February 11, 2019
Much is written about the world's biggest country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). But which are the smallest?
A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is an extension assigned to a particular country, sovereign state or territory. For example, Australia's ccTLD is .au.
A ccTLD extension's letters won't always appear to match up with a country. Such is the case with .ch, designated for Switzerland. CH stands for "Confoederatio Helvetica," which translated means "Swiss Confederation."
Currently there are 327 ccTLD's. Not all are used exclusively to indicate a site is associated with a particular country as some countries have leased out the use of their ccTLD's to various registries, or allow foreign registration for sites not associated with the country.
The largest country code Top Level Domains as at December 2018 were .cn (China - 22.7 million), .tk (Tokelau - 21.5 million), .de (Germany - 16.2 million), .uk (United Kingdom (11.9 million) and .ru (Russian Federation - 5.9 million).
Australia ranked tenth at 3.2 million (figures from Verisign's Q3 2018 Domain Name Industry Brief).
The .tk case is an interesting one given Tokelau only has a population of around 1,500. This is one of the scenarios mentioned above whereby a country has allowed their extension to be used by another registry. A .tk can be registered by anyone from anywhere - and that has created some issues in the past.
The smallest appears to be .va (State of the Vatican City) with just 1 domain registered. Then there's .mh (Marshall Islands - 4), .um (United States Minor Outlying Islands - 5), .er (Eritrea - 5) and .gb (United Kingdom - 90). Yes, the UK has two ccTLDs, but names can't be registered under .gb any more.
Note: the figures above are sourced from DomainNameStat and may be out of date.
Specifically in terms of .au, a very good reason for registering a .com.au if you have a business is awareness and trust. Most Australians know that .au means Australia and the .au domain space has a very good reputation. Some of this is due to stringent eligibility criteria, helping to ensure its integrity.
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