Country pavilions show world of coasts at Yeosu expo

Kirsty Taylor in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province/The Korea Herald

Yeosu, South Jeolla Province (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Although all fall under the main theme of "The Living Ocean and Coast," the international pavilions at the Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea are as diverse as the 104 participating countries themselves.

Linked by a digital canopy displaying ocean scenes on a giant overhead LED screen, the international pavilions showcase nations' oceans, coasts and the work they are doing to protect them.

Monaco, the second-smallest country in the world, is promoting its royal family's work to protect the Mediterranean Sea with the help of an endangered monk seal mascot.

Meanwhile, the world's largest island continent, Australia, aims to show how humans can live in harmony with the sea through multimedia art sculptures.

Other countries with lengthy coastlines including Indonesia, Russia and Norway are taking part to showcase their close relationships with the ocean.

Russia is presenting its history of pioneering the Northern Sea Route, while the Spanish Pavilion is also themed around exploration through oceanographic research, navigation and scientific discoveries.

The Norwegian Pavilion capitalizes on its lengthy coastline with the name "25 148 Destination Norway," the figure indicating the number of kilometers of the Norwegian coastline when all its deep fjords and many islands are taken into account.

And Sweden is making the most of its 200,000 islands - branding its pavilion "An Archipelago of Ideas" to highlight the country's innovative spirit.

But nations without coastlines are undaunted about participating. Diverse landlocked countries including Paraguay and Switzerland are all present at the Expo.

Switzerland has themed its pavilion "The Source" to tell people about the fresh water locked in its mountains. The pavilion takes visitors on a panoramic journey to the Swiss Alps to view a glacier ice core that may be as much as 14,000 years old, which was flown in from Switzerland to be featured in the event.

Olivier Roos, pavilion director of the Swiss Pavilion, said: "Switzerland's natural beauty in its water bodies is not simply a blessing, but the result of political and technical efforts to keep them clean. Through the Swiss Pavilion, we hope to witness many visitors discovering Switzerland's continuous efforts in sustaining and protecting Switzerland's authentic source of clean water with responsibility."

Similarly to Switzerland, landlocked Paraguay is presenting itself as "The Land Where Water is Born," thanks to its numerous waterways.

The city-state of Singapore aims to appeal to visitors' five senses in its exhibit entitled "Paradox-ity." The pavilion aims to show how the costal city balances growth with environmental sustainability - such as through offshore landfills that have been transformed into havens for wildlife.

Like Singapore, Thailand is also making use of colorful live performers to welcome guests to its pavilion. The Southeast Asian nation aims to become one of the five most popular pavilions at the Expo site. Under the theme of "Colors of Diversity: Capacity of Thailand," the pavilion features a 360 degree theater and a robotic mermaid telling stories of the sea.

Environmental concerns are at the heart of many exhibits, with footage of U.S. President Barack Obama promising to protect marine life playing at his country's pavilion.

Japan's hopeful pavilion promises new beginnings following the March 2011 tsunami that ravaged parts of the country, through the animated story of a young boy who lost his family to the massive waves. It emphasizes the life-giving powers of water and how rivers flowing from through forests help to nurture the sea.

While some international pavilions, including Peru, Saudi Arabia and Angola were still under construction and far from complete on the press day on May 9, organizers stressed they were working to help get all exhibits open within a few weeks of the official opening, held Friday.