Tiny island territory has huge Web presence


Generic top-level domains (gLTDs) are in high demand, with .com and .org being the most popular, and with many new ones being added to the list, including .google and even .lol, the Internet is becoming more and more crowded. The application for a gLTD costs $186,000, so many website owners are turning to cheaper alternatives, one of the most popular being .tk, which is the third most popular country code top-level domain (for example, the Philippines is .ph) after Germany (.de) and the United Kingdom (.uk).

Who exactly owns the .tk domain? The tiny island territory of Tokelau, home to 0nly 1,300 people on a total land area of only four square miles. Tokelau is also the world’s smallest economy. Getting there is no easy task. The closest you can approach by plane is West Samoa, which is still 332 mi (510 km) away. From there, you board a cruise ship which anchors well off the coast of Tokelau, and paddle a canoe to shore. The .tk domain is host to almost nine million websites, which is responsible for almost one-sixth of its GDP ($1.2 million a year), and is adding a million more each month.

The man responsible for popularizing the .tk domain, Dutch national Joost Zuurbier, brought the Internet to the small island nation, which, before his arrival, had never even seen a webpage. “We had to explain to them what they had and what the Internet was in order to get things going,” Zuurbier said. An Internet connection in Tokelau costs about $2,000 a month. “They had four phone lines, and that was basically it. We brought them the connectivity, and now there are 120 computers on the island, mostly laptops, because the power goes off at 10 p.m.”