Santa should move grotto to Kyrgyzstan

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Forget the North Pole, Santa Kyrgyzstan is where it's at.

It seems even the world's most famous gift-giver cannot dodge the "location, location, location" consultants, who have calculated that the central Asian country is the best place for him to stable the reindeer and plan his Christmas Eve mission.

Taking into account population centres and the rotation of the Earth's axis, a Swedish consultancy firm has identified northern Kyrgyzstan or where latitude, (N) 40.40 crosses longitude, (E) 74.24 to be precise as the prime location for Santa Claus. Never mind the fact it is a predominantly Muslim country and a former anti-capitalist Soviet Republic. If he started there and travelled west against the rotation of the Earth, Santa has twice as much time to deliver presents on Christmas Eve.

"He can eliminate time-consuming detours and avoid subjecting his reindeer to undue strain," consultants at the Stockholm-based Sweco said. And Kyrgyzstan's politicians seem to be keen to rope Santa into their bid to boost tourist numbers in this mountainous and picturesque corner of central Asia. Bucking the trend of naming snowy summits after Soviet heavyweights such as Lenin and former president Boris Yeltsin, today they will be naming one peak "Mount Santa Claus". Climbers will bury a sealed capsule containing the national flag on the peak to mark the occasion.