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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 18:11 GMT
Kyrgyz to name peak after Santa
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC News

Toy Santa Claus
The government hopes some Santa publicity will boost tourism
Kyrgyzstan is to name one of its mountains in honour of Santa Claus.

A group of Kyrgyz mountaineers will climb the appointed peak on Christmas Eve as part of an official ceremony.

The move comes after a Swedish logistics company suggested the Central Asian nation was the most logical place for Santa to deliver presents from.

Kyrgyzstan has been working to boost its tourism industry and the authorities have spotted what could be a good opportunity.

The country is arguably the most picturesque of the Central Asian republics, but with its remoteness from established tourism destinations and recent political instability, it has been struggling to attract foreign travellers.

Christmas gift deliveries

When the Swedish logistics company, Sweco, identified the mountains of northern Kyrgyzstan as the optimum place for Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, to be based, the tourism authorities decided they liked the idea.

Map of Kyrgyzstan
Sweco said that Kyrgyzstan's central location in the heart of Eurasia made it the most efficient place from where Santa could make his Christmas gift deliveries to the world's children.

About 90% of Kyrgyzstan is covered in mountains. The main range is the Tien Shan, whose highest peaks soar to 7,000m (23,000ft).

The Kyrgyz once roamed the valleys as nomads but some areas are so remote, there are still many unnamed peaks.

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