The Internet is the catch-all word used to describe the massive world-wide network of computers. The word "internet" literally means "network of networks". In itself, the Internet is comprised of thousands of smaller regional networks scattered throughout the globe. On any given day it connects roughly 20 million users in over 50 countries. The World-Wide Web is mostly used on the Internet; they do not mean the same thing. The Web refers to a body of information - an abstract space of knowledge, while the Internet refers to the physical side of the global network, a giant mass of cables and computers.
Figure 2. The countries in black have Internet connectivity. The number of people with Internet access in these countries varies widely, however. Countries in white may have access to email, local isolated networks, or no connectivity at all. Statistics available by FTP from
Nobody "owns" the Internet - although there are companies that help manage different parts of the networks that tie everything together, there is no single governing body that controls what happens on the Internet. The networks within different countries are funded and managed locally according to local policies.
Having access to the Internet usually means that one has access to a number of basic services: electronic mail, interactive conferences, access to information resources, network news, and the ability to transfer files.
The World-Wide Web uses the Internet to transmit hypermedia documents between computer users internationally. Much in the same way, nobody "owns" the World-Wide Web. People are responsible for the documents they author and make available publicly on the Web. Via the Internet, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are making information available from their homes, schools, and workplaces.
It's possible to use World-Wide Web software without having to use the Internet. But Internet access is necessary in order to make full use of and participate in the World-Wide Web. To get more information on the Internet, how to obtain Internet access, and how to use the Internet, see the section "How can I get more information?".