You may have seen the.nu domain name around – but do you know its origins? The extension.nu is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) representing Niue, a tiny island nation located around 2,400 kilometers northeast of New Zealand.
Niue was first settled by Polynesians arriving from Samoa, followed by people from Tonga in the 16th century.
Small in size and population, Niue consist of a land area of just 260 square kilometers and is home to around 1,800 people – one of the smallest countries in the world.
However tiny and remote the nation may be, the people of Nuie are well versed in technology and it was the first country to offer free wireless Internet services to all its inhabitants, which occurred in 2003. An estimated 84 percent of the population has Internet access at home.
Niue was also one of the first countries to offer its domain extension to international registrants, the procedures of which helped to fund the wireless Internet for its residents, as well as a program providing free computers. It is the only ccTLD model that plows resources into keeping an entire country's Internet services free – although recent reports indicate the services provided may be becoming substandard.
It has not all been smooth sailing for the.nu registry. In 1997, a US business applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and was granted the right to operate the.nu domain. When the extension became popular, the Niue government attempted to gain control of the.nu TLD, citing a number of reasons.
The.nu domain proved to be quite popular in Europe as nu in Swedish, Danish and Dutch means "now." However, in French, it can mean "naked" – and probably very few.nu domain names are registered in that country.
The country's name means something quite different different in the native dialect. Loosely based on the Niuean language, it translates to "Look, there's a coconut," according to information from the Niue Internet Users Society.
The Society, which is the official registry for the name, says in order to attract registrants to the domain when launching it to the world, they kept the extension as short as possible, simply.nu; rather than under second level domains like com.nu, or.org.nu.
While popular with hobbyists, the .nu extension is not often seen in connection with businesses outside of the countries mentioned above. For example, in Australia most local companies prefer to register .com or .com domains as their primary name due to their level of awareness among the Australian public.