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A history of world's fairs

By Miranda Leitsinger, CNN

An estimated $58 billion has been pumped into the local economy in preparations for Expo 2010 Shanghai, which runs from May 1 to October 31, with 70 million visitors expected. According to Chinese state-run media, 179 countries and 57 international organizations are confirmed to participate in the Asian nation's first time hosting the event -- which began in 1851 in London as the first world's fair.

Much like the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Shanghai expo is viewed as part of China's coming out party as a global player.

"Combining this fair with the Olympics of two years ago, I think that China hopes to be regarded more favorably in the rest of the world for its economic and social development, for its hospitality to visitors from overseas, especially, for its efforts to find a congenial place in the community of first-world nations," said John Findling, a historian and co-editor of "Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions."