The creation of new internet domain names for Wales could put the small nation on the online map, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.
A bid for website addresses to end in “.wales” and “.cymru” is due to be officially submitted to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) later this month.
It follows a decision last year by the regulator to increase the number of internet domain name endings.
Ministers in Cardiff Bay said it could prove a fantastic opportunity for Wales.
First Minister Mr Jones said: “They will ensure Wales is at the forefront of developments on the internet, and will put a flag for us on the on-line map.
“We will be able to use the top level domain names to establish a strong online presence which truly reflects our national identity.”
The Welsh Government has already announced its backing for the Wales applications to proceed and Nominet, the registry currently responsible for managing the “.uk” domain names, will submit the applications this month.
Wales’ Business Minister Edwina Hart said the new domains had the potential to bring significant economic benefits.
“They will strengthen Wales’ global identity, promote business growth and encourage the exploitation of digital technologies across all sectors,” the Gower AM added.
“We are working with Nominet on the development of the application to ensure the domain is managed in a way that maximises the benefits to Wales.”
Nominet, which manages the .uk domain name from its head office in Oxford, said it was committed to establishing an office base in Wales to deliver the “.wales” and “.cymru” domain names – creating up to nine jobs in the process.
Nominet chief executive Lesley Cowley said: “Nominet is funding the application for both Wales domains, and as a not-for-profit organisation, is committed to investing profits back into projects that help Welsh society.
“We will run the domains on a fully-bilingual basis and we will publish our own Welsh Language Scheme in due course.”
ICANN is accepting applications for top-level domain names until April 12.
The first new domains are anticipated to go live in 2013.
Last week, S4C chief executive, Ian Jones, said: “As a broadcaster, reflecting and promoting Wales and the Welsh language is at the heart of everything we do.
“Using the domain names ‘.cymru’ and ‘.wales’ would be a natural way of communicating our identity on our website and online and digital services.
“We also realise the huge benefits a ‘.cymru’ and ‘.wales’ domain names would offer to the business sector in our country.”