The number of Internet hosts worldwide rose 67 per cent in 1999 to surpass 72.4 million hosts by the end of the year, according to a survey carried out by the Internet Software Consortium (ISC).
The survey, released last week, showed that at the end of 1998, there were 43.2 million Internet hosts registered in the Domain Name System (DNS), a figure that rose to 56.2 million by the end of June 1999 and grew a further 28.7 per cent in the second half of the year.
The largest top-level domain is .com, with 24.8 million hosts, followed by .net with 16.8 million hosts and .edu with 6.1 million hosts.
After the US, the most used country domain is Japan's .jp with 2.6 million hosts, followed by the UK with 1.9 million hosts, Germany and Canada, each with 1.7 million hosts, and Australia with 1.1 million hosts. Figures for the US are hard to gauge, as most companies use the .com domain and not the .us country domain.
There are now 959,000 .org hosts and 778,000 .gov sites, according to the survey.
After the UK and Germany, the countries in Europe with most Internet hosts with country-specific domain names are the Netherlands (821,000), France (780,000), Italy (658,000), Finland (631,000), and Sweden (594,000).
In Asia, Taiwan has the second-highest domain name count with 597,000 hosts, followed by Korea (283,000), Singapore (148,000), Hong Kong (114,000), Mainland China (71,000) and Malaysia (59,000).
In Latin America, Brazil has the highest domain name count with 446,000 hosts, followed by Mexico with 405,000 and Argentina with 142,000.
In Africa, South Africa has 167,000 sites and is the only country on the continent with more than a few thousand hosts.
In Eastern Europe, Russia's .ru domain leads with 215,000 sites, followed by Poland (183,000), Hungary (114,000) and the Czech Republic (113,000).
Smaller countries with a high number of domain name hosts include New Zealand (271,000) and Israel (140,000).
The highest registration rate per head is in Finland, which has an estimated 12,400 .fi-registered hosts per 100,000 people, or around one host for every eight people. Next in line is Norway (9305 per 100,000), New Zealand (7765), Sweden (6760), Denmark (6480) and Australia (6123).
Enormous potential for expansion exists in countries such as China and India, with populations of more than 1 billion and host penetration rates of just 5 per 100,000 in China and 2 per 100,000 people in India.