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Matterhorn is part of "New 7 Wonders" contest

The famed Matterhorn, on the Swiss-Italian border, is one of more than 200 natural sites competing for a spot in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.

The mountain will vie with 260 other spectacular places including the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest and Loch Ness for a spot on the list, organisers of the Switzerland-based New 7 Wonders campaign said on Wednesday.

More than a billion people are expected to pare down the list, which now includes entries from 222 countries, to 77 semi-finalists.

Eighteen months ago, the non-profit organisation managing the contest named the top seven man-made wonders, including the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. It started taking suggestions for natural wonders over the internet in 2007 and has now collected 441 nominations. Votes can be cast until July 7.

A panel of experts, chaired by former Unesco head Federico Mayor, will then trim down the list to 21 finalists, in July. After that, the public will have until 2011 to vote over the internet, by telephone or text message.

The New 7 Wonders campaign is led by Swiss-born adventurer and filmmaker Bernard Weber and is funded through private donations and broadcasting rights.

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