Country code top-level domain

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The Countries, their Codes, and the Top Level Domain[edit]

Graphical representation of the amount of registered ccTLDs

ccTLD stands for country code top–level domain. The top–level domains (TLD) are installed in the root zone of the name space. It is the last part of the domain name, the dot and the ASCII characters after that. For example: in the domain name pzwart.wdka.nl, .nl is the TLD, and also in this case, it is a ccTLD as .nl is the country code for The Netherlands. In this article all the ccTLDs will be marked in yellow, Management of most top–domains is organised by the ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, this organisation is in charge of maintaining the DNS root zone. There are many kinds of TLDs, for example gTLDs which stand for generic top–level domains some examples including:.biz, .com, .info, .org and more. Then there are sponsored top–level domains (sTLD) that are proposed and sponsored by private agencies, restricting the eligibility of the TLD. For example .aero, .asia, .mil, .gov, .travel. In 2010 the IANA (The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) began implementing internationalized country code TLDs, meaning that language-native characters can now also be used. However this media object is about the ccTLD's and we will focus on that.

The List & North Korea[edit]

The list of TLD's is very long, and via the website of IANA (The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) we can take a look at it's Root Zone Database. (http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db) This list represents all the TLD's and the organisation's sponsoring the ccTLDs. For example we see that the ccTLD for Finland (.fi) is regulated by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, and the ccTLD for North Korea (.kp) by the Star Joint Venture Company. Something interesting came up while researching about this company and this quote will explain.

"There is one ISP providing Internet connection in North Korea: Star Joint Venture Co., a joint-venture between the North Korean government's Post and Telecommunications Corporation and Thailand-based Loxley Pacific. Star JV took control of North Korea's Internet address allocation on December 21, 2009.Prior to Star JV, Internet access was only available via a satellite link to Germany, or for some government uses through direct connections with China Netcom." (http://goo.gl/xUsoX)

Whilst trying to find out more about Star JV, all I stumbled upon were some written articles and an outdated picture of the registration website. As an individual in North Korea, it is impossible to register for a .kp domain name.

The lost registration page

As of 2012 there remain relatively few websites in the .kp domain. As internet access within North Korea is very limited, .kp websites are mostly those targeting a foreign audience. A few of the websites in this domain are:

ccTLDs: Who is where and what and why!?[edit]

Let's take a look at some more ccTLD's and the regulating companies behind them.

Cenpac.png
.nr for Nauru. (Island, closest ccTLDs: .ki for Kiribati, .tv for Tuvalu, .ws for Samoa and .fj for Fiji).
Nauru is the world's smallest republic. It is the second least-populated country after the Vatican city and a phosphate rock island! The company regulating Nauru's TLD is CENPAC NET, taking care of Nauru's internet since 1998. Visiting their website reveals a very outdated yet beautiful page where we can register our own .nr domain name. (http://www.cenpac.net.nr/)


Tecnisys.png
.st for São Tomé and Príncipe. (Island, nearest ccTLD: .ga for Gabon).
Officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is a Portugese speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the wester equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. It is also the smallest Portugese-speaking country. The organisation sponsoring the TLD is Tecnisys, however the only information I could find was a website that didn't work and the logo of their company. The organisation is based in Brasilia, .br for Brazil. The .st domain name is used to construct words ending in st, for example the websites ju.st and po.st and pa.st make use of this. The Washington Post uses it as an URL shortener, in this case http://wapo.st. The Economist does the same thing, under econ.st. I will write more about URL shortening later in this media object entry.


Relsoft.gif
.by for Belarus (bordered by .ru for Russia, .ua for Ukraine, .pl for Poland, .lt for Lithuania and .lv for Latvia).
Until the 20th century, the lands of modern-day Belarus belonged to several countries. Belarus long belonged to Russia after the Russian Revolution and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union it declared independence. Reliable Software Inc takes care of the domain name registrations while The Operative-analytical center of the Republic of Belarus is the sponsor. Reliable Software Inc, in short Relsoft, also seems to have created TUT.BY a yahoo like search engine for Belarusian citizens.


Dnsbelgium.png
.be for Belgium (bordered by .nl for The Netherlands, .fr for France, .lu for Luxembourg, .de for Germany).
Belgium hosts several international organisations and the EU headquarters. The first official administration of a .be domain name was done by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. In the year 2000, the control of the TLD was transferred to DNS Belgium. Dns Belgium is also the founder member of the EURid consortium, which administers the .eu TLD. The far right party Vlaams Belang wanted to create a Flemish TLD (.vl for Vlaanderen), however it was dismissed, only recognised UN member states are eligible for a two letter domain extension. Youtube uses the .be ccTLD to shorten their URLS (youtu.be)


Logodotco.gif
.co for Colombia (bordered by .ve for Venezuela, .br for Brazil, .ec for Ecuador, .pe for Peru and .pa for Panama).
Colombia is located in northwestern South America and has over 46 million inhabitants. Colombia is an emerging market and will in the coming future play a big role in the global economy. The ccTLD for Colombia is administered by .CO Internet S.A.S., and as of July 10, 2010 there are no registration restrictions on the TLD. Because of the commercial value of .co (the co abbreviation meaning company) it is widely used by organisations around the world, including Twitter (t.co), Starbucks (sbux.co) American Express (amex.co) and Aspen group (Aspen.co). As of June 2011 more than 1 million .co domains have been registered by people in over 200 countries.


Isnic.gif
.is for Iceland (Island, nearest ccTLD: .gl for Greenland).
Iceland is a Nordic European island country situated in the North Atlantic sea. The ccTLD for Iceland is derived from the first two letters of Ísland, which is the Icelandic word for Iceland. The very first .is domain was registered in 1986, by the University of Iceland. The administrator of the TLD is ISNIC, a company based in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. The Icelandic ccTLD is used for domain hacking, as 'is' is an English word. Some examples are who.is, this.is and byname.is. If you want your own .is domain name follow the instructions given by this link: bit.ly/NmqetE.


Nanic.jpg
.na for Namibia (bordered by .ao for Angola, .bw for Botswana, .za for South Africa, .zm for Zambia and .zw for Zimbabwe).
Namibia is a country in southern Africa gaining independence from South Africa after the Namibian War of Independence on 21 March 1990. The ccTLD is regulated by the Omadhina Internet Services. According to this article (http://yhoo.it/YO4qdn) Namibia is sitting on gold with their .na ccTLD.

"In the US, banks such as PNC, NA; Chase, NA; Citibank, NA, etc., use the abbreviation "NA" which stands for "National Association" to indicate that the bank is national. Similarly, Namibia's Internet country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) .NA domain names could be developed and branded as "National" to indicate "national" for anything, and can be made available for registration globally through companies commonly referred to as accredited registrars, such as GoDaddy.com, Network Solutions, and eNom. So that any company, organization, or entrepreneur can register and use a .NA domain for their online branding needs, such as "iway.na" (already in use), unam.na (already in use), and can be example; "bank.na", "money.na", "food.na", etc."

In the article it is stated that the .na ccTLD could very well help the country of Namibia to pay the expenses made for a new infrastructure, schools, social housing and more.

The 3 T's, Tuvalu, Tokelau and Tonga[edit]

Location of the 3 T's

These 3 territories in the Pacific Ocean seem to share not only their geographical location,
but all three of them also have interesting ccTLDs.


Dottv.jpg
.tv for Tuvalu (Island, closest ccTLDs: .ki for Kiribati, .na for Nauru, .ws for Samoa and .fj for Fiji).
Tuvalu is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Australia. It's population of 10,544 make it the third-least populous sovereign state in the world, after Nauru and the Vatican City. The domain is operated by dotTV, a Verisign company. The Tuvalu government owns twenty percent of the company. Because the ccTLD is so valuable for commercial purposes, the Tuvalu government leases it's Internet domain name for $50 million in royalties over a 12-year period, earning 4 million a year by providing the top-level domain to be sold by dotTV. Because Verisign is involved in the .tv branding, and it's base is in the United States, it is subject to United States law. While researching about Tuvalu an interesting contradiction came up. Although growing in size on the world wide web, in the actual physical real world Tuvalu is sinking. (http://www.thesinkingoftuvalu.com/)


Tk.gif
.tk for Tokelau (Island, closest ccTLDs: .ki for Kiribati, .tv for Tuvalu, .ws for Samoa and .ck for the Cook islands).
Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean, consisting of three tropical coral atolls. The population is an estimated 1,400. Tokelau increased it's gross domestic product by 10% through registrations of domain names under it's TLD .tk. Tokelau allows any individual to register domain names. Users and small businesses may register up to three domain names for free, this to gain publicity for it's territory. In an article (http://goo.gl/3m2s4) about the .tk domain being used by scammers and spammers it is said that:

"The report blamed Tokelau's bad reputation on a Dutch company called Dot TK, which bought the top level domain, and which hands out domain registrations for free. Users and criminals have flocked to the free .tk domain, according to the research, and now Tokelau, which has 1500 residents, is home to more than 4 million registered domains."

If we compare the .tk domain in the amount of registrations on the internet, only Germany and the United Kingdom are ahead of Tokelau. If we would map the world according to ccTLD registrations and the relative size of the countries, Tokelau would surely not be overlooked on the map anymore.


Tonic.png
.to for Tonga (Island, closest ccTLD: .ws for Samoa) Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a sovereign state and an archipelago compromising 176 islands scattered over 700,00 square kilometres of the southern Pacific Ocean. It's TLD registry is regulated by Tonic, the Tonga Network Information Center. It's TLD is very favourable for people using domain hacks, because to is a common English preposition. The 5 most popular websites with the .to TLD are pudding.to, google.to cervantes.to, got.to and swim.to. The whole list can be found here: http://goo.gl/Ikuw6. Citizens of the Canadian city Toronto use the TLD, as the abbreviation for Toronto is also T–O.

ccTLDs: a love story[edit]

On the melody of Do-Re-Mi

.do, an island, shared with Haiti

.re, it stands for Réunion.

.me, translates to Black Mountain

.ca, ce pays, c'est si bon

.fo, islands north of .uk

.sa, applied for an IDN

.tv, Tuvalu makes us pay

My hair is done on hair.do

Maria dancing in a field of ccTLDs

URL Shortening and Domain Hacking[edit]

URL Shortening is a technique used to make an URL substantially shorter in length but still directing to the required page. The shortened URL redirects to the preferred website. This is convenient for link sharing on for example Twitter or other messaging technologies that limit the amount of characters used. There are several websites on the web providing the option to shorten any URL, for example to shorten the Piet Zwart wiki URL we can fill the URL into the http://goo.gl URL shortening system and voila, now http://goo.gl/wzn7K links to our beloved wiki. Google challenged another URL shortening company, http://bit.ly, that is used by Twitter to automatically shorten URLs put in tweets. An interesting article about the rise of Google's URL shortener and the comparison between engines can be found here: http://searchengineland.com/google-url-shortener-opened-to-the-public-51964. That is quite a big URL for an entry about URL shortening isn't it? Let's make it shorter using bit.ly: http://selnd.com/az893q.

A domain hack is a domain name that combines the TLD so that the full name or title of the domain spells out the original name. for example, youtube uses the Belgium ccTLD to create the domain youtu.be. Let's take a look at the different ccTLD's used for URL shortening and Domain hacks, how they are used and examples of websites using this technique.

Collage of domain hacked URLs
  • donteat.at (Austria)
  • instagr.am (Armenia)
  • graphic.al (Albania)
  • its.me (Montenegro)
  • its.us (Unites States)
  • pep.si (Slovenia)
  • redd.it (Italy)
  • of-cour.se (Sweden)
  • go.to (Tonga)
  • blo.gs (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands)
  • youtu.be (Belgium)

"In some cases, an entire country code domain has been re-purposed in its international marketing, such as .am (Armenia), .fm (Federated States of Micronesia), .cd (Democratic Republic of the Congo), .dj (Djibouti), and .tv (Tuvalu) for sites delivering various forms of audiovisual content."

Examples of a domain hacked Piet Zwart website.

A great engine for checking what kind of domain hack you could use for your own domain is http://xona.com/domainhacks/, you can fill in any kind of URL you would like. For this example I fill in Piet Zwart and I see that the ccTLD's for Argentina, Zimbabwe,Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ireland could be used for my new website.

Typosquatting[edit]

A typosquatted webpage example of a Wikipedia typo.

Typosquatting is a technique used to mislead Internet users by using the typographical errors they make to lead them to different websites then expected. There are many ways of doing this, for example by making an URL that uses common misspelling of a certain website like

  • Instead of Walmart.com some people typed in Wallmatt.com
  • Apple.com became Appple.com
  • Youtube.com was replaced with Yuube.com
  • Airfrance.com with Arifrance.com

Another case of typo squatting is using .cm for Cameroon ccTLD because it might be a possibility people type .cm instead of .com