If you've ever used the Internet while traveling abroad, you
know that different countries have specific country code domain
names, like ".uk" for the United Kingdom, ".jp" for Japan, and
".fr" for France, replacing the .com at the end of an URL. These
are called country code top-level domains (ccTLD) and they can be
used by companies anywhere in the world, with royalties and rights
going to their countries of origin. When it comes to such domain
names, some countries are luckier than others, however. For
example, the country code domain of Libya is .ly, which has become
a popular domain name for url-shortening sites sites all over the
As unique and catchy domain names become more popular and
marketable, some countries (many of which happen to be small or
island nations), including Montenegro, Tuvalu, the Cocos Islands,
the Federated States of Micronesia, and Libya, are capitalizing on
the happy accident of receiving an interesting or economically
desirable domain name.
In 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared independence from
Serbia. That same year, it was awarded the .me country code.
Montenegro's government obviously understood the potential boon of
the .me domain, and so began an auction of it immediately. The
company Domain.me won the rights to the contract in 2008 and has
operated the domain ever since. Part of the contract stipulated
that Montenegro would receive a percentage of the sale of all
domains. According to Domain.me's Head of Marketing Natasa
Djukanovic, in the first five years of the deal, Montenegro made €
13.2 million (equivalent $17.27 million USD).
Several big companies like
) use .me domain names, to shorten their URLs (fb.me, v.me, and
g.me, respectively). Moreover, the most memorable website URLs tend
to be short and catchy: companies are betting that the .me domain,
with its connotations of personalization and individuality, fit
that bill. As Djukanovic told Minyanville, ".me domains are
personal, memorable, and create an instant connection between
companies, startups, or individuals and their customers or users."
On May 16, Domain.me announced that it was releasing five premium
domain names: around.me, hire.me, fund.me, find.me, and for.me.
There is a competition going until June 15, wherein businesses and
startups can submit proposals and applications declaring why their
company and brand would be the best to bear the new domains.
Fortunate to share its name with the abbreviation of television,
the Polynesian island nation Tuvalu's country code top-level domain
is .tv. Located halfway between Australia and Hawaii, with a
population of 10,544, Tuvalu is the third-least populous sovereign
nation in the world, behind only Vatican City and Nauru. Moreover,
its physical land size is approximately 10 square miles.
This small state benefits mightily from its fortunate domain name:
In 2000, the Tuvalan government negotiated a contract with dotTV, a
subsidiary of Internet infrastructure services company
), to lease the domain name for $50 million in royalties, plus a
payment of $1 million per year. Moreover, Tuvalu owns 20% of dotTV.
In 2006, VeriSign joined forces with content and social media firm
), operator of eHow and Cracked, to promote .tv as a the top-level
domain name most preferred for Internet video content. In 2010, the
domain name and website marketplace Sedo partnered with VeriSign to
sell 115 premium .tv domain names.
Often, .tv websites offer video content for specific brands that
already have .com sites, including mlb.tv, Mercedes-benz.tv, and
mtv.tv. Additionally, the youth-oriented marketing firm Vice has
received contracts from
(INTC) to create brand-tailored .tv content stations.
A favorite with cycling clubs and retailers (
), Christian organizations (
), and even Canadian Club whiskey at one time, .cc is the country
code top-level domain for the Territory of the Cocos (Keeling)
Islands, a territory of Australia located in the Indian Ocean,
about halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.
The domain name has been operated since 1997 by eNIC, a VeriSign
subsidiary that markets .cc as "the next .com." Along with
SamsDirect Internet, eNIC has made .cc one of the most popular
alternative domain names in the US. A great deal of the domain's
success is owed to SamsDirect's partnership with Clear Channel
Communications, America's largest radio broadcaster, whereby the
.cc domain was promoted on several hundred radio stations.
The country code top-level domain of the Western Pacific island
nation the Federated States of Micronesia, .fm is popular and
economically valuable to FM radio stations and streaming audio, a
notable example being music recommending website Last.fm. The
domain is operated by dotFM, a subsidiary of San Francisco-based
multimedia and e-commerce company BRS Media Inc (the company has
another subsidiary dotAM, which operates the top-level domain of
Through dotFM, anyone can register a .fm domain for a fee, and much
of the income from sales goes to the people of Micronesia and their
The country code top-level domain of Libya, .ly is run by the
registry Nic.ly and is sponsored by the General Posts and
Telecommunication Company, a state-owned organization formed in
1984 that oversees all post mail and telecommunication in Libya.
Nic.ly operates by appointing certain registrars to offer .ly
domain names to businesses across the world. One of those
registrars, Libya Telecom & Technology, founded as a private
company in 1997 by Muhammad Gaddafi himself), pioneered the
proliferation of the .ly domain name.
Though the domain is mostly used by the public in Libya, many
URL-shortening websites use the domain name, including
. (The popular site Bit.ly changed its name and domain to Bitly.com
to avoid issues
with the Libyan government.) In addition, many of the Libyan
domains were reserved for words in English that end in ly, like
Editor's Note: Montenegro made € 13.2 million (equivalent
$17.27 million USD) in the first five years of the deal, not the
first year, as was originally published.
Follow me on Twitter: