Billionaires and heads of state have descended on a ski town in Switzerland. Here’s what’s happening in Davos, explained in 60 seconds.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with the President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020. Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS
  • The World Economic Forum in Davos is an annual gathering nicknamed for the ski town it’s held in: Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
  • The four-day conference brings together heads of state, CEOs, and other government and business leaders from around the world.
  • The forum holds lectures and panels where government and business leaders speak.
  • Because of the high-profile attendees, Davos also serves as a place for high-level networking and deal-making.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The World Economic Forum in Davos is kicking off this week.

Leaders from all over the world, in business and politics, are descending on the small ski town in Switzerland to share ideas and discuss important topics impacting society.

If you’ve never heard of the event, or you’ve heard the term “Davos” but always wondered what it meant, we’ve created a guide to help you quickly get familiar with the World Economic Forum so you can understand what the fuss is about.

Take a look.

What is Davos?

A police security guard patrols on the roof of a hotel ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

The World Economic Forum, usually referred to simply as “Davos” for the town it’s held in, is an annual gathering of government and business leaders.

The four-day conference is held by a non-profit organisation of the same name as the conference, the World Economic Forum.

Where is Davos?

A view of Davos with the Congress Centre in the early morning of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014 in Davos January 24, 2014. Ruben Sprich/REUTERS

The forum is often referred to simply as “Davos” for the small ski town it’s held in each year: Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, the highest town in Europe at 1,560 meters (5,118 feet) above sea level.

While the town functions as a normal ski village the rest of the year, during the World Economic Forum, hotel rates can rise to five times their normal rate, according to the New York Times.

Who’s attending Davos?

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech during the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020. Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

Davos is famous for its high-profile attendees, who, aside from speaking at lectures and panels, use the event for networking and deal-making.

Powerful attendees often make news during public comments in speeches and panels at the conference.

Attendees span from world leaders like President Donald Trump and prime ministers of various countries to activists like Greta Thunberg. You’ll also see CEOs from the biggest companies in the world, like Sundar Pichai from Google, Satya Nadella from Microsoft, and Tim Cook from Apple.

Embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is slated to speak on the second day of the conference, according to the forum’s agenda. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to speak on the third day of the forum.

What’s happening at Davos this year?

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg speaks during a session at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2020. Denis Balibouse/REUTERS

Davos’ main programming includes a variety of panels and lectures. This year’s theme is focused on sustainability.

The first day of the conference includes a panel with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Lectures and panels featuring CEOs and other business leaders often provide insight into companies and industries; for example, an executive at accounting firm Ernst & Young said at Davos that his firm wants to hire more tech-focused roles in the future.

If you want to follow along with all the happenings in Davos, the World Economic Forum has a full schedule, list of talks and agendas, and even a live blog you can keep an eye on.

Business Insider is attending Davos this year. Take a look at some of our stories from this year’s forum.