Non-Latin Top Level Domain names grew in 2011

The number of Top Level Domains for countries on the Internet using non-Latin scripts and alphabets increased by 26 to 30 over the past year, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

This is a small drop in the large bucket of thousands of domains on the Internet, but it represents a large expansion in the use of alphabets other than Latin to identify country resources in their native languages and scripts.

The adoption of these Internationalized Domain Names has been recognized by the Homeland Security Department as a way to help avoid fragmentation of the Internet’s root zone by countries tempted to create their own independent zones by using their own alphabets.

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“Breakdown of the single root zone structure and the creation of alternate roots would have significant implications to international trade since the global free flow of electronic information would be hampered,” DHS said in a report released last year detailing the most serious risks to the Domain Name System.

ICANN launched a fast-track process for introducing internationalized country-code Top Level Domains (ccTLD) in 2009, allowing countries or territories to use scripts of their official languages to represent their names in ccTLDs.

The first of these became available for registration of second-level domains in 2010 after the internationalized ccTLDs entered the Domain Name Service root zone.

The scripts now represented in Internationalized Domain Names include Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Cyrillic, and Devanagari, with Arabic being the most commonly used.

The fast-track process recognized an immediate need for country-codes in non-Latin scripts in some countries and territories. The program is being expanded to allow Internationalized Domain Names in generic Top Level Domains as part of ICANN’s new gTLD expansion program. A three-month application window for new gTLDs opens this month.

Countries for which internationalized ccTLDs have been delegated include:

  • Algeria (Arabic)
  • China (Simplified and Traditional Chinese)
  • Egypt (Arabic)
  • Hong Kong (Simplified and Traditional Han)
  • India (in seven different scripts)
  • Jordan (Arabic)
  • Republic of Korea (Hangul)
  • Morocco (Arabic)
  • Palestinian Territory (Arabic)
  • Qatar (Arabic)
  • Russian Federation (Cyrillic)
  • Saudi Arabia (Arabic)
  • Serbia (Cyrillic)
  • Singapore (Han and Tamil)
  • Sri Lanka (Sinhala and Tamil)
  • Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic)
  • Taiwan (Simplified and Traditional Chinese)
  • Thailand (Thai)
  • Tunisia (Arabic)
  • United Arab Emirates (Arabic)

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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