Expo-92

Expo-92
   The sixty-fifth Universal Exhibition, Expo-92, took place on the island of La Cartuja, in the Guadalquivir river facing the historic centre of Seville, from 20 April to 12 October 1992. Together with the Barcelona Olympic Games and Madrid's tenure as European City of Culture, this was one of the three major international events held in Spain to commemorate the Quinto Centenario (five-hundredth anniversary) of Columbus" first voyage to the Americas in 1492. In the run up to the exhibition, five years of publicly and privately financed construction work produced 70 km of new roads, including the SE30 motorway, eight new bridges over the river, a new train station to accommodate the high-speed AVE Madrid-Seville link instituted to coincide with the event, and numerous new hotels, apartment blocks and car parks. The airport was modernized and historic buildings, including those which had housed the 1929 Hispano-American Exhibition, were restored. The development of the site itself, with its 68 pavilions, 96 restaurants, 150 shops and 70 bars, completely transformed the city's appearance and left it better linked to the rest of the country and the international community than it had ever been in its long history.
   Represented in the exhibition, the theme of which was the Age of Discovery, exemplified in the five pavilions (the Fifteenth Century, the Discoveries, Navigation, Nature and the Future), were 102 countries, 58 having their own national pavilions, with smaller countries sharing five collective pavilions. Although the exhibition strove to live up to its publicity slogan of Todo el mundo está en una isla (The whole world on one island), the 12 million visitors who came at a rate of over 200,000 a day were significantly less than the 14 to 15 million budgeted for, and many of the 55,000 cultural events were rather poorly attended.
   Well-publicized disruptions caused by sporadic protests from Native American rights activists, two major fire scares and subsequent suggestions of political nepotism by the PSOE government, plus allegations of financial impropriety in the allocation of building contracts, have not ultimately undermined the overall judgement that the event was a success. The effects of the world recession of the time, which contributed to the shortfall in meeting projected visitor targets and income budgets, were less marked in Andalusia, historically one of Spain's poorest areas. A joint venture known as Cartuja-93, between the event organizer and the local authorities, has successfully recouped some of the capital investment, through the sell-off of much of the real estate, and the exhibition site has been redeveloped as a theme park, the Parque de los Descubrimientos (Discovery Park), which has continued to attract tourist trade to the area. Furthermore, the improved infrastructure and communications resulting from the exhibition are expected to offer significant long term benefits to the local economy.
   CHRIS DIXON

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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