A gTLD, or Generic Top Level Domain, is a category of domain names in the Domain Name System (DNS) of the Internet. These types of domains are the most common and recognizable on the network, and include extensions such as .com, .net, .org, .info, among others. These domains are generic because they are not associated with a specific geography, unlike ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains) that refer to a particular region or country, such as .es for Spain or .uk for the United Kingdom.
The first gTLDs were established in 1985 and comprised six domains: .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net and .org. These were implemented by the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and each was assigned for a specific purpose. For example, .com was designed for commercial entities, while .edu was reserved for higher education institutions.
During the early years of the Internet, the number of gTLDs was relatively limited. However, as the network grew, it became clear that more gTLDs were needed to meet demand. As a result, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) began introducing new gTLDs starting in 2000. This included domains such as .info, .biz and .name, and later expanded to include a variety of new gTLDs such as .app, .website, .shop and many others.
There are three main types of gTLDs:
These are the most common and are not controlled by any agency or organization. Any individual or entity can register a domain under these extensions. Examples include .com, .net, and .org.
These are controlled by specific agencies or organizations, and the rules for registering a domain under these extensions are more restrictive. For example, to register a .edu domain, an entity must be an accredited postsecondary educational institution in the United States.
There is only one infrastructure gTLD: .arpa. This domain is used by the IANA for technical tasks related to Internet infrastructure.