Country code top-level domains, or ccTLDs, have been growing
exponentially since their creation in the 1970s. The right domain can be
a source of profit, but also a key indicator of the shaping of
international relations and geopolitics.
Domain and hosting specialists Fasthosts ’ 2023 State Of The Web
Report  revealed 2022’s top-level domain (TLD) registration
figures, dynamics and trends of the domain industry for the previous
year, and shed light on its growing correlation to the intricacies of
operating in a centralised global network. Here are some of the top
Navigating A Global Network
By the end of 2022  there were 350 million active domain names, and
308  ccTLDs. ccTLDs are associated with specific countries or
territories and allow for users when searching for a website to be
directed to the correct regional page. However, they are often subject
to political decisions and agreements between countries and
organisations which can at times lead to disputes around changes in
Europe – The Leading Region For TLDs
Leading the way, Germany (.de), the UK (.uk) and The Netherlands (.nl)
take the top spot demonstrating their dominance in the European domain
landscape. Their popularity can be attributed to their association with
some of Europe’s strongest economies and their recognition as reputable
domain extensions for businesses and organisations alike.
Oceania – Small-Scale Islands, Large-Scale Contenders
As expected, the larger and more established islands of Australia and
New Zealand featured in the top three largest ccTLDS however, in first
place was the sparsely inhabited island of Tokelau with 5.04 million
registrations. Over the years, there have been reports that the revenue
generated from their domain sales have seen a huge rise in their GDP,
which in 2012, had the lowest GDP output in the entire world .
Similarly, .tv (Tuvalu), .pw (Paulau), .fm (Micronesia), .to (Tonga),
and .ws (Samoa), among other islands, have also leveraged the
marketability of their domain extensions to attract registrants from
around the world who want cheap domains or have ccTLDs with specific
meanings or relevance to their businesses or projects.
In 2022, the island of Tuvalu made an estimated $10 million  from the
income of its .tv country code. Its domain sale to Twitch.tv in 2014 
earned the country a $970 million profit, which enabled them to join the
UN thanks to all the royalties produced from domain name registrations.
In 2020, Niue Island launched proceedings  to regain control of their
.nu TLD which was, in their opinion, wrongfully in the hands of the
Internet Foundation of Sweden.
The Americas – Rising Giants
The top two country codes in the Americas were .br and .co. In recent
years, Brazil has established its country code’s popularity due to the
nation’s large population, economy, and increasing access to the
internet. Colombia’s .co on the other hand, has gained global
recognition as an abbreviation for _.com_, _company, commerce, _and
The US’s .us domain name comes 4th on the list at 1.8 million
registrations, which is said to be down to the .com domain being used
more prevalently on a global scale.
Although not in the list, the Caribbean island of Anguilla has received
a spell of luck in the past few years with the rise of the popularity of
artificial intelligence, with AI’s abbreviation the same as the
island’s country code .ai .
Africa – Emerging Markets
Gabon (.ga) has emerged as a prominent player in the African domain
industry with over 7 million registered domains. Following in 2nd and
3rd place are .ml (Mali), and .cf (Central African Republic). Each
three’s success can be attributed to their accessibility and
affordability, making them a strong choice for businesses and
individuals across the continent. With that said, their country codes
have some of the highest number of distributed malware , which can
lead to questions around ethics and regulations when managing the TLDs
assimilated to developing countries where certain registries might have
less stringent registration requirements in comparison to other TLDs.
Asia / Middle East – Innovative TLDs
China (.cn) showcases its growing influence on a global scale with 8.98
million registered domains. Following closely behind are Russia (.ru)
and India (.in), nations known for their technological advancements and
growing industries, attracting businesses seeking to establish
themselves in the trade market.
With that said, at the start of 2022, the future of the .ru domain was
up for debate when domain sales were exempt from US sanctions on Russia
 in order to support activists’ and independent media’s fight
against potential government propaganda. Further emphasising the power
of governments and organisations to exert control over domain names to
enforce content regulations and censorship.
Also featured on the top 10 TLD’s are the Coco Islands and British
India Ocean Territories who both have been at the centre of controversy
in the past few years. Officials called for Australia to take over
control of the .cc TLD  after large amounts of criminal content
became associated with the extension. Whereas, the rights to the .io
domains – a popular choice for crypto firms and NFT dealers – furthered
disputes between the UK and Mauritius over the ownership of Chagos
Islands . Consequently, the exiled Chagosians on the Island of
Mauritius have never been able to access the rights to their domain or
The domain name industry operates within the intricate web of
geopolitics, where shifts in international relations can cause profound
consequences on the allocation, management, and protection of domain
names worldwide. To ensure a more harmonious digital landscape,
governments and regulatory organisations must prioritise balanced
policymaking, taking into account its impact on different nations within
the Domain Name System.