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THIS tiny country rakes in millions from tech companies, without shelling out a penny

Artificial intelligence (AI) has undoubtedly become one of our time’s most talked-about and transformative technologies. Its integration into various aspects of everyday life has ignited debates and raised questions about the direction of humanity’s future.

However, amidst these uncertainties, there is one place where the AI revolution has brought undeniable prosperity: Anguilla, a quaint British overseas territory located in the Caribbean Sea, about 200 kilometers off the coast of Puerto Rico.

Anguilla’s remarkable journey to fortune begins with its association with the “.ai” domain name. Much like “.fr” for France or “.jp” for Japan, “.ai” signifies domains registered in Anguilla in cyberspace.

As the AI boom surged, companies worldwide clamored for internet addresses, indicating their leadership in the AI landscape. As a result, the domain “.ai” became extremely popular. Consider,, or Elon Musk’s — some of the most popular AI websites.

The domain is so popular among AI companies that Anguilla has been inundated with requests for “.ai” domain names. This has catapulted the island into a position of unexpected wealth.

In July 2018, the number of .ai domains stood at 48,272. In July 2023, it stood at 248,609. Just five months later, by December 2023, it had jumped to 353,928. This means about 20,000 new .ai domains were registered every month during 2018–2023.

Anguilla charges about $140 for a two-year registration for a domain. Renewal charges, as opposed to other domains in the world, are substantially higher. However, if one fails to renew their domain registration on time, the domain goes up for auction, where it can fetch over 1000% plus other charges of what it cost the original owners.

With every registration of a “.ai” domain name, Anguilla’s government makes great money, which can range from modest sums to hefty payments at auction. At its peak, these fees have collectively amounted to a staggering $32 million in a single year, roughly 10 per cent of Anguilla’s GDP.

For a territory boasting a population of around 16,000 and spanning just 35 square miles, this influx of money is a significant windfall

Anguilla’s Premier, Ellis Webster, aptly describes this financial boon as nothing short of divine providence. With a sense of gratitude, he acknowledges the fortuitous turn of events that has allowed Anguilla to thrive in the midst of global uncertainties.

But Anguilla’s newfound wealth is not merely a windfall to be squandered. The government has embarked on a mission to use these resources for the betterment of its citizens and the island’s infrastructure. From providing free healthcare for elderly citizens to investing in education and vocational training, the impact of this revenue extends far beyond monetary gain.

Moreover, the AI-driven prosperity comes at a pivotal time for Anguilla, a nation heavily reliant on tourism. The pandemic’s stringent travel restrictions and the devastation wrought by a destructive hurricane in 2017 had left the island’s economy reeling. However, the income from “.ai” domain names has served as a lifeline, injecting much-needed resilience into Anguilla’s economy and enabling it to weather the storm.

Going ahead, Anguilla remains cautiously optimistic about the sustainability of this unexpected windfall. While there are some uncertainties lingering, officials anticipate the current trend to continue, at least for a while. They expect 2024 to yield similar income levels from domain names.

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