Davos: What you need to know

davos 2016 facts

Political leaders, CEOs and celebrities are gathering in Davos this week to discuss the world's most pressing issues.

Here is what you need to know about the world's most exclusive meeting:

I hear it's really big. Oh, yes. Around 2,500 participants from more than 100 countries, including 40 heads of state, attend the gathering in Switzerland, formally known as the World Economic Forum annual meeting. This year, the theme is "Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

It takes place in the mountains. Way up. At 1,560 meters (5,120 feet) above sea level, Davos is Europe's highest town. Its population is just over 11,000 and the average temperature in January is -5°C/23°F.

Why in such a remote, cold place? Tradition. Also, it's much easier to secure a little town wedged between the mountains than a conference center in a big city -- remember, 40 heads of states are coming.

Only once was the meeting held outside of Davos: In 2002, in New York, as a gesture of solidarity after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Davos is safe. The organizers don't release specific information, but it is estimated that around 5,000 Swiss troops, police and security personnel guard the town.

Davos is pricey. The ticket is around $20,000 and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Travel can cost thousands, and a night in a medium-range hotel is around $600. Add to it wining, dining, and essential accessories like snow boots, and the total bill can add up to around $40,000.

Davos is green. The town's CO2 levels fall on average up to 30% during the annual meeting, thanks to controls on vehicle emissions and the use of electric transport.

Besides the skiing, what's it all about? Meetings. Hundreds of them. With major companies, countries and media represented, there is hardly a better opportunity to schmooze and make deals. But the forum is not about big public announcements. Meetings are informal and take place behind closed doors.

Who is coming this year? Nearly everyone who matters in the world of business. Bill Gates will be there, as will Mary Barra, Satya Nadella, Jack Ma, Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg and dozens of other CEOs.

The IMF chief Christine Lagarde will be in Davos, with ECB President Mario Draghi and the governors of 10 national central banks.

The U.S. will be represented by Joe Biden and John Kerry. Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General, is also coming, as is Penny Pritzker, the Secretary of Commerce.

The King and Queen of Jordan will be there, as will Bono, Leonardo DiCaprio, Yao Chen and will.i.am.

They'll all be closely followed by around 250 journalists, including a posse from CNN.

And the no-shows? Neither Barack Obama nor Vladimir Putin are coming to Switzerland. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also sitting it out this year.

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