performances and concerts of “EXPO-2015” were devoted to the traditions and innovations in the food production.  

A huge territory with the area of more than 1 million sq.m. in the north-west of Milan was assigned for the exhibition pavilions. The main exhibition area was Fiera Milano Exhibition Center.

Kazakhstan at EXPO-2015

At the World`s Fair “EXPO-2015”, the National pavilion of the Republic of Kazakhstan was included to the top three pavilion in the nomination: “The best disclosure of the theme and content”. According to the jury, the content of the Kazakhstan pavilion was able to reveal the theme of the exhibition, as well as to acquaint visitors with the agriculture, geography, traditions and peculiarities of catering services and national cuisine.

The theme of the Kazakhstan`s pavilion located in two-story building with the total area of 3000 sq.m. was “Kazakhstan is a country of opportunities”.

During the whole period of the exhibition, the pavilion of our country was one of the most visited and was leading following the results of the poll organized by the Exhibition Steering Committee. Every day 5000 people visited the pavilion. The queue of guests, who wished to visit the pavilion, did not decline until the closing day of the exhibition. By the end of the Exhibition, the Kazakhstan pavilion was visited by 1 million people. 


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