Afghanistan has launched its own national internet domain, .af, for websites and e-mail addresses.
Going online is expensive for Afghans
It marks a big technological step for a country where the net was banned under the former Taleban government.
The domain name, which is the online equivalent of an international telephone code, will be reserved for the sole use of Afghanistan-based e-mail and web surfers.
"For Afghanistan, this is like reclaiming part of our sovereignty," said Communications Minister Mohammad Masoom Stanakzai, "it is the country's flag on the internet."
The .af domain was first registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority in October 1997 by an Afghan expatriate called Abdul Razeeq.
Afghanistan is officially planting its flag in cyberspace, gaining full legal and technical control of the .af internet domain
But he later disappeared and some services were halted to the net address.
The first two sites to claim the new .af suffix are the Afghan Ministry of Communication at www.moc.gov.af and the UN Development Programme at www.undp.org.af.
The UNDP helped the Afghans set up the domain, providing legal and technical support.
"Afghanistan is officially planting its flag in cyberspace, gaining full legal and technical control of the .af internet domain," said a UNDP statement.
Under the former fundamentalist Taleban authorities, all non-governmental use of e-mail services and websites was punishable by death.
As a result, the internet remains a rarity in Afghanistan.
There are a handful of net cafes in the capital, Kabul, but the vast majority of Afghanistan's citizens are too poor to afford to go online.