The World’s Fair is the name given to various large generalistic public exhibitions held since the 1800’s. They are the second largest events in the world after the World Games in terms of economic and cultural impact.
During the 1800’s an internationalist sentiment rose as the means of transportation were being developed making the world smaller. In order to make response to the growing imperialist rivalries talks about establishing international festivals and events in general started to be an option to promote world peace and international friendship. Such would give origin to events like the World Games and the World’s Fairs among others. Some countries already had held large national exhibitions and such inspired to create one in an international level.
The first World’s Fair was held in London in 1869 under the title “Great Exhibition of All Nations”. It celebrated both the Queen Victoria I of England and Scotland 50th anniversary and the opening of the Suez Canal. As the queen was related to many of the European royal families many nations across the continent participated. In total 20 countries from three continents were present, all from Europe apart the NAL-SLC, New Francy, Louisianne and the Ottoman Empire, and they took advantage from the event to promote themselves in terms of economy, technological achievements and national prestige in general to the eyes of the visitors.
During next years several similar events were held across Europe and America all calling themselves World’s Fair, International Fair or International Exhibition. There was no central organisation and often these exhibitions had different levels of largeness and organisation and were held at the same time, or at least on same year, in different parts of the world. With the intention to give some order to these exhibitions was created the International Committee for World’s Fairs (ICWF), in 1885, being a federation of international commissions.
From now on cities, often with national government backup, should apply their candidature to hold a recognised World’s Fair. The Committee intended to keep the World’s Fair ideal as well organised as the 1869 London World’s Fair did.
Paris was the first city chosen by the ICWF to hold a World’s Fair. This exhibition, in 1889, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and was for the first time titled as World’s Fair. It was even bigger than London 1869, with 33 participating countries and 28 million visitors. Paris 1889 focused in technological achievements and main entrance became famous for its huge iron tower, planned by Gustav Eiffel. Other large iron constructions were made for this World Fair and somehow they shown the “superiority of industrialised world” according to contemporary press.
Unfortunately this World’s Fair, which supposed to be a place of meeting for the several countries, was the first to suffer a boycott for political reasons. New Francy refused to participate.
After the end of the exhibition most of its iron constructions were dismantled, including the Eiffel Tower. Such dismantling proved to be quite unpopular among the architectural circles which pressured local government to rebuild at least some of those iron constructions.
Next World’s Fair was held in Chicago, NAL-SLC, in 1893. It was titled the World’s Columbian Exposition and for the first time it was held outside Europe. For the first time it devoted a building to electrical exhibits. It was an historic event as Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse introduced visitors to alternating current power by using it to illuminate the Exposition. On display were Tesla's fluorescent lights and single node bulbs. Tesla also explained the principles of the rotating magnetic field and induction motor by demonstrating how to make an egg made of copper stand on end in his demonstration of the device he constructed known as the "Egg of Columbus".
Other World’s Fairs followed. Paris had its second World’s Fair, in 1900, held at the same time of the first edition of the World Games. Here the Eiffel Tower was rebuilt having the look which is known today, now even larger and became a symbol not only from Paris but also from France. Philadelphia hosted the fourth World’s Fair in 1903, celebrating the centennial of the NAL-SLC independence. Finally in 1913 Los Ángeles, in Alta California, hosted a World’s Fair celebrating the completion on the Nicaraguan Canal.
This one was the last World’s Fair, due to the First Great War. With such impressively large armed conflict it seemed ideals such as the World Games or the World’s Fairs weren’t enough to make nations join hands to work together in peace.
Finally first post-war World fair was held. In 1927 London hosted for its second time a World’s Fair. It celebrated the millennium of the Kingdom of England. For many this was mostly a propaganda exposition as it strongly focused the ideal of Top Nation on which the Federated Kingdoms and the Commonwealth of Nations are seen as the “light of civilisation and culture”. Such was quite disliked by other nations especially by the newly established Snorist Russia. This had also African countries first participation: Egypt and Ethiopia.
Next World’s Fair was held in 1935 in Vilnius, Lithuania. It was the way found from Lithuanian government to show the world Lithuania as an emergent colonial power during Antanas Smetona rule. This was the most exotic of all World’s Fairs, titled World’s Colonial Fair, as several of the participating countries having their own colonial empires saw a chance to show their rule over “uncivilised countries” and their “role in bringing civilisation to all parts in the world”. In this World’s Fair pavilions showing the most exotic cultures were built and gave the chance to public to know cultures from all continents. Some of the pavilions were impressive, were presented replicas from entire towns and monuments from colonised nations. Also there were living people from “primitive nations” brought by some of the participating countries in a large human zoo. Once again there was a boycott, Ethiopia considered it as a defence to colonialism and didn’t participate.
New Amsterdam hosted the 1939 World’s Fair which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the end of the First Great War. It was a rather optimistic event devoted to the “world of tomorrow” and seeing technology for the use of common good and peace. Such proved to be rather naïf as soon the world itself was under a series of large generalised wars on which technology was used mostly for military purposes and mass destruction.
No World’s Fair was held during the 1940’s due to world’s state of war. The only one scheduled (Moscow 1947, celebrating the 400th centenary of the coronation of the first tsar) had to be cancelled.
In 1950 was signed the Convention on International Exhibitions by several organisations. ICWF and several others were merged and became a newly created commission of the League of Nations: the Commission for International Exhibitions (CIE). From now on the CIE, headquartered in Paris, should be responsible for scheduling, chose candidatures and supervising worldwide exhibition events. These should follow an internationalist line promoting peace and mutual understanding. New rules also intended to end the existing time gap between World’s Fairs. There was a gap of twenty years between London 1869 and Paris 1889, others were shorter. World’s Fairs should be now more regular, they shouldn’t be held in consecutive years and there shouldn’t be a time gap longer than five years.
First post war World’s Fair was held in 1953 in Edo, for celebrating the centennial of the opening of Japan to outside world. But it was widely seen as an opportunity for rebuilding the city after Japanese Civil War and the Great Oriental War.
Oceania had its first World’s Fair in 1955. It was hosted in Sednîr and for the first time there were countries from all continents participating. It was combined with the 15th Summer World Games held in the same city.
Next World’s Fair was held once again in Europe. Jervaine’s capital city, Reondradun, hosted it celebrating both the tenth anniversaries of national independence and the end of Second Great War. It was until then the largest post war World’s Fair and a massive success with 42 million visitors setting a new all time visitors number record. Among its surviving structures there’s the “Dove of Peace”, a huge iron sculpture which became one of the best known landmarks of Reondradun. On that World’s Fair the mayor of Reondradun offered a scaled replica of the “Dove of Peace” to the Mayor of Hamburg. Since then became a tradition to pass that small sculpture to the mayor of the next city selected for holding the event. Another tradition set was to announce the next hosting city at the end of the World’s Fair.
Reondradun 59 was followed by the 1962 Hamborg World’s Fair which celebrated the millennium of the Holy Roman Empire. Initially Berlin, the Prussian capital city, was the original candidate for the 1962 World’s Fair but due to pressures from the other german electorates who were still afraid from the power of Prussia Hamborg was chosen.
World’s Fair returned to Asia in 1964. Xinjing, capital of Beihanguo, hosted it and once again was held at the same time and same city as the Summer World Games. It was followed by Ville-Marie World's Fair, held in 1967.
1969 had three candidates for organising the event. London presented its candidature for celebrating the centennial of the first World’s Fair while The Hague based its candidature on the 50th anniversary of the League of Nations. The CIE favoured The Hague as London already had hosted two World’s Fairs (1869 and 1927). The other losing candidature was Budapest, which intended to celebrate the centennial of Hungarian independence.
This one was followed by the 1973 New Amsterdam World’s Fair (once again held together with the Summer World Games) and the 1977 Quiòto World’s Fair (celebrating Emperor Saisei’s Coronation Silver Jubilee). The 1973 edition had the concurrence from Moscow candidature for 1972. It was supposed to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Admiral Kolchak but such was refused by the CIE as it was considered too political.
After two previous failed attempts Russia finally hosted a World’s Fair. 1982 Moscow World’s Fair was held together with the 24th Summer World Games. Both were supposed to be impressive events on which the snorist regime made a huge investment. But international politics spoiled part of the celebration. Many democratic nations together with all Moslem countries and all communist countries boycotted both events in a protest against Russian invasion to the Moghul National Realm.
In response the snorist countries led by Russia boycotted the following 25th Summer World Games in Philadelphia and the 1985 Castreleon World’s Fair (held at same time as Empire Games). This was the first time that Snorist Russia didn’t participate in a World’s Fair since SNOR regime was established. CIE, disliking the growing politisation of the World’s Fairs, announced that further boycotts would be punished with expelling from the commission. Every country always participated if they would and official boycotts wouldn’t be necessary.
Edinburgh was followed by 1989 Paris World’s Fair (celebrating the French Revolution Bicentennial), the 1992 Santa Fe de Bogota World’s Fair (celebrating the 500th centenary of the discovery of America), the 1997 Budapest World’s Fair (held together with the 29th Summer World Games), the 1999 Warsina World's Fair (celebrating the 50th anniversary of the RTC), the 2003 Philadelphia World’s Fair (celebrating the NAL-SLC independence bicentennial) and the 2005 Shanghai World’s Fair (celebrating the 600th anniversary of first Zheng He’s sea expeditions).
Next World’s Fair will be held this year (2009) in Athena, Greece, together with the 33rd Summer World Games. According to tradition at its end will be announced the following World’s Fair, to be held between 2011 and 2014.
World’s Fairs were often held together with other large events. For several times they were held together with the Summer World Games. Also some were held (or at least presented candidatures) together with the Empire Games, the largest sports competition of the Commonwealth of Nations.
This is being a way found in order to spare resources and, most of all, to focus the world more strongly in a certain country or city. Also made possible to increase the number of visitors to both events and therefore to increase their profits.
Small and poor states often had difficulties to participate in the World’s fairs. Initially political blocks, such as the Commonwealth of Nations, helped its smaller or poorer members to participate by building them their pavilions, or financing their presence. This could increase those blocks’ participation.
Thanks to the Commission on Very Small States (CVSS) and other commissions of the League of Nations the presence of smaller and poorer states became increasingly depoliticised.
The LoN sponsors since the early 1960’s pavilions for some of the newly independent countries which emerged from decolonisation. Usually these pavilions serve several different poor and underdeveloped countries.
The CVSS established smaller states participation based on international cooperation. For every World’s Fairs edition the CVSS take turns choosing three or four small nations to represent them at the fairs, then pool all their resources into putting together a really good pavilion every time. Small states are invited on a rotational basis, based on seniority in the CVSS. Any small state that doesn’t wish to participate at a particular fair at its allotted time would be passed over and must wait until its turn comes up again.
The Convention on International Exhibitions
In 1950 the several organising commissions were merged in one under the sanction of the League of Nations. It was a way found in order to give some order to the many international exhibitions organised by several different commissions.
The Convention on International Exhibitions was signed for that purpose. From then on a World’s Fair to be considered as such should follow several conditions:
- All participating countries should be independent and internationally recognised ones.
- A World’s Fair can only be considered as such if there are at least participating countries from three continents. Later this condition was changed due to the increasing number of new countries after decolonisation. Nowadays there should be participating countries from all continents.
- World’s Fairs should include countries from different political blocks, different cultures and religious majorities. This was an effort in order to make the event to be as more multicultural as possible.
- Finally should not be specialised. For that purpose already existed industrial fairs, cultural fairs, and philatelic fairs and so on. World’s Fairs are supposed to show every country in their complete spectre, from economy to culture.
Before 1950 only nine international exhibitions respected completely these conditions, therefore only these ones are listed by CIE as World’s Fairs although some other large international exhibitions held had same name. Despite 1947 Moscow World’s Fair was cancelled it was also considered as the participating countries list respected the convention.
In later reviews to convention the number of continents was increased (as stated above) so as were made efforts to cut on political or ideological use. World’s Fairs nowadays cannot follow any political ideology so as shouldn’t follow themes that could be hostile or offensive to any country. This explains somehow why so many candidatures together with the World Games were made in the last years. World’s Fairs celebrating a certain historical event can be a reason for commemorate for some but also offensive to others.
Despite since its beginnings the World’s Fairs weren’t supposed to be a political event many times were used to spread political ideologies or official points of views by is organising countries. For example, the 1927 London World’s Fair was a truly announcement to the world of the Top Nation concept and the 1935 Vilnius World’s Fair strongly defended colonialism and intended to show Lithuania to the world as a colonial power. In general most of the organising countries always used the World’s Fairs as a way to promote themselves, and their ideologies, to the world.
Participating countries also used the event in the same way. The most powerful ones, especially, always made large investments in their pavilions being rather famous Snorist Russian ones usually based on National Realism architectural style. Also the largest ever made World’s Fair pavilion was Russian: on the 1959 edition a replica of the White Square on scale was presented. Countries always used their presence as a platform to improve internationally their image. Therefore the World’s Fairs are considered by many as the largest propaganda event of all.
For several times World’s Fairs were directly strongly used by politics. The 1889, 1935, 1982 and 1985 editions saw boycotts for political reasons.
The World’s Fairs and the CIE have been often accused of favouring Christian European and North American countries in the organisation of the event. In fact most of all World’s Fair were held in these continents and none was ever held in Africa. CIE defends itself by saying to hold such huge event it is necessary a very strong economical backup.
There are also rumours saying the juries who make the choice for the World’s Fairs are often bought by the candidates. This was never confirmed.
Locations of the World’s Fairs
|Year||Name of Exhibition||Host city||Country||Notes||Number of visitors (in millions)||Competing losing candidatures|
|1869||Great Exhibition of All Nations||London||England, FK||Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria I of England and Scotland and the opening of the Suez Canal||6||none|
|1889||Paris World’s Fair||Paris||France||Celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution. Boycotted by New Francy||28||none|
|1893||World’s Columbian Exposition||Chicago||NAL-SLC||Celebrating the quatricentennial of the discovery of America||27||none|
|1900||Second Paris World’s Fair||Paris||France||Held together with the 1st Summer World Games||27||none|
|1903||Centennial Exhibition||Philadelphia||NAL-SLC||Celebrating the centennial of NAL independence||19||none|
|1913||Los Ángeles World’s Fair||Los Ángeles||Alta California||Celebrating the opening of the Nicaraguan Canal||10||none|
|1927||London World’s Fair||London||England, FK||Celebrating the millennial of England||26||none|
|1935||World’s Colonial Fair||Vilnius||Lithuania||Presenting Lithuania as an emergent colonial power. Boycotted by Ethiopia||20||none|
|1939||New Amsterdam World’s Fair||New Amsterdam||NAL-SLC||Celebrating the decennial of the end of the First Great War||40||none|
|1947||Moscow World’s Fair||Moscow||Russia||Celebrating the quadricentennial of the coronation of the first tsar. Cancelled due to Second Great War||none||none|
|1953||Edo World’s Fair||Edo||Japan||Celebrating the centennial of the opening of Japan to outside world||25||?|
|1955||Sednîr World’s Fair||Sednîr||Australasia||Held together with the 15th Summer World Games||11||?|
|1959||Peace World’s Fair||Reondradun||Jervaine||Celebrating the decennial of both national independence and the end of the Second Great War||42||?|
|1962||Hamburg World’s Fair||Hamburg||HRE||Celebrating the millennial of the Holy Roman Empire||35||?|
|1964||Xinjing World’s Fair||Xinjing||Beihanguo||Held together with the 18th World Games||35||?|
|1967||Ville-Marie World’s Fair||Ville-Marie||New Francy||?||?||?|
|1969||The Hague World’s Fair||The Hague||Batavian Kingdom||Celebrating the cinquentennial of the LoN||31||-London 1969 (celebrating the centennial of the first World’s Fair) -Budapest 1969 (celebrating the centennial of Hungarian independence)|
|1973||Second New Amsterdam World’s Fair||New Amsterdam||NAL-SLC||Held together with the 21st World Games||38||-Venice 1971 (celebrating the septcentennial of first Marco Polo’s travel) -Moscow 1972 (celebrating the Kolchak’s birth centennial) Edinburgh 1972 (to be held together with the Empire Games)|
|1977||Quiòto World’s Fair||Quiòto||Japan||Celebrating Emperors Saisei’s Coronation Silver Jubilee||33||-Bons Oratges 1976 (celebrating the centennial of Riu de L’Argent independence)|
|1982||Moscow World’s Fair||Moscow||Russia||Held together with the 24th World Games. Boycotted by many democratic and all the communist and Muslim nations||18||?|
|1985||Castreleon World’s Fair||Castreleon||Kemr, FK||Held together with the Empire Games. Boycotted by the snorist nations||36||?|
|1989||Third Paris World’s Fair||Paris||France||Celebrating the French Revolution bicentennial||40||?|
|1992||Columbian Celebrations World’s Fair||Santa Fe de Bogotá||New Kingdom of Granada, Castile and Leon||Celebrating the discovery of America quincentennial. Parallel exhibition held in Seville, in Castillian Spain, but without World’s Fair status||31||?|
|1997||Budapest World’s Fair||Budapest||Hungary||Held together with the 29th World Games||35||?|
|1999||Warsina World’s Fair||Warsina||RTC||Celebrating the RTC semicentennial||32||?|
|2003||Bicentennial World’s Fair||Philadelphia||NAL-SLC||Celebrating the bicentennial of NAL-SLC independence||41||Christiania 2002 (celebrating the Viking arrival to America millennial), Rio de Janeiro 2003 (also candidate to the 31st Summer World Games. Failed both candidatures), Petrograd 2003 (celebrating city's tricentennial)|
|2005||Shanghai World’s Fair||Shanghai||Shanghai||Celebrating the sexcentennial of the first Zheng He’s sea expedition||41||?|
|2009||Athena World’s Fair||Athena||Greece||Held together with the 33rd Summer World Games||?||?|
|2012||Nagano World’s Fair||Nagano||Yamato, Japan||to be held together with the 28th Winter World Games||?||Reondradun 2011, Chicago 2011, Johannesbourg 2013|