Domain names are managed through several regional domain registries. When you register a domain, you assign it a generic three letter domain called a top level domain (.com, .net, etc) or a country code three letter domain (.uk, .gs, .us, .fr, etc). Each of the regional registries are responsible for maintaining the top level of the domain name structure and management, and ensure that it works with the Domain Name System.
Watch a video that explains DNS in simple terms.
Most registries delegate the ability to register a new domain to independent registrars. This is common with the generic top level domains (TLDs) and many of the country code three letter domains (ccTLDs). In these case, each registrar is required to maintain the correct information for the domain name and update the regional registry accordingly.
When you want to start a new website, you have to register your domain (the web address or URL of the website you want, like asmallorange.com) with a domain registrar. We offer domain registering as well as hosting services, so we've got you covered on all levels. See our plans here!
See also All About Domain Registration