How many top level domains are there?
The Internet currently has 1,535 top-level domains (TLDs) as of October 11, 2018. This number may change from time to time, like when new ones are delegated or one gets retired.
Top-level domains are also commonly known as domain extensions, the portion of a domain name to the right of the dot. A complete list of all the top-level domains (TLDs) on the Internet can be referenced below. Before looking at the big list, let’s get some context from the Internet’s history.
When did the Internet start?
The underlying Internet infrastructure was developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The Internet as we know it today with its domain name system was launched in 1985. The first 6 top-level domains launched are: .COM, .ORG, .NET, .EDU, .GOV, .MIL (cf. IETF RFC 920). As an aside, the term Internet itself was not formally defined until October 1995 (cf. Brief History of the Internet, Internet Society, 1997.)
The Internet is constantly developing and growing in usage, content, and domain names. The number of top-level domains have also grown over the years. For instance, 2-letter country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .US, .UK, and .IL were launched first. Since then, over 200 other ccTLDs have become part of the Internet, like .RU, .DE, .JP, and many more.
How did we get so many domain extensions?
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has coordinated the Internet domain namespace since 1998. In 2011, ICANN launched the New gTLD Program to expand the Internet namespace. Organizations and companies could apply to operate its own top-level domain. These new TLDs would benefit the global Internet community by providing people with more meaningful and memorable domain names to access Internet resources.
During the rigorous application process, 1,930 applications were submitted for creating new top-level domains in various categories, geographies, brands, and languages. Not all of the applications were approved in the evaluation process and some applications were withdrawn.
By 2017, more than 1,200 new top-level domains have been delegated to the Internet. Add that number to the existing top-level domains. That's how we have more than 1,500 TLDs today.
Note that not all top-level domains are available for public registration. Some TLDs have registration requirements (like .NYC, .BANK, and .LAW) and some TLDs are exclusive use by brands (like .GOOGLE, .MICROSOFT, and .BMW). And, would you believe there are discussions in progress that will open up another round of applications for more top-level domains to be added to the Internet? It's true.
Where can I find a list of all the TLDs on the Internet?
The authoritative list of all the top-level domains (TLDs) is maintained by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). The Root Zone Database is updated daily. The current list is at http://data.iana.org/TLD/tlds-alpha-by-domain.txt and the current list is also available via FTP at ftp://data.iana.org/TLD/tlds-alpha-by-domain.txt.
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