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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 December 2007, 02:39 GMT
Venezuela creates own time zone
Alarm clock
Venezuelan early risers will now get more daylight
Venezuela creates its own unique time zone on Sunday, putting the clock back half-an-hour on a permanent basis.

President Hugo Chavez says that an earlier dawn means the performance of the country will improve, as more people will wake up in daylight.

"I don't care if they call me crazy, the new time will go ahead," he said.

But critics say the move is unnecessary and the president simply wants to be in a different time zone from his arch-rival, the United States.

The new time puts Venezuela four-and-a-half hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, and out of step with all its neighbours.

The move had first been announced in August, but it has been delayed twice because international bodies and Venezuela itself were not ready to implement the change.

Science and Technology Minister Hector Nacarro praised the measure.

"I see it as a very positive thing that while there is light we can be in it," he said.

And President Chavez said earlier this year that schoolchildren would arrive for lessons with more energy as a result of the change.

"These children have to get up at five in the morning... they arrive at school dead tired. And why? Because of our time."

Odd minutes

The time change is the latest in a series of reforms implemented by President Chavez, who has already changed the country's name, coat of arms and flag.

Big Ben clock face, London
You can slice Greenwich Mean Time any number of ways

Small time differences are hardly unique, however.

Canada's Newfoundland province is half-an-hour out of step with other Atlantic provinces.

Pakistan is only half-an-hour behind India, while Nepal is a mere 15 minutes ahead of its large southern neighbour.

Western Australia and South Australia observe a 90-minute time difference across the state boundary.

However, the remote border town of Eucla and the surrounding area, home to a few hundred people, operates on its own time zone, 45 minutes ahead of Western Australia and 45 minutes behind South Australia.

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