Why South Africa Uses "ZA" Instead of "SA" in Internet Domain

Instead of ".sa," South Africa uses the internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) ".za." This is because "ZA" is an abbreviation for the country's Dutch name, Zuid-Afrika. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) first approved the use of "ZA" in 1996.

Why South Africa Uses "ZA" Instead of "SA" in Internet Domain

South Africa chose "ZA" rather than "SA" for several reasons. For starters, "ZA" is a more distinct identifier. Saudi Arabia and So Tomé and Principe are among the countries that use "SA" as their ccTLD. Second, "ZA" is more consistent with other ccTLDs based on the official name of the country in another language. For example, the United Kingdom employs ".uk" instead of ".gb," which is the country's official abbreviation name in English.

The use of "ZA" has drawn some criticism. Some argue that it is perplexing and makes it difficult for people to find South African websites. The South African government, on the other hand, has defended the use of "ZA," claiming that it is a more accurate representation of the country's name.

Overall, the choice of "ZA" as South Africa's ccTLD is a personal one. Using "ZA" has both advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the decision to use "ZA" is up to the South African government.

Here are some more information about the .za domain:

  • The .za Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) manages the .za domain.
  • .co.za is the most popular second-level domain under .za.
  • There are over 1 million .za domains registered.
  • A diverse range of organizations, including businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations, use the .za domain.


The decision by South Africa to use "ZA" as its internet domain rather than the more common "SA" has deeper historical, linguistic, and cultural implications. It represents a deliberate break with apartheid associations, phonetically aligns with native languages, and symbolizes national unity and pride. Furthermore, continuity with pre-existing systems adds convenience and avoids unnecessary confusion.

The "ZA" domain has grown to be a well-known and respected part of South Africa's online presence. It exemplifies the country's resilience, diversity, and progressive spirit. 


1. Why is South Africa's country code za?

The country code for South Africa is SA. Zuid-Afrika is an abbreviation for the country's Dutch name.

2. What does za mean in a web address?

The country code for South Africa is ZA in a web address. It is used to locate websites hosted in South Africa.

3. Why is Rand called ZAR?

The Rand is abbreviated ZAR because it is the South African currency. ZAR is the ISO 4217 currency code for the South African rand.

4. What is the ZAR in Afrikaans?

Rand is the Afrikaans word for the ZAR.

5. What does za mean in cape town?

In Cape Town, the letter ZA has no specific meaning. It is simply South Africa's country code.

Here are some more details about the South African Rand and the ZA country code:

  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) assigned South Africa the country code ZA in 1970.
  • The Rand in South Africa is divided into 100 cents.
  • The South African Rand is the world's 15th most-traded currency.
  • The South African Rand is a relatively stable currency that is appealing to investors seeking a safe haven currency.

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