World Expos, officially known as International Registered Exhibitions, are a global gathering of nations dedicated to finding solutions to pressing challenges of our time by offering a journey inside a universal theme through engaging and immersive activities. World Expos welcome tens of millions of visitors, allow countries to build extraordinary pavilions and transform the host city for years to come.

The first World Expo – the Great Exhibition – took place in London in 1851. The concept became popular and was repeated across the globe, demonstrating an unparalleled power of attraction and a record of world-class legacies. Since the BIE was created in 1928 to regulate and oversee these mega-events, World Expos have explicitly been organised around a theme that attempts to improve humankind’s knowledge, takes into account human and social aspirations and highlights scientific, technological, economic and social progress.

In the modern era, World Expos are unrivalled among international events in their size, scale, duration and visitor numbers. They are large-scale platforms for education and progress that serve as a bridge between governments, companies, international organisations, and citizens.

The most recent World Expo took place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022.

The next World Expo will take place in Osaka, Kansai, Japan between 13 April and 13 October 2025, under the theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”.

In 2023, BIE Member States elected Saudi Arabia as host country of World Expo 2030, which will be organised in Riyadh under the theme “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow”.

View the full list of all World Expos since 1851

Official Designation International Registered Exhibition*
Organiser Host country
Theme A universal challenge of our time
Duration Up to six months
Frequency Every five years**
Size No maximum size (Expo 2020 Dubai covered 438 ha)
Pavilions Participants may build their own pavilions or rent a dedicated space***
Official Participants Countries and International Organisations
Non-Official Participants Cities, Regions, Companies, Civil Society and NGOs

* The 1928 Paris Convention initially referred to ‘General Exhibitions of the 1st category’ and ‘General Exhibitions of the 2nd category’. Following a protocol to the Convention in 1972, the two categories were replaced by a single classification ‘World Exhibition’. A new amendment adopted in 1988 and applied from 1996 gave World Expos their current official term ‘International Registered Exhibition’.

** The interval between two World Expos has differed through time. The 1928 convention fixed a minimum of six years between two World Expos of the same category (with some exceptions introduced in its 1948 Protocol). The 1972 Protocol introduced an interval of 10 years, and the 1988 Protocol fixed the current interval to 5 years.

***‘The difference between General Exhibitions of the 1st and 2nd category was that in the latter, participants could not be induced to construct their own pavilions.