West dominates Web in digitally divided Germany

A visitor works on his notebook at the "Hannover Messe" industrial trade fair in Hanover April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The digital divide that separates rich and poor nations by their unequal access to information technology also exists within Europe’s biggest economy, German industry association Bitkom said on Monday.

Western German states such as Hesse and Bavaria dominate Internet addresses ending in the German “.de” country code domain, with the country’s five former Communist eastern states coming bottom of the list.

On average, there were 138 Internet addresses registered per 1,000 inhabitants in western states, twice as many as the average of 69 per thousand in the east, said the IT, telecoms and new media association, Bitkom.

Germany was divided in 1945 following its defeat in the Second World War and reunited in 1990. Despite hundreds of billions of euros in investment in the east, Germany’s eastern states are still poorer and suffer higher unemployment.

As a whole, Germany has the world’s second-biggest Internet presence after the United States, said Bitkom, quoting figures from the German Network Information Centre (DENIC), the central registry for all domains under the top level domain “.de”.

Almost 75 million Web addresses are registered to the “.com” international domain, most from the United States, Bitkom said, followed by German “.de” addresses with about 12 million.

About 11 million are registered as “.net” international addresses and roughly the same number belong to the “.cn” Chinese top-level domain.

Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Elizabeth Fullerton