That’s the projection of Swedish consultancy Sweco, who says that is how fast that jolly old elf will have to travel if he’s to make it to an estimated 2.5 billion homes around the world between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
They made that determination assuming that children of all religions receive a present from Santa – and that there are 48 people per square kilometer (120 per square mile) on Earth, and 66 feet between each home.
But Sweco’s report on Santa’s most efficient route – which takes into account factors like geographic density and the fewest detours – shows that he wouldn’t be able to make his round-the-world trip from the North Pole on time (standing on the International Date Line, moving from east to west and crossing different time zones, Santa has not just 10 hours to deliver his presents (from 8 p.m., when children go to bed, until 6 a.m., when they wake up), but an extra 24 hours— 34 hours in all). Nonetheless, that leaves just 34 microseconds at each stop to slide down the chimney, drop off the presents, nibble on his cookies and milk and hop back on his sleigh. No wonder the kids never see him!
As a way of maximizing the efficiency of his travels, the engineering consultants at SWECO have come to the conclusion that Santa Claus should live in Kyrgyzstan. By starting his journey there, they say he “can eliminate time-consuming detours and avoid subjecting his reindeer to undue strain’, according to a press release. They say that Kyrgyztan is located close to the richly populated countries of China and India and a ways up on the more densely populated northern hemisphere – an ideal place to live if Santa Claus starts in eastern Asia and then continues his Christmas journey in a westerly direction. He would then be traveling against the Earth’s rotation, which would give him twice as much time to deliver gifts to all of the world’s children.
Of course, Santa’s speed is a function of those eight tiny reindeer – that must travel at a speed of 3,604 miles per second to make the trip on time. There are some, however, that say if you could find eight reindeer that could fly – and that could fly at that speed – that they would encounter such massive air resistance – – – that they, the sleigh, the packages, and the driver so “lively and quick’ would be vaporized – within 4.26 thousandths of a second!