Some of the most powerful people on the planet have begun to arrive at this year’s Davos summit.
The event is probably the biggest get-together of top chief executives, politicians and non-governmental organisation (NGO) heads in the annual calendar.
But most people would never have heard of Davos if it were not for the high-profile annual event — and some may not know it is actually just the name of the town where it is held.
Davos is a tiny town of around 10,000 residents in the mountains of Switzerland.
For nearly half a century, it has been the unlikely host of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF)—now better known as ‘Davos’ for short.
The event’s stated aim is to bring together some of the world’s most influential people to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
Its wealthy, powerful guest list has also made it a lightning rod for public anger with the status quo, and particularly the free-market system and global elite it has come to represent.
Presidents, multinational chief executives and charity leaders alike rub shoulders at its events and parties in the tranquil, alpine setting of the Alps mountain range.
Davos has been hosting the summit since the early 1970s, when politicians and business figures attended to work together in the face of global economic crisis. Leading companies were invited two years later, helping to turn the event into the giant summit it is today.
Before the 1970s Davos was in fact most popular as a ski and spa resort, which is probably no surprise when it has been called ‘the highest city in Europe’.
With dry mountain air at 1,560m above sea level, it began life in the 19th century as a sanitorium for tuberculosis sufferers before an ice rink and then ski slopes were built.
Officials at the resort, which is still a winter sports destination for most of the year, say it helped pioneer winter tourism in the Alps, first attracting well-heeled Europeans to its slopes around 150 years ago.