Domain names follow a strict naming convention with a three-level hierarchy: root level, top level, and second level. Each part of the
name is separated with a period, the "dot" you hear when someone says a Web address out loud. The figure below illustrates
the domain name hierarchy.
The root-level domain is the starting point in the hierarchy.
There are two types of top-level domains: original and country. The table below lists the original domain names and the types of
organizations to which they are assigned.
Country-level domains are called country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). They correspond to a country, territory, or other geographic
location. Examples are us (United States), uk (United Kingdom), de (Germany), and jp (Japan). The list of valid domain names is
constantly being revised.
Refer to www.icann.org/en/tlds, for more information about top-level domain names.
In addition to a country-level domain, the us domain is further divided into subdomains, with one subdomain for each state and one for
Washington, D.C. The state subdomains are further divided into cities, counties, or other regional groupings. For example, clv.oh.us is
Cleveland, OH; sf.ca.us is San Francisco, CA. While most private domains don't utilize this tedious naming convention, many
government agencies do. The trend, however, is toward the simpler dot-origin name method for these government Web sites.
Second-level domain names can contain both hosts and other domains called subdomains. Host names are added to the beginning of the
domain name. For example, in http:www.asteron.com/test/index.html, the name of the host is www.asteron.com.
Subdomain names may also be added to the domain name; for example, asteron.hycurve.com.
Descriptions of the domains and their associated levels are illustrated in the MouseOver below:
In the next lesson, you will learn about the functions, components, and types of URLs.