.de is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the Federal Republic of Germany. DENIC (the Network Information Centre responsible for .de domains) does not require specific second-level domains, and there are no official ccSLDs under .de ccTLD, as it is the case with the .uk domain range which until 2014 required .co.uk domain for example.
|Introduced||5 November 1986|
|TLD type||Country code top-level domain|
|Intended use||Entities connected with Germany|
|Actual use||Overwhelmingly popular in Germany and gets some use overseas, also used for domain hacks (e.g. alongsi.de)|
|Registered domains||17,044,008 (6 September 2021)|
|Structure||May register at second level|
.de is currently the second most popular ccTLD in terms of number of registrations with .cn being the first most popular ccTLD and .uk being third. It is third after .com and .cn among all TLDs. The first point of registration for .de domains was at the Department of Computer Science of the University of Dortmund. uni-dortmund.de was among the first registered .de-domains.
Previously, domain names had to be at least three letters long. There were a few two-letter domains registered before the rule was put in place: db.de (Deutsche Bahn), ix.de (the German computing magazine iX), and hq.de. A fourth domain, bb.de (Bilfinger Berger), was later deregistered (and after 2009 registered by another company). As of 23 October 2009, DENIC allowed the registration of single- and two-letter domains as well as number-only domains.
In many of the Romance languages, e.g., Spanish, French, Romanian and Portuguese, "de" expresses the genitive of a noun (like "of" in English). This is exploited in domain registrations under the German TLD for romance language webhosts that offer customized sites, like elforo.de (theforum.of), encoding the site name into the URL path, such as elforo.de/wikipedia, meaning theforum.of/Wikipedia.