LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Britain named a vast swathe of
its Antarctic territory after Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday,
capping a year of Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking the
queen's 60th year on the throne.
Newly christened "Queen Elizabeth Land," the 169,000 square
mile (437,000 sq km) slice of Antarctica is almost twice the
size of Britain and populated almost exclusively by penguins,
seals and various bird species.
British presence is maintained via three research stations
operated by the British Antarctic Survey.
"To be able to recognise the UK's commitment to Antarctica
with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great
honour," Foreign Minister William Hague said in a statement.
In 1908, Britain became the first country to claim Antarctic
territory and since then New Zealand, France, Norway, Australia,
Chile and Argentina have also lodged official claims although
most countries do not recognise them.
Hague made the announcement as the queen toured London's
Foreign Office in the last official engagement of her Diamond
Jubilee, a year marked by nationwide street parties, a
spectacular flotilla on the River Thames and a star-studded
concert outside Buckingham Palace.