One country dropped off the map on Sunday, and two new countries were created. So does this mean we’re going to get two new country-code top-level domains?
The islands of Curacao and St. Maarten have reportedly become autonomous countries, after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, a collection of former Dutch colonies off north-east coast of Venezuela.
The reorganization sees a number of other islands join the Netherlands as municipalities, while Curacao and St. Maarten become countries in the own right, albeit still tied politically tied to the motherland.
It seems quite possible that these two islands will now get their own ccTLDs, for two reasons.
First, both states are now reportedly as autonomous as fellow former Dutch Antilles territory Aruba, if not more so. Aruba acquired this status in 1986 and had .aw delegated to it by IANA in 1996.
Second, St Maarten shares a landmass with St Martin, a former French colony. The French northern side of the island is already entitled to its own ccTLD, .mf, although the domain has never been delegated.
ICANN/IANA does not make the call on what is and isn’t considered a nation for ccTLD purposes. Rather, it defers to the International Standards Organization, and a list of strings called ISO 3166-2.
The ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency in turn defers to the UN’s Statistics Division and its “Countries or areas, codes and abbreviations” list, which can be found here.
How long a new ccTLD delegation takes can vary wildly.
Montenegro, for example, declared its independence on June 3, 2006. It was added to the ISO 3166 list on September 26 that year, applied for a ccTLD on December 24, and received its delegation of .me following an ICANN board vote on September 11, 2007.
Finland’s Aland Islands got .ax less than six months after applying in 2006. North Korea, by contrast, received .kp on the same day as Montenegro got .me, but had first applied in 2004.
IANA treats the deletion of a ccTLD much more cautiously, due to the fact that some TLDs could have many second-level registrations already.
The removal of the former Yugoslavian domain, .yu, was subject to a three-year transition process under the supervision of the new .rs registry.
The Dutch Antilles has its own ccTLD, .an, which is in use and delegated to University of The Netherlands Antilles, based in Curacao.
Will we see a gradual phasing-out of .an, in favor of two new ccTLDs?