The world’s financial elite are gathering in the Indonesian holiday island Bali for talks with trade spats and emerging markets crises topping the agenda.
Here are some facts and figures about the high-level gathering:
– Quakes, tsunamis, volcanoes –
Disaster-prone Indonesia is no stranger to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as the sprawling archipelago sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the world’s most seismically active region.
Some 32,000 delegates at this week’s meeting got a taste of that volatility early Thursday morning when a shallow quake off the coast of Bali and Java island killed at least three people and triggered panic.
Thousands of people staying in hotels near the meetings were jolted awake by the strong shake that sent many running outside.
It came after the city of Palu, more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from Bali, was flattened last month in a quake-tsunami disaster that has killed more than 2,000 people.
Bali’s neighboring Lombok island was also hammered by a series of quakes this summer that killed over 500, while the island’s Mt. Agung erupted earlier in the year — leading to thousands of cancelled flights and even more grumbling tourists.
Indonesian organizers have advised participants to stay in the IMF conference center in case of a quake because it’s built to withstand such tremors.
In case of a tsunami warning, attendees would be evacuated to a nearby building.
– Global gabfest –
Finance ministers and central bankers from 180 nations are among the attendees in Bali for the annual meetings of the US-based International Monetary Fund and World Bank, held every three years outside of Washington. Talks run from Tuesday through Sunday.
Local hotels are packed and taxis can be hard to come by as attendees speed by Bali’s world-famous beaches to spend a few days in air-conditioned venues in Nusa Dua, home to a string of luxury hotels — and a safe distance from the island’s booze-fueled tourist party spot Kuta.
– Tight security –
Thousands of security staff have fanned out across key venues, and are confiscating certain items as attendees pass through metal detectors, including cigarette lighters in a country with one of the world’s highest smoking rates.
At least one coconut-brandishing participant got his fruit through the scanners unharmed, however. The machine was later taken out of service for unexplained reasons.
Muslim-majority Indonesia, a huge nation of 260 million people, has been on high alert after suicide bombings this year in its second-biggest city Surabaya underlined its long battle with Islamist militancy.
About 15 minutes’ drive from the meeting venues stands a monument to more than 200 people — mostly tourists — who were killed in the 2002 Bali bombing terror attack.
The majority of Bali’s residents practice Hinduism while Christians also make up a sizeable minority group.
– Business batik –
Organizers have advised against heavy suits in the sweltering tropical heat and many participants, including foreign delegates, are donning batik shirts — a local staple for business or pleasure.
Batik uses a dyeing process that results in a dizzying array of intricate patterns in all colors of the rainbow.
Shirts can cost upwards of several hundred US dollars for top-quality fabric and original designs.