What are Top-Level Domains (TLDs)?
Top-level domains (TLDs) are the highest level domains in the DNS or Domain Name System. The DNS resolves websites to domain names that are easier to remember than the numeric IP addresses. The domain names consist of a series of strings separated by dots and the final label in the domain name is called as “Top-level Domain”. For example: .com is the TLD in the domain name www.xyz.com. A separate registry for each TLD is managed by a responsible organization referred to as “sponsors” or “registry operators” which is under the ICANN’s or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ direction. Ex: VeriSign manages the .net and .com records and is authorized for the distribution or selling of domain names through registrars. ICANN operates IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and maintains the DNS rootzone i.e. coordinates the internet domains and IP addresses.
TLDs are classified into 4 basic types
Country-Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD)
The two letter ISO 3166 code of the countries and territories are established as their ccTLD other than some historical exceptions. Ex:
1. .br – Brazil
2. .cn – China
3. .de – Germany
4. .es – Spain
5. .fr – France
6. .gb – United Kingdom
7. .jp – Japan
8. .in – India
9. .ru – Russia
10. .us – United States
Internationalized Top-Level Domains (IDN)
Internationalized Country-Code Top-Level Domains (IDN ccTLD)
These domain names are specially encoded and are displayed in the end-user applications like web browsers using non-alphabetic characters or in the native languages.
Testing Top-Level Domains
These are set of IDN TLDs created for testing the use of IDNA in the domains in the rootzone. These domains start with “xn—“.
Infrastructure Top-Level Domains
It consists of the Address and Routing Parameter Area (ARPA) domain which was the first TLD that was used for transition to DNS from ARPANET host names and is now exclusively used for various Internet infrastructure purposes.
Generic Top-Level Domains
It is used by IANA for the DNS system and consists of three or more characters. Ex: com, org, net, info etc. These domains are restricted.
These domains directly operate under ICANN policies for global internet community.
These domains are sponsored by private organizations or agencies and establish and enforce their own rules that restrict the eligibility for using it.
Other than the four basic TLD types, there are also some other domains like:
The domains “example”, “localhost”, “test” and “invalid” are reserved to avoid any confusion.
Ex – “nato” domain that is used by NATO.
Ex – “bitnet”, “csnet”, “oz”, “uucp” domains.
TLDs are used for identifying some of the details of the associated website like the organization owning it, its geographical area of origin and the purpose of the website. Like commercial sites use “.com”/”.biz”, website used for promotion of an organization uses “.org”, website used for spreading information about a particular topic uses “.info”, a personal blog uses “.me” and a mega-network site linking all these concepts together requires “.net”.
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