International Domains: The Brave New World Map Of URL Shorteners


When the revolution in Libya began, many Americans, savvy to the ways of international diplomacy, raised an important point: what would happen to The .ly in, after all, is the top-level domain (TLD) reflecting the country code for Libya. The country controls the TLD (though not all access to the domain); any .ly domain that’s purchased is money going to Libya.

It’s not as though sought the domain to express support for the country, of course. Its TLD happens to also be a suffix for a number of English adverbs. Like the nation of Tuvalu which several years ago saw a boom in purchases of its .tv extension, Libya is one of the happy nations whose country code is in demand by English-speakers. These nations (with country codes like .me, .to and .in) also benefitted from the rise of Twitter. When you’ve only got 140 characters, even the difference between .com and .co makes a difference.

The result is a diverse multinational array of shortened URLs – allowing media companies, businesses, even political candidates the opportunity to reinvent their identities. Why tweet a link from when you could use biz.ns instead?

There’s a whole broad, confusing alternate universe now, one in which Serbia and Montserrat play host to some of the world’s most important media properties. So we present – for the first time anywhere – the map of that world; the alternate Earth created by media, business, tech and political shortened URLs.

View larger map

Zoom in; pan around. Given the popularity of TLDs like .me (Montenegro) and .to (Tonga), some icons will overlap. Bonus points to those companies who sought out particularly apt countries, like Vanity Fair‘s (France!)

Our winners, though, are two organizations that paired über-short URLs with exotic locations – and perfect final products. In second place, NPR’s, from Puerto Rico. And in first: – the Romney campaign’s domain from Trinidad and Tobago.

If you have any additions you’d recommend, send ’em our way. And if any corporations want to grab a domain in Central Asia, have at it. It’s looking pretty sparse.

Have a tip we should know?

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