South Sudan’s domain name dilemma

Obviously the world’s newest country is going to have some bigger problems when it becomes officially independent on Saturday, but it’s interesting to look at some of the smaller bureaucratic tasks of setting up a new country. For instance, independent South Sudan will need its own web domain:  Countries essentially have the pick of any ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
PETER MARTELL/AFP/Getty Images
PETER MARTELL/AFP/Getty Images
PETER MARTELL/AFP/Getty Images

Obviously the world's newest country is going to have some bigger problems when it becomes officially independent on Saturday, but it's interesting to look at some of the smaller bureaucratic tasks of setting up a new country. For instance, independent South Sudan will need its own web domain: 

Countries essentially have the pick of any two letters within their name, and there aren’t many remaining that begin with ‘s’. The Soviet Union has .su already (even though it no longer exists as a group of countries), which means the only obvious one that isn’t already taken is .ss.

Indeed, this is the ccTLD that South Sudan would like, but it’s unlikely to be allocated it by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The reason is that .ss has very negative connotations elsewhere. Stephen Lugga, a local official, told Reuters last week:

Obviously the world’s newest country is going to have some bigger problems when it becomes officially independent on Saturday, but it’s interesting to look at some of the smaller bureaucratic tasks of setting up a new country. For instance, independent South Sudan will need its own web domain: 

Countries essentially have the pick of any two letters within their name, and there aren’t many remaining that begin with ‘s’. The Soviet Union has .su already (even though it no longer exists as a group of countries), which means the only obvious one that isn’t already taken is .ss.

Indeed, this is the ccTLD that South Sudan would like, but it’s unlikely to be allocated it by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The reason is that .ss has very negative connotations elsewhere. Stephen Lugga, a local official, told Reuters last week:

“We want our domain name to be ‘.ss’ for ‘South Sudan’, but people are telling us ‘SS’ has an association in Europe with Nazis. We have applied for it anyway.”

South Sudan will be in a bit of a predicament if .ss is turned down. Even if we get a little creative with the country’s name, and use ‘.rs’ as in ‘Republic of South Sudan’, this is already taken by Serbia. And .sn is taken by Senegal. In fact, all feasible letter configurations from the country’s name are already taken.

Reuters reports on some of the other hurdles South Sudan needs to deal with. As of July 9, it will have a new international dialing code, a national anthem, and passports. (It seems that a new currency may take a little longer.) The South’s information minister says it’s diplomatic will move into 34 embassies around the world right off the bat. South Sudan’s U.N. membership is likely to be approved within its first week.  

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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