Astana Expo 2017

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The sprawling Expo 2017 complex centers on the large sphere of the National Pavilion of Kazakhstan. The international exhibition runs from June into September in Astana, Kazakhstan. Credit: © Nick Melnichenko, Shutterstock

On June 10, the Expo 2017 international exhibition opened in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, a country in west-central Asia. Expo 2017—like so many exhibitions and fairs before it—is a celebration of international commerce, industry, and science. The theme for Expo 2017 is “Future Energy,” concentrating on clean energy innovations as well as creative ideas for the future. The expo stresses the importance of moving from polluting fossil fuels to such green technologies as wind and solar power and providing “solutions for tackling humankind’s greatest challenge”—climate change.

Expo 2017 kicked off with elaborate opening ceremonies and a speech by longtime Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. “The most advanced technologies in the field of clean energy will be showcased here,” he said. “And I hope that the results of the Astana Expo 2017 will bring tangible benefits to all.” The expo runs through the summer until September 10. More than 130 countries and numerous global organizations are taking part in the fair. Between 3 million and 5 million people are expected to visit the expo’s sprawling 430-acre (174-hectare) complex, a busy mix of international pavilions clustered around the giant sphere-shaped National Pavilion of Kazakhstan.

Astana, Kazakhstan, is known for its unusual architecture and futuristic appearance. Credit: © Shutterstock

The expo’s Energy Best Practices Area Pavilion features innovative energy-related ideas and projects dealing with the creation, distribution, storage, and use of renewable and alternative energy. The new technologies include plant-powered biological fuel cells, the harnessing of bioluminescent microorganisms to produce light, inflatable solar collectors, the use of ice to power cooling and heating systems, and electric-powered zero-emission race cars and scooters. The expo also includes a full schedule of concerts and cultural programs, as well as food and drink from around the world and numerous shops and other diversions.

The Space Needle in Seattle is one of the most recognizable buildings in the United States. The 605-foot (184-meter) tower served as the centerpiece for a 1962 world’s fair called Century 21. Credit: © Shutterstock

World’s fairs and expositions have a long tradition dating back to London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. Over the years, world’s fairs have been a showcase for new inventions, unfamiliar peoples, and new kinds of art. The newly invented telephone wowed audiences at the Philadelphia exhibition in 1876, and the Eiffel Tower changed the skyline of Paris for the world’s fair of 1889. Automobiles impressed people and scared horses as they rumbled through the 1904 expo in St. Louis, and early television broadcasts showed the future of entertainment at the famous Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago in 1933-1934. The 1962 Century 21 fair in Seattle introduced the Space Needle at the dawn of the space age.

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