What you should know about Davos and why the global elite hobnob there

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What you should know about Davos and why the global elite hobnob there
A view of Davos in 2020. Photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash

Thousands of people descend on Switzerland's Davos every year for the annual World Economic Forum. Here's what you need to know about the resort town and why the world's richest gather there.


Where and what is Davos?

Davos is located in the Graubünden (also known as Grisons) canton in eastern Switzerland. This area is known for its stunning Alpine scenery and as haven for winter sports. It's also the only trilingual canton of Switzerland and the only one where Romansh, Switzerland's fourth national language, has official status.

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The small town is known for its ski resort, often attracting a wealthy clientele to the slopes. And situated at 1,560 metres above sea level, it's officially the highest town in Europe.

As well as its diverse offering of sports and leisure, Davos is well known as being a meeting place for world experts, powerful business leaders, politicians and the super-rich thanks to its role as host of the World Economic Forum (WEF). 


The 2024 WEF, which runs from on January 15th to January 19th will be attended by around 2,500-3,000 people. 

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Why do the rich and powerful meet there?

It's mainly down to organisational reasons dating back to the early days. Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum and, at the age of 84, still its executive chairman, is German by birth. But he has Swiss ancestors, and knows Davos from his childhood. As a 10-year-old, he learned to ski there, Schwab has said.

In the founding phase of the Forum, Schwab was an economics professor at the Centre d'Etudes Industrielles in Geneva and was supposed to organise an event for its anniversary in 1971.

His idea was to organise an international meeting of managers, the European Management Symposium, which was the name of the World Economic Forum until 1987.

Davos was chosen as the venue because the congress centre had opened there shortly before and the town had sufficient hotel capacity.

However, Davos is also valued because of its secluded location. Moreover, the community is located in the middle of Switzerland, which is considered a neutral country.

READ ALSO: $10,000 hotel rooms (and other surprising numbers that tell the story of Davos)

Who lives there?

Davos has a permanent population of around 11,000 people nestled in the plateau between the peaks of the Alps. Those who live there are probably into sports, or at least getting fresh mountain air.

Downhill and cross-country ski areas include Jakobshorn, Pischa, Rinerhorn and Parsenn. Tourism bosses advise people to head to the slopes when the WEF is taking place because they're quieter then. 

Meanwhile, summer activities include swimming and sailing on Lake Davos, as well as hiking and mountain biking. 

There's also a scenic train ride called the Glacier Express that connects Davos to the Matterhorn.

Davos is also known for its coffee houses, theatres, concerts, cinemas and bustling nightlife. 



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