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Top-level domains


The top-level domains (TLDs) are the highest level of domain names of the Internet. They form the DNS root zone of the hierarchical Domain Name System. Every domain name ends in a top-level or first-level domain label.

When the Domain Name System was created in the 1980s, the domain name space was divided into two main groups of domains.[1] The country code top-level domains (ccTLD) were primarily based on the two-character territory codes of ISO-3166 country abbreviations. In addition, a group of seven generic top-level domains (gTLD) was implemented which represented a set of categories of names and multi-organizations.[2] These were the domains GOV, EDU, COM, MIL, ORG, NET, and INT.

During the growth of the Internet, it became desirable to create additional generic top-level domains. As of June 2009, there are 20 generic top-level domains and 248 country code top-level domains.[3] In addtion, the ARPA domain serves technical purposes in the infrastructure of the Domain Name System.

During the 32nd International Public ICANN Meeting in Paris in 2008,[4] ICANN started a new process of TLD naming policy to take a "significant step forward on the introduction of new generic top-level domains." This program envisions the availability of many new or already proposed domains, as well a new application and implementation process.[5] Observers believed that the new rules could result in hundreds of new top-level domain to be registered.[6]

An annotated list of top-level domains in the root zone database is published at the IANA website at http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/

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