If domain names ruled the world, America wouldn’t be a superpower

If domain names ruled the world, America wouldn’t be a superpower

Global superpowers aren’t determined by how widely their .domain is used, but if they were, the world would look very different.

In order to show what that might look like, Nominet has created a new world map where the scale is based on each country’s number of top-level domain registrations. That means most countries look a little misshapen – some tiny ones are huge and a few notable ones are tiny.

Credit: Nominet

The United States is significantly smaller, with China, Germany, the Netherlands and UK reigning supreme. Oh, and that weird new landmass beside Japan that owns the .tk domain.

.tk might not be a familiar domain but it has 31 million registered websites. It belongs to the Pacific island of Tokleau, which is a territory of New Zealand and has just 1,400 residents.

With more than 30 million domain registrations, you’d be forgiven for wondering why every person on the little island has over 22,300 registered Web addresses each but that isn’t actually what’s happening here.

In 2000, a man called Joost Zuurbier created the Freedom Registry, which allows anyone in any country around the world to own a .tk domain for free. Known now as FreeNom, the company distributes free domains from its HQ in the Netherlands, as well as its offices in London and Palo Alto, but not on the little island they come from.

So how does the island benefit? Well, since the domains are free, people often register and never use them. Zuurbier’s organization uses this to their advantage and places advertising on lapsed .tk pages, giving a cut of the money to the people of Tokleau.

In fact, it was estimated in 2012 that a sixth of the nation’s GDP was coming from its .tk domains.

The reason for America looking small in comparison to other countries is because it favors the use of .com, which isn’t attached to any one country and is therefore not accounted for on the map. Overall .com beats everything with 123 million registered Web addresses.

Mapping the online world [Nominet]

Read next: Over 15 years later, ISPs still struggle to make accurate broadband promises