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There are a handful of tiny countries out there making millions by doing nothing at all: Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia, Armenia.
What do they have in common? They have very sought-after top level domains: .fm, .am, .tv
Tuvalu is a tiny Polynesian island located somewhere between Hawaii and Australia with only 10 sq miles of landmass and a population a little over 11,000. California.-based Verisign Inc.—the registry for suffixes like .com and .net—bought .tv from Tuvalu. Verisign pays the island nation several million dollars per year in royalties—which isn’t bad considering the country’s GDP is roughly $27 million.
Micronesia is an archipelago of thousands of small islands east of the Philippines. It became independent of the United States in 1986, and suffers chronic high unemployment, overfished waters, and high dependency on American aid. One source of income for the population of 106,000 is its domain suffix particularly popular with FM radio stations all over the world. Ironically, the Micronesian government’s website is www.fsmgov.org.
Sitting at the gate between Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Armenia has been plagued by territorial conflicts with Azerbaijan, problems of mass emigration, and an impoverished population where 30 percent of the country’s 3 million lives below the poverty line. One asset it does have is the domain .am sought after by AM radio stations. However, buyer beware. The .am suffix is the 5th most dangerous web domain out there in terms of hosting malware, says internet security agency McAfee. McAfee puts the security risk of an .am domain is 12.1 percent (2010)—which is a lot higher than 2 percent in 2009.