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United Federation of Planets
United Federation of Planets logo.svg

Great Seal of the United Federation of Planets

Great Seal of the United Federation of Planets
Founded: 2161 (United Earth, Vulcan, Andorian Empire, Tellar)
Location: Alpha Quadrant
Capital: Earth
Head of State: President of the United Federation of Planets
Head of Government: President of the United Federation of Planets
Legislature: Federation Council
Judiciary: Federation Supreme Court
Major Species: See Federation members
Military: Starfleet
Intelligence Service: Starfleet Intelligence
Section 31 (unofficial)
Currency: None (Federation Credit sometimes used in requisitioning)
United Federation of Planets flag.svg

The Flag of the United Federation of Planets

The Flag of the United Federation of Planets
For the mirror universe counterpart, please see Terran Empire.
Federation redirects here, for additional meanings of "Federation", please see Federation.
"A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars."

The United Federation of Planets (abbreviated as UFP and commonly referred to as the Federation) was an interstellar federal republic, composed of planetary governments that agreed to exist semi-autonomously under a single central government based on the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality, and to share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation and space exploration. (TOS: "Arena", "A Taste of Armageddon"; DS9: "Battle Lines"; VOY: "Innocence"; Star Trek: First Contact)

One of the most powerful interstellar states in known space, it encompassed 8,000 light years and at least a thousand planets. (TOS: "Metamorphosis") The total number of formal members worlds was over one hundred and fifty. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Unlike its imperial rivals, who derived power from a single species subjugating other races, (TOS: "Errand of Mercy"; Star Trek Nemesis; ENT: "United") the Federation's various member worlds joined willingly (TNG: "Attached"; DS9: "Emissary", "Rapture") and were equals in the Federation's democratic society. (DS9: "Paradise Lost"; VOY: "Author, Author") The Federation Starfleet was incorporated to maintain exploratory, scientific, diplomatic, and defense functions. (TOS: "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Journey to Babel")

In the alternate reality, Captain Christopher Pike described the Federation as a "peacekeeping and humanitarian armada." (Star Trek)

History

Main article: Federation history
Federation founding ceremony, 2161

The founding ceremony of the Federation in 2161

Founding Species of the Federation

The four founding species of the Federation (clockwise from top left): Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites

The Federation was founded in San Francisco, Earth in 2161. (TNG: "The Outcast"; ENT: "Zero Hour", "These Are the Voyages...") The seeds of the Federation were planted during the Babel Crisis of 2154, during which a temporary alliance was formed to search for a Romulan drone-ship preying on local vessels. It was this that first brought together the four species that would found the Federation: Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. (ENT: "United") After the crisis, these four species remained together, founding the precursor to the Federation, called the Coalition of Planets, a year later. Other species soon joined: the Denobulans, the Rigelians, the Coridanites, and several others. (ENT: "Demons") Over the next several years, the ties between the members of the Coalition strengthened and became more structured, until, finally, in 2161, the Coalition became the Federation. (ENT: "These Are the Voyages...")

Although the Federation's intentions were peaceful, around it were other, more belligerent powers such as the Klingon and Romulan Empires. As it expanded through the admittance of more and more worlds, it came into conflict with these powers. In the 23rd century, its main adversary was the Klingon Empire, with war briefly erupting between the two in 2267, before being halted by the Organians. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy") However, tensions eased considerably towards the end of the century, with the Khitomer Conference of 2293 being a substantial turning point. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) This conference saw the signing of the Khitomer Accords, which effectively ended hostile relations.

At the start of the 24th century, the Federation began an unprecedented period of peaceful exploration of the galaxy, free of major conflicts, as its main adversary of the previous century, the Klingon Empire, was now at peace with it. However, relations with the Romulans remained hostile, albeit at a low, 'cold war' level. There was also a series of local conflicts in the late 2340s, as the Federation came into contact with other militant races such as the Cardassians, the Talarians, the Tholians and the Tzenkethi.

In the alternate timeline created by the disappearance of the USS Enterprise-C into a temporal rift, the Federation became embroiled in a war with the Klingon Empire that lasted until at least 2366. (TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise")

Borg cube engaged at Sector 001

Starfleet forces engaging the Borg

Then, however, the period of peaceful exploration came to an abrupt end. In 2365, the Federation encountered its single worst threat in the cybernetic pseudo-race known as the Borg. One of the most powerful and destructive forces in the entire galaxy, the Borg invaded the Federation twice within less than a decade. They were unlike anything the Federation had ever encountered, and were only foiled by chance and resourcefulness. The Federation was thus schooled in the fact that, in the vast, unexplored reaches of the galaxy beyond what they knew, there were threats that they could not even imagine. (TNG: "Q Who", "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"; Star Trek: First Contact)

San Francisco attacked

The Breen hit the heart of Starfleet

Then, in 2370, contact was made with the Dominion, the predominant ruling power over much of the Gamma Quadrant. After numerous skirmishes, misfortunes suffered by the Cardassian Union allowed for their eventual incorporation into the Dominion, and the subsequent Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant. The Dominion/Cardassian forces were also joined by the reclusive but immensely powerful race known as the Breen. The ensuing war was the greatest crisis to be faced by the Federation, with the Federation forming an alliance with the Klingons and Romulans to defeat the Dominion. Although the Alliance eventually emerged victorious, many of the Federation's important member worlds, such as Betazed, Coridan, and Benzar, had been temporarily occupied before the Dominion's offensive could be turned back. Thousands of Federation Starfleet vessels and millions of lives were lost, in what turned out be, as of the late 24th century, the bloodiest conflict in Federation history. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light", et al.) The most devastating and demoralizing offensive occurred in 2375, when the Breen hit the Federation at its heart, with a surprise attack on Starfleet Headquarters on Earth. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")

However, the aftermath of the Dominion and Borg invasions allowed the Federation to establish new relations with many of its former adversaries, the Romulans in particular. In 2379, cooperation took place between the crew of a Federation Starfleet vessel, the USS Enterprise-E, and Romulan forces to defeat the Reman Praetor Shinzon, whose actions would have destroyed both Earth and the Romulan Star Empire. It was hoped that this would mark the beginning of an end to hostility between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, marking the beginnings of détente with a traditional enemy of the Federation. (Star Trek Nemesis)

In at least one version of the 26th century, the Klingon Empire and races such as the Ithenites, and Xindi, joined the Federation. In the 2550s of this timeline, the Federation proved instrumental in halting an invasion of the galaxy by a power known as the Sphere Builders. This action caused the Sphere Builders to try to stop the Federation from ever being formed by manipulating the Xindi into attempting to destroy Earth in 2153. (ENT: "Azati Prime") By the timeline's 31st century, the Federation had become embroiled in the Temporal Cold War, attempting to maintain the integrity and outcome of its subjective history. (ENT: "Storm Front", "Storm Front, Part II")

Size and Location

Paris2372

Office of the President of the United Federation of Planets

See also: Federation members and Federation colonies

The Federation was located in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. By the early 2370s, the Federation's territory was spread across 8,000 light years, with a membership of over 150 worlds and over 1,000 semi-autonomous colonies. (DS9: "Battle Lines"; VOY: "Innocence"; Star Trek: First Contact) Its major neighboring sovereignties were the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union, and the Ferengi Alliance. Other neighboring sovereignties were the Tzenkethi, the Tholian Assembly, the Breen Confederacy and the Xindi.

According to the official Star Trek website the Federation consisted of at least 120 members and 700 colonies as early as 2258.
While the term "Alpha Quadrant" has traditionally been used to refer to the region of space occupied by the Federation, background sources (starting with the Star Trek Encyclopedia) almost universally agree that the Federation had significant territories in the Beta Quadrant, with the Sol system lying at the border of both quadrants.

Government

The Federation's government was a representative republic, headquartered on Earth. (TOS: "Amok Time"; DS9: "Rapture"; VOY: "In the Flesh"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

The exact nature of the government of the Federation has never been made clear on screen. From the information available, the United Federation of Planets would appear to be a constitutional representative republic, similar to that of the United States, prior to the 1860s.
The exact division of powers between the Federation government and the governments of its member worlds is unknown, though various episodes indicate the Federation placed great value on maintaining local sovereignty over local affairs. Member worlds were left to manage their own governance in accordance with their own traditions and local laws, so long as the general requirements of membership were met, similar to how the member states of the European Union are bound together today.
However, Federation law did grant the government emergency authority to override local governance and declare martial law on a member's territory. (TNG: "Force of Nature"; DS9: "Homefront")

The Executive Branch

Federation presidential seal

Seal of the President of the United Federation of Planets

The executive branch was responsible for the day-to-day management of the Federation. The democratically-elected Federation President was the head of this branch. (DS9: "Paradise Lost"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) The Federation President served as both the head of state and head of government; as chief executive officer of the government, the President determined most of the Federation's foreign policy, managed budgetary concerns, and served as supreme commander of the Federation's military forces. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) The President's office was located in the Earth city of Paris on the European continent. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

The Federation Cabinet was a special executive committee to the President of the United Federation of Planets. (DS9: "Extreme Measures")

Executive Agencies

The Federation also maintained a number of executive agencies that assisted in the administration of its affairs:

In addition, at least one rogue agency, known as Section 31, was known to have operated in the name of the Federation. (DS9: "Inquisition")

The Legislature

Federation Council chamber, 2286

A sitting of the Federation Council

The Federation Council was the unicameral legislative body of the Federation. (TOS: "Amok Time") Composed of representatives from the various member worlds, the Federation Council held the power to create, amend, and ratify Federation law. (DS9: "Rapture"; TNG: "Force of Nature") The Federation Council also held a great deal of influence over the operations of the Federation's military service, Starfleet. It sometimes served as the judging body of specially-convened courts-martial, and on occasion issued operational orders to Starfleet. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; TNG: "The Defector") The Council also held influence over the making of Federation foreign policy. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", "For the Cause") The Council's meeting chamber was in the Earth city of San Francisco, on the west coast of the North American continent.

The Judiciary

The judiciary was the branch of government responsible for resolving legal disputes. It consisted of a hierarchy of courts, with the Federation Supreme Court at its apex. (DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume") Federation courts sometimes relied on panels of citizens known as juries. The Federation Grand Jury heard testimony as part of criminal investigations, while the Federation Special Jury tried war criminals. (DS9: "The Ascent", "Waltz") Alongside the civilian courts, Starfleet had its own system of courts martial. (TOS: "Court Martial"; TNG: "The Pegasus"; DS9: "For the Uniform", "Time's Orphan"; Star Trek: Insurrection)

Federation Law

Federation Charter

The Federation Charter, as seen aboard the USS Voyager in 2377

Main article: Federation law

The fundamental political principles and laws of the Federation derived from two important documents:

The relationship between the UFP Constitution and the Federation Charter is unclear. Both contain rights for individuals. It is possible that the Charter describes the requirements for entry of a planet into the Federation, while the Constitution describes the principles, governing structure, and citizen rights once becoming a member.

Other rights and responsibilities for citizens derived from:

Exploration and Defense

Starfleet command emblem

Starfleet emblem (24th century)

Main article: Starfleet

Starfleet was the deep-space exploratory and defensive service maintained by the United Federation of Planets. Its principal functions were the advancement of Federation knowledge about the galaxy, the advancement of Federation knowledge of science and technology, and the defense of the Federation. In addition, it also played a significant diplomatic role. As per its mandate of deep-space exploration, its personnel were frequently brought into contact with cultures and sentient species whose existences were previously unknown to the Federation. Federation Starfleet officers therefore acted as official representatives of the Federation in these cases. Also, Federation Starfleet vessels were frequently used to ferry ambassadors on diplomatic missions. (TNG: "The Last Outpost"; TOS: "Journey to Babel"; ENT: "United"; ENT: "Babel One")

The Federation has never been shown to have a standing army. Captain Picard stated that "Starfleet is not a military organization, its purpose is exploration" in TNG: "Peak Performance", despite Starfleet using military ranks and procedures and always appearing as the Federation's first line of defense.

Economy

By the founding of the Federation in the 22nd century capitalism was no longer the economic system of Earth, being replaced by the New World Economy. According to Tom Paris, it was around this time that "money went the way of the dinosaur." (VOY: "Dark Frontier")

Under the New World Economy material needs and money no longer existed and humanity had grown out of its infancy. People were no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things, effectively eliminating hunger and want and the need for possessions. The challenge and driving force then were to self-improvement, self-enrichment, and the betterment of all humanity. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, TNG: "The Neutral Zone", "The Price", "Time's Arrow, Part II", Star Trek: First Contact)

Although most items and services were provided by the Federation, some luxury items and services could still be requisitioned as late as the 23rd century using Federation credit, and private businesses from other races such as the Ferengi were sometimes permitted on Federation stations such as Deep Space 9. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

However, the Federation continued to deal with other cultures which had money-based economies. The Ferengi in particular were scornful of the Federation's disregard for currency. (TNG: "The Price")

Membership

Admittance into the Federation was either by invitation or successful petition of a world or civilization desirous of joining. In the second case, membership was granted only upon satisfaction of certain requirements. Firstly, the government of the prospective member submitted an official petition to the Federation Council, outlining its desire to join. A lengthy, thorough investigation of the prospective member's culture followed. This investigation could take several years, and was done to ascertain whether or not the culture genuinely shared the values of the Federation: values of benevolence, peaceful co-existence and co-operation, the rule of law, and equal rights and justice. (DS9: "Rapture"; TNG: "The Measure Of A Man", "Attached") For example, the discovery on the petitioning planet, Angosia III, of enhanced soldiers being unjustly and indefinitely imprisoned without treatment in times of peace was considered unacceptable in Captain Jean-Luc Picard's official evaluation of the planet for the Federation. (TNG: "The Hunted")

Even before the investigation, the prospective member had to meet certain requirements. These were as follows:

  • It had to have an "advanced level of technology." The Federation's baseline definition of this term was the capability for faster-than-light space travel. (TNG: "First Contact")
  • Its government had to have achieved stable planetary political unity, respecting the rights of the individual. (TNG: "The Hunted", "Attached")
  • No form of caste discrimination was to be practiced. (DS9: "Accession")
The latter is somewhat contradicted in TOS: "The Cloud Minders", in which Ardana is referred to as a Federation member world, however the ruling class had a strong caste discrimination against the Troglytes. It is not clear, though, that the Federation Council knew about this situation before the Enterprise's visit to the planet.
See also: List of Federation members

Reputation

Due to its size and history, the United Federation of Planets consequently gained a reputation throughout the hierarchies of neighboring species and governments.

Klingon propaganda in the 23rd century claimed that the Federation committed atrocities against its prisoners, keeping them in death camps and torturing them for their scientific and military secrets. When beamed aboard the USS Enterprise in 2268, Mara reminded her husband Kang of these claims. Captain James T. Kirk remarked that she had much to learn about the Federation. (TOS: "Day of the Dove")

In 2269, the Enterprise apprehended Lokai, a native of the planet Cheron, who was responsible for the theft of a Federation shuttlecraft from Starbase 4. Following his apprehension, and, upon his initial interrogation by Captain Kirk, Lokai stated that he had heard about the starship and the "United Fleet of Planets" to which it belonged. Kirk quickly corrected Lokai, stating the correct name of the Federation. (TOS: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield")

During the preparation for the First Battle of Deep Space 9, in 2372, Quark expressed to Garak the direness being stuck on the station, stating that "the worst part is, my only hope for salvation is the Federation." Quark went on to introduce Garak to the Earth concoction of root beer, which Quark went on to describe as being "bubbly and cloying and happy. Just like the Federation," adding, "but you know what's really frightening? If you drink enough of it, you start to like it." Garak, who disliked the taste of the "vile" beverage, added too, that it was "insidious", to which Quark added, "just like the Federation." Garak finally takes a moment to embrace the Federation, inquiring to Quark if he thought they would "be able to save us?" The defeated Quark responded, "I hope so." (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

Prior to the breakdown of relations between the Federation and Klingon Empire, which eventually led to the Klingon-Federation War, Kurn opposed the decision to break the treaty but was overruled in Klingon Council. He later stated to Worf, that the reason for his opposition was "because Gowron underestimates the Federation. He thinks they're soft, weak, but he is wrong. Sooner or later, there will be war." (DS9: "Sons of Mogh")

When Michael Eddington, a leader of the Maquis, commented to Benjamin Sisko on why the Federation was "so obsessed about the Maquis," Eddington surmised that it was "because we've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation," adding, "Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You're only sending them replicators so that one day they can take their "rightful place" on the Federation Council." Eddington finally drove his point home, stating, "you know, in some ways you're worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You're more insidious, you assimilate people and they don't even know it." (DS9: "For the Cause")

The Dominion's view of the Federation was less than positive. Following the Battle of the Omarion Nebula, which eliminated the threat of the Obsidian Order and Tal Shiar, the Changeling posing as Colonel Lovok stated that "after today the only real threats to us from the Alpha Quadrant are the Klingons and the Federation. And I doubt either of them will be a threat for much longer." (DS9: "The Die is Cast") As the Dominion cold war pressed on, Benjamin Sisko was told by Weyoun that "the Dominion has endured for over 2,000 years, and will continue to endure, until long after the Federation has crumbled into dust." (DS9: "To the Death")

Following Cardassia's joining of the Dominion, Gul Dukat offered Benjamin Sisko an opportunity to "save [his] precious Federation," by convincing them to "follow Cardassia's example" and join the Dominion as well, adding, "joining the Dominion will save billions of lives and keep the Federation from fading into the mists of history." (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")

Later, during the Dominion War, it was Weyoun's belief that for the Dominion to absorb the Federation, following their theoretical defeat, that "holding on to a prize as vast as the Federation isn't going to be easy. It's going to require an enormous number of ships, a massive occupation army and constant vigilance." Ultimately, Weyoun personally believed that "the key to holding the Federation is Earth. If there's going to be an organized resistance against us, its birthplace will be there." (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")

In 2375, Ru'afo, a Son'a who was working in conjunction with Starfleet Vice Admiral Matthew Dougherty, expressed his views of the Federation, describing it as "old," adding "in the last twenty four months, it's been challenged by every major power in the quadrant – the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion. They all smell the scent of death on the Federation." Ru'afo suggested to Dougherty that it was for that very reason why the Federation Council "embraced [the Son'a's] offer, because it will give your dear Federation new life." (Star Trek: Insurrection)

In a confrontation in 2379 between Jean-Luc Picard and his clone, Shinzon, Picard tried to sacrifice himself to save his ship and the Federation from Shinzon, but Shinzon disagreed with Picard's assessment, stating that "we will no longer bow before anyone as slaves, not the Romulans and not your mighty Federation." (Star Trek Nemesis)

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