The Milan Expo 2015 organizers on Monday assigned the first lot areas to 26 countries and corporate participants including China, the United States, Japan, Germany and France.
Three corporate participants were also allotted areas: namely China Vanke, Case New Holland and China Corporate Pavilion.
According to organizers, the remaining lot areas will be assigned within the first quarter of next year. A total of 139 participants, more than the expected 130, have signed up for the world exposition, with a record-high number of 60 countries expected to build their own pavilions.
Construction works were underway at the Expo site, which will stretch 1.1 million square meters in northwestern part of the business capital.
China's pavilion will stretch 4,590 square meters, second in size only to the Germany pavilion. The Italian public investment around the site was estimated at around 1.3 billion euros (1.7 billion U.S. dollars), with additional money coming from participants.
Organizers aim for 20 million visitors for the Milan Expo that will kick off on May 1, 2015. The theme chosen for the six-month fair is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," aimed at raising awareness regarding global hunger.
The mascot designed by Disney Italy is a whole family composed of 11 different foods such as garlic, watermelon, orange and banana.
A contest for children to suggest a name to suit every character was also launched allowing kids to interpret the values and messages of the Milan Expo.
When combined, the characters create the "face" of the Expo, a smiling Arcimboldo-like figure in a cartoon version, representing the integration of different people and cultures in the world.
During the assigning ceremony in Milan, Expo commissioner Giuseppe Sala said, "We wanted to focus on underlining the importance of the group and how to value the character traits of each individual within it. Each food will be a representative of a good behavior."
Sala added, "There is no better audience than children for deciding whether a creative proposal will go on to be successful."