BISHKEK (Reuters) - Seeking a novel remedy to revive its rickety economy, the tiny ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan has declared itself the new home of Santa Claus.
Citing Swedish engineering firm that determined the ideal spot for Santa’s global toy delivery hub, officials in this predominantly Muslim country have quickly moved to capitalize on the finding.
They named a mountain peak after Santa, to join Mounts Lenin, and Yeltsin, and declared 2008 “The Year of Santa Claus”.
“Its slogan will be “Kyrgyzstan is the land of Santa Clauses”, said Kyrgyz tourism authority spokeswoman Nurkhon Tajibayeva.
In most Western countries Santa Claus, or Father Christmas , is thought to live at the North Pole or in Finland. However, if he were located in Central Asia and started westwards on his traditional Christmas Eve trips, Kyrgyz officials said he would have a more efficient delivery route.
“He can eliminate time-consuming detours and avoid subjecting his reindeer to undue strain,” engineering consultants at Stockholm-based Sweco, who used geography and demographics in their research, said in a press release.
A group of professional mountain-climbers will pitch the country’s flag at the newly renamed peak, Kyrgyzstan’s tourism authority said, while a world festival of Santas is planned for the capital’s main square.
Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Matthew Jones