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Have you heard of Tuvalu? Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, it has a population of 11,000 people and covers an area of 26 square kilometers, making it the second smallest country in the world after Nauru. It is also classified by the U
Have you heard of Tuvalu? Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, it has a population of 11,000 people and covers an area of 26 square kilometers, making it the second smallest country in the world after Nauru. It is also classified by the United Nations as one of the world's least developed countries. However, despite its small size and limited resources, Tuvalu has managed to generate substantial revenue by selling internet resources, specifically domain names.
.TV Domain Names
As is well known, country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) represent specific countries or regions (e.g., .cn for China, .us for the United States, .fr for France, etc.), usually abbreviated versions of their international English names.
Every country has its own ccTLD, and ownership and usage rights (which can also be transferred and licensed) come with it. Tuvalu is no exception, with its ccTLD being .tv (short for Tuvalu).
Back in 1995, when Tuvalu was assigned the .tv domain name, most people had little knowledge of the internet. Even the people of Tuvalu did not fully realize the potential value of this domain name.
Shortly thereafter, a U.S. company called Idealab recognized the potential of ".tv," which happens to be the same abbreviation as "television" in English and is easy to remember. They approached Tuvalu with plans to purchase the rights to use this domain name suffix.
For Tuvalu, while the national domain name was important, the opportunity to make money was not something they could afford to pass up. After all, they had previously earned revenue by redirecting adult hotlines using their country's international dialing code "688."
After intense negotiations, Tuvalu agreed to a deal, selling the authorization and usage rights for $5 million per year.
While $5 million a year might not be much for larger countries, for Tuvalu, it was a significant sum, equivalent to about one-tenth of their annual GDP.
With this newfound income, Tuvalu immediately built two new schools and paid tens of thousands of dollars in fees to join the United Nations in 2000, becoming the 189th member state.
In recent years, .tv domain names have gained even more popularity. Websites and streaming platforms like panda.tv and twitch.tv have contributed to the increasing prominence of .tv domain names, with over 500,000 such sites worldwide.
Currently, Verisign, a U.S. company, continues to manage the ownership of .tv domain names through 2020, with a validity period of 5 years. While specific profitability data for .tv domain names are not available, according to financial reports, Verisign earns billions of dollars annually by providing various domain name services.
.Me Domain Names
.Me domain names, given their association with the word "me" in English, which means "I," are widely used for personal websites.
The owner of .me domain names is a small country called Montenegro. "Me" is short for "Montenegro." The Montenegrin government recognized the commercial potential of .me and opened it for global registration in 2008.
For example, the domain name used by the food delivery service "Ele.me" originally came from Montenegro. Later, it was transferred to Verisign for operation.
.Io Domain Names
A similar situation occurred in Mauritius, but their story is intertwined with imperialism and colonialism.
The Chagos Archipelago originally belonged to the people of Mauritius. However, in 1814, the British took control of these islands and carried out a forced removal of the native population, establishing military bases. The management rights for the .io domain name also fell into the hands of the British.
With the rise of the internet, .io domain names gained popularity because "io" not only stands for input/output but also resembles the binary code of 1s and 0s. .Io domains have a strong appeal to the tech industry and are highly suitable for internet-related businesses.
In recent years, Mauritius has made several attempts to regain control of the .io domain name. However, as some foreign media put it, "Io is a place, but it's a place you can't get to." Unless you serve in the military, the only way for the rest of us to access it is through the internet.
Perhaps this is a form of digital colonialism in the age of technology, where the .io island has become a traffic-rich island.
However, apart from the mentioned countries and regions, most other top-level domain names are held by their respective nations. In many cases, country code top-level domains are not just commodities; they are considered internet resources within the sovereign jurisdiction of a country. As the people of Mauritius seek to reclaim, it's not just about domain names; it's also about the land that rightfully belongs to their nation.
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