Tokelau is a name you probably would not even associate with a place, but this tiny Pacific island territory of New Zealand with an area of less than 10 square kilometer and a population of a little over 1,400 people, leads the world in terms of websites registered under its .tk domain.
In the above unique map of the world scaled to the most popular top-level and produced by UK domain registry Nominet, Tokelau’s overwhelming size just goes to show how total its dominance is. Tokelau is barely a dot in the Pacific Ocean on standard world maps, but here it becomes a huge area, dwarfing every other country on the planet, shrinking America, Canada, China and Russia into relative obscurity.
With over 31 million websites registered under its domain suffix of .tk, Tokelau’s closest competitor is the world’s most populous country China, with a relatively smidgen of 16.8 million registrations under the .cn suffix. The other three countries making up the top five country domain registrations are Germany (16 million on .de), the United Kingdom (10.6 million for .uk and .co.uk) and the Netherlands (5.6 million for .nl).
On the other end of the scale the nation with the smallest number of domain registrations is the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau (.gw) with just two registrations.
While .com is by far the most popular top-level domain (123 million registrations) it is not attached to an individual nation. When it was introduced in 1985 it was intended for use by commercial organizations, but has since been opened up for general use.
The popularity of the .tk registration can be traced back to the fact that since the year 2000, registration on the suffix has been free. Money from advertisements placed on unused sites with the .tk domain accounted for over $200,000 of the $1.2 million annual GDP of Tokelau in 2012.
More recently .ml (Mali), .cf (Central African Republic), .ga (Gabon) and .gq (Equatorial Guinea) have all opened themselves up to free registrations.