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Marvels that can change our perception of the world


Their land area is less than 4 square miles and their total population is under 1,400; still, the three South Pacific atolls that make up New Zealand’s dependent territory of Tokelau compete with world powers like the U.S. and China—at least, when it comes to the Internet. In addition to crystal-clear waters and almost untouched natural beauty, Tokelau is home to around 25 million registered Internet domains. How did such a tiny geographic area become an Internet giant? It all comes down to two facts: Domains ending in .tk are available for free, and domains that expire are never deleted so the number just keeps on growing. In 2000 Dutch entreprene­ur Joost Zuurbier was looking for a way to provide Internet domain names for free. When he discovered Tokelau had no domains, he tried to contact someone there, but without success. Realizing that Tokelau was a New Zealand dependency, he contacted the Dutch ambassador in Wellington, who got the ball rolling. Zuurbier founded a company called Freenom, signed a licensing agreement to secure the rights to .tk, and launched commercial activity in 2006. Soon Tokelau went from having one computer for each of the three atolls to providing Internet access to everyone, and Freenom now generates 15% of the atolls’ GDP.

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