How Many Top-Level Domain Names in ICANN Are There

Published: 04 Jul, 2023

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If you have ever visited a website, you have probably noticed that it has a name that ends with a few letters after a dot, such as .com, .org, .net, etc. These letters are called top-level domains(TLDs) and they are an essential part of the Internet domain names. They help to identify and classify websites according to their purpose, origin, or characteristics.

But who decides what domain TLDs are available and how they are managed? The answer is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global organization that oversees the creation and administration of TLDs. ICANN is responsible for ensuring the security, stability, and interoperability of the domain name system (DNS), which is the system that translates domain names into numerical addresses that computers can understand.

In this article, we will answer the question of how many TLDs are there in ICANN and what are their types and characteristics. We will also explore the history, current status, and future trends of TLDs and how they affect Internet users and stakeholders.

 

Types of TLDs

According to ICANN, there are six main categories of TLDs:

  • Infrastructure TLD: This is a special TLD that is reserved for technical purposes and is not available for registration. The only example of this category is .arpa, which stands for Address and Routing Parameter Area and is used for Internet infrastructure operations.
  • Generic TLD (gTLD): This is a TLD that is open to anyone and does not have any specific restrictions or requirements. Some examples of this category are .com, .org, .net, .info, etc.
  • Generic-restricted TLD (grTLD): This is a TLD that is also open to anyone but has some limitations or conditions on its use. Some examples of this category are .biz, .name, .pro, etc.
  • Sponsored TLD (sTLD): This is a TLD that is sponsored by a specific organization or community and has specific rules or policies on its registration and use. Some examples of this category are .edu, .gov, .mil, .museum, etc.
  • Country code TLD (ccTLD): This is a two-letter TLD that represents a specific country or territory and is usually administered by a local authority. Some examples of this category are .us, .uk, .cn, .de, etc.
  • Test TLD (tTLD): This is a temporary TLD that is used for testing purposes and is not intended for public use. Some examples of this category are .test, .example, .invalid, etc.

The table below summarizes the main features of each category of TLDs:

Category

Intended use

Administrator

IDN support

DNSSEC support

Infrastructure

Technical purposes

IANA

No

Yes

Generic

General use

Various

Yes

Yes

Generic-restricted

General use with limitations

Various

Yes

Yes

Sponsored

Specific use by sponsors

Sponsors

Yes

Yes

Country code

Specific use by countries or territories

Local authorities

Yes

Varies

Test

Testing purposes

IANA

No

No

Some TLDs may belong to more than one category or have special rules or restrictions. For example:

  • .eu is a ccTLD that represents the European Union but is also considered as a regional gTLD
  • .asia is a gTLD that represents Asia but is also considered as a sponsored domain by the DotAsia Organization
  • .co is a ccTLD that represents Colombia but is also marketed as a global domain for companies and startups.

 

Read also:

How to Build Your Personal Brand with a .me Domain

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How To Use The .Is Domain To Create Catchy And Memorable Domain Names

What is .io Domain? and Why it is Popular in the IT Field

Whois TV: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Perform a Whois Lookup for .TV Domains

 

History of TLDs

The history of TLDs can be traced back to the early days of the Internet when there were only seven gTLDs created in 1984:

  • .com for commercial use
  • .org for organizational use
  • .net for network use
  • .edu for educational use
  • .gov for governmental use
  • .mil for military use
  • .int for international use

These original gTLDs were administered by the United States Department of Defense until 1998 when ICANN was established as an independent and non-profit organization to manage the domain name system.

In 2000 and 2004, ICANN introduced new gTLDs to expand and diversify the domain name space. Some of the new gTLDs were:

  • .aero for aviation industry
  • .biz for business use
  • .coop for cooperative use
  • .info for informational use
  • .museum for museums
  • .name for personal use
  • .pro for professional use
  • .travel for travel industry

In 2012, ICANN launched the new gTLD program, which allowed anyone to apply for and operate their own TLDs. This resulted in a huge increase in the number and variety of TLDs, such as:

  • .app for mobile applications
  • .blog for blogs
  • .club for clubs
  • .online for online presence
  • .shop for shopping
  • .xyz for general use

The new gTLD program also enabled the creation of internationalized domain names (IDNs) that use non-Latin scripts or characters, such as:

  • .中国 for China in Chinese
  • .рф for Russia in Russian
  • .السعودية for Saudi Arabia in Arabic

The history of TLDs also witnessed some controversies and disputes over some TLDs, such as:

  • .xxx for adult content, which faced opposition from some governments and groups.
  • .amazon for e-commerce, which was contested by the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO).
  • .africa for the African continent, which was delayed by a legal challenge from a rival applicant.

 

Current Status and Future Trends of TLDs

So, how many TLDs are there in ICANN as of now? The answer is not so simple because there are different ways to count and classify them. However, one of the official sources that provide the list and statistics of all valid TLDs is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is a department of ICANN that coordinates the global IP address allocation and DNS root zone management.

According to IANA, as of April 2021, there are 1502 TLDs in the root zone, which is the central database for the DNS. However, not all of these TLDs are active or available. Some of them are revoked, retired, or test domains. These are:

  • Revoked domains: These are TLDs that have been removed from the root zone due to various reasons, such as violation of policies, technical issues, or lack of demand. Some examples of revoked domains are .bl, .um, .gb, etc.
  • Retired domains: These are TLDs that have been phased out from the root zone due to changes in the status or name of the countries or territories they represent. Some examples of retired domains are .su, .yu, .cs, etc.
  • Test domains: These are TLDs that have been created for testing purposes and are not intended for public use. Some examples of test domains are .test, .example, .invalid, etc.

Therefore, the actual number of active and available TLDs is lower than 1502. However, this number is still impressive and shows the diversity and richness of the domain name space. Here are some examples of the most popular, recent, or interesting TLDs from different categories:

  • .com: This is the most widely used and recognized TLD in the world. It has over 150 million registrations and accounts for almost half of all TLDs. It is intended for commercial use but is open to anyone.
  • .tk: This is the most popular ccTLD in terms of registrations. It represents Tokelau, a small island territory in the Pacific Ocean. It offers free domain names to anyone and has over 30 million registrations.
  • .google: This is one of the new gTLDs that belongs to Google. It is used for various Google services and products, such as maps.google, docs.google, ai.google, etc.
  • .cat: This is one of the sTLDs that represents a specific community. It is used for websites that promote or relate to the Catalan language and culture.
  • .бг: This is one of the IDNs that uses Cyrillic script. It represents Bulgaria and is pronounced as “.bg” in Latin script.

What are some of the future trends and opportunities for TLDs? Here are some possible scenarios:

  • The expansion and diversification of the domain name space with more new gTLDs: ICANN plans to open another round of applications for new gTLDs in the future, which will allow more individuals and organizations to create and operate their own TLDs. This will increase the choice and competition in the domain name market and offer more possibilities for innovation and creativity.
  • The increasing adoption and acceptance of IDNs: IDNs enable more people to use internet domain names in their own languages and scripts, which enhances their access and participation in the Internet. IDNs also help to preserve and promote linguistic and cultural diversity online. However, IDNs still face some challenges in terms of technical compatibility, user awareness, and universal acceptance.
  • The potential benefits and challenges of using TLDs for branding, marketing, security, innovation, etc.: TLDs can be a powerful tool for building and enhancing online identity, reputation, trust, and visibility. They can also provide new opportunities for developing and delivering online services and products. However, TLDs also pose some risks and responsibilities in terms of legal, ethical, and social issues, such as intellectual property rights, privacy, cybersecurity, consumer protection, etc.

 

 

FAQs

 

How many top-level domains are there?

A1: The exact number of generic top level domain (TLDs) is not easy to determine because there are different ways to count and classify them. However, one of the official sources that provide the list and statistics of all valid TLDs is the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is a department of ICANN that coordinates the global IP address allocation and DNS root zone management.

 

According to IANA, as of April 2021, there are 1502 TLDs in the root zone, which is the central database for the DNS. However, not all of these TLDs are active or available. Some of them are revoked, retired, or test domains. Therefore, the actual number of active and available TLDs is lower than 1502.

 

What are the 10 top-level domains?

The 10 specific top level domain (TLDs) are the ones that have the most registrations or market share worldwide as of June 2023. According to a source from Shopify, the 10 most popular TLDs are:

 

- .com for commercial use

- .org for organizational use

- .ru for Russia

- .net for network use

- .de for Germany

- .uk for United Kingdom

- .br for Brazil

- .au for Australia

- .fr for France

- .jp for Japan

 

However, this ranking may change over time as new TLDs are introduced and existing ones gain or lose popularity.

 

What are the top-level domain names?

The top-level domain names (TLDs) are the last part of a domain name, such as .com or .org. They are an essential part of the Internet that help to identify and classify websites according to their purpose, origin, or characteristics. There are different types of TLDs, such as generic, country-code, infrastructure, and sponsored. The number and variety of TLDs are constantly increasing and evolving as the Internet grows and changes.

 

What are the original 7 top-level domains?

The original 7 top-level domains (TLDs) are the ones that were created in 1984 when the domain name system (DNS) was first implemented. They are:

 

- .com for commercial use

- .org for organizational use

- .net for network use

- .edu for educational use

- .gov for governmental use

- .mil for military use

- .int for international use

 

 

These original 7 TLDs are still in use today, although some of them have specific restrictions or requirements on their registration and use. 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, TLDs are an important and dynamic part of the Internet that affects the way we access and use online resources. ICANN is the global organization that manages and regulates the creation and administration of TLDs. As of now, there are 1502 TLDs in the root zone, but not all of them are active or available. TLDs can be classified into six main categories: infrastructure, generic, generic-restricted, sponsored, country code, and test. The history of TLDs shows the evolution and diversification of the domain name space over time. The future of TLDs promises more choice, competition, and innovation, but also more challenges and responsibilities.

We hope this article has answered your question of how many TLDs are there in ICANN and what are their types and characteristics. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.