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Sweden to set up embassy in Second Life

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18:02 CET+01:00
Sweden is to become the first country to establish diplomatic representation in the virtual reality world of Second Life, officials said on Friday.

"We are planning to establish a Swedish embassy in Second Life primarily as an information portal for Sweden," Swedish Institute (SI) director Olle Wästberg told AFP.

The embassy would not provide passports or visas but would instruct visitors how to obtain such documents in the real world and act as a link to web-based information about the Scandinavian country.

"Second Life allows us to inform people about Sweden and broaden the opportunity for contact with Sweden easily and cheaply," Wästberg said.

The Swedish Institute is an agency of the Swedish foreign ministry tasked with informing the world about Sweden. The ministry fully backed the initiative, he added.

Second Life -- a fantasy world inhabited by computer-generated residents created by San Francisco technology company Linden Lab -- has attracted several real-world companies, including car manufacturers and sports clothing makers, which created 3-D stores.

While there were individuals in Second Life calling themselves the "Canadian Ambassador" and "The United States Embassy to Second Life", the Swedish initiative would however be the first officially sanctioned embassy in Second Life.

Wästberg hoped the embassy would open soon. In the longer term the Swedish Institute envisaged buying an island in the virtual world to create a home for Swedish companies.

On Friday, according to the Second Life website (http://secondlife.com), there were 2,938,247 inhabitants in its alternative reality, more than one third of them having signed up in the last 60 days.

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