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United Federation of Planets

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The United Federation of Planets (UFP), usually referred to as the Federation, is a fictional interstellar federal republic in the Star Trek science fiction franchise, composed of numerous planetary sovereignties. In the UFP, the member planetary governments agreed to exist semi-autonomously under a single central authority based on the utopian principles of universal liberty, rights and equality, and to share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation and space exploration while each member world retained its own political and social structure.

United Federation of Planets
  • UFP
  • The Federation
Flag of the United Federation of Planets.svg
The flag of the United Federation of Planets
Capital(s)San Francisco, California and Paris, France, Earth, Sol System, Sector 001, Alpha Quadrant
LegislatureFederation Council
CurrencyFederation Credit

The Federation was introduced in the 1966–1969 television show Star Trek as the organization that sent the starship USS Enterprise on its mission of peaceful exploration. As the Federation has continued to explore the galaxy and expand its membership, it has been increasingly challenged by hostile alien civilizations such as the Borg and the Dominion. The survival, success, and growth of the Federation and its principles of freedom have become some of the Star Trek franchise's central themes.

The Federation was conceived as an idealized version of the United Nations. The Federation has been generally well received by critics and fans, becoming one of the most enduring storylines and symbols of the Star Trek franchise.



The first mention of the United Federation of Planets was in the 1967 episode "A Taste of Armageddon", although other vague references such as just the Federation or to the United Earth Space Probe Agency ("Tomorrow is Yesterday") were used in prior episodes.[citation needed] As part of the anti-war message he wanted the show to convey, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry intended to depict the Federation as an ideal, optimistic version of the United Nations.[citation needed] In several following episodes of the original series that were intended as allegories to the then-current Cold War tensions, the Federation took on the role resembling NATO while the Klingons represented the Soviet Union.[1] Roberto Orci, writer of the 2009 Star Trek movie, explained that the utopianism of the series has many times been a thematic foil to ongoing world events, showing that peace is possible in times where there are fears of "perpetual war".[2]

The Federation is described as an interstellar federal polity with, as of the year 2373, more than 150 member planets and thousands of colonies spread across some 8,000,000 cubic light years of the Milky Way galaxy; each successive series in the timeline bringing in more races and planets into the Federation. The Federation is described as stressing, at least nominally, the values of universal liberty, equality, justice, peace, and cooperation.[3][page needed][4] The Federation also maintains its own quasi-militaristic and scientific exploratory agency, known as Starfleet (also written as "Star Fleet" in some texts). Starfleet is seen handling many other governmental processes, often with no other agency's influence, such as border defense ("Balance of Terror", "Arena"), diplomatic envoy ("Mirror Mirror"), and has seen extensive use as a defensive military force ("Errand of Mercy", "Doomsday Machine").


The television series and films depict Earth and humanity as holding a center-stage political role within the Federation, in some ways first among equals. The legislature, the Federation Council, is located at the Presidio of San Francisco.[5] Several other bodies of the Federation have been depicted. There is an executive branch headed by a Federation President,[6] who keeps offices in the Palais de la Concorde in Paris. There is a judiciary branch as well, the highest court of which is the Federation Supreme Court.[7] The Federation's scientific, diplomatic and defensive/military arm is Starfleet, depicted as being headquartered at Fort Baker. The Federation comes into military conflict with other major powers in the galaxy such as the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union, the Borg, and the Dominion.

The United Federation of Planets has existed as part of the Star Trek universe since the first season of the original series and is the primary focus of all the Star Trek series. Several episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise follow events leading up to the creation of the Federation, with the final episode featuring the signing of the Federation Charter.

In the series Star Trek: Enterprise, Earth Minister Nathan Samuels advocated the Coalition of Planets and invited other alien species, initially the Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites, to become a part of this. The formation of the Coalition seems to have been the event that provoked the xenophobic Terra Prime incident in the episodes "Demons" and "Terra Prime". After Terra Prime leader John Frederick Paxton exploited the xenophobia on Earth, many of the aliens were unnerved and nearly abandoned the idea of a coalition. However, they were convinced by a speech from Captain Jonathan Archer to give the idea of a united organization of worlds a chance. Six years later in 2161,[8] the United Federation of Planets was organized.

The Federation was founded in 2161 with the adoption of the Charter of the United Federation of Planets (sometimes referred to informally as the "Constitution). It draws text and inspiration from the United Nations Charter and other sources. An important guiding principle—it is listed as General Order One in the list of Starfleet general orders—is the Prime Directive, which forbids any interference in the natural development of any civilization which has not yet discovered faster-than-light (or warp) travel. This is intended to prevent even well-intentioned Federation personnel from introducing changes which could destabilize or even destroy other pre-warp era cultures through interference.[9] In practice, however, consistent application of the Prime Directive tends to be a controversial issue, and the Federation does not always abide strictly by it, as when it initially approved the forced relocation of the Ba'ku from their adopted homeworld—although it was eventually determined that the Ba'ku were not a pre-warp civilization.[10] Starfleet's Omega Directive supersedes the Prime Directive allowing for any means possible to destroy the Omega particle if encountered.[11] Other aspects of the articles provide for rule of law, equality among individuals, and protection of civil and creative liberties—all of which appear to be based on principles found in contemporary Western political theory. The charter includes guarantees of civil rights, the Seventh Guarantee being analogous to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and its protection against self-incrimination.

The Federation also has its own semi-independent black operations agency, known as Section 31, analogous to the Romulan Star Empire's Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Union's Obsidian Order.

The Federation has exacting requirements for prospective member worlds that wish to join. Caste-based discrimination is forbidden,[12] and major systematic violations of sentient rights, such as the unjust peacetime imprisonment of specially modified soldiers on Angosia, are not tolerated for any petitioner.[13] Furthermore, although most member worlds have single, unified world governments, this is not required for entry, since the Federation will consider associate membership of non-unified worlds.[14] Beyond that, the Federation at large does not interfere with any member planet's internal politics and how it governs its own people, provided it abides by the rules of conduct expected of all Federation worlds.


The government of the United Federation of Planets consists of the central federal government and the local planetary governments, who share joint sovereignty. The chief of state or of government of most planets is referred to as Governor, Prime Minister, or First Minister. The central government is composed of the office of the president, the president's cabinet, the Federation Council—made up of an equal number of representatives from every member planet—and the Federation Supreme Court.


The President of the United Federation of Planets (informally, the Federation President or the President of the Federation) is the elected head of state and head of government of the United Federation of Planets and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the government, setting and coordinating foreign policy, and dealing with resource distribution issues. The Federation President is also the commander-in-chief of all Starfleet forces.

The President is supported by the Cabinet, a special committee composed of the heads of the executive departments of the Federation government as mentioned in "Extreme Measures".

The Federation President's office is located in the city of Paris, France on Earth.


The Federation Council is the legislature of the UFP. Seats on the council are filled by representatives from the various Federation member worlds. In addition to legislation, the Federation Council is the only federal entity which may declare war. It frequently passes resolutions which the federation president and his or her staff must enact and enforce.

The makeup and location of the Council is somewhat vague and open to interpretation based upon canonical evidence.

Supreme CourtEdit

The Federation Supreme Court is the highest court in the Federation, and is led by an elected Chief Justice. The court was first mentioned in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?".

History of the FederationEdit

21st centuryEdit

The film Star Trek: First Contact depicts the events surrounding the first meeting of humans with aliens. After the end of World War III on Earth, scientist Zefram Cochrane built Earth's first warp-capable vessel, the Phoenix, launched on April 5, 2063. Cochrane's warp tests of the Phoenix caught the attention of a Vulcan science ship operating just outside the Sol system. Vulcans, having not previously considered Sol or Earth worthy of their attention, established first contact with Cochrane and the inhabitants of his base in Bozeman, Montana, when landing on Earth that same day. This meeting marked the point at which Earth first joined the interstellar community, and began the road toward the founding of the United Federation of Planets.

22nd and 23rd centuriesEdit

In the year 2119, an aging Zefram Cochrane opens the Warp 5 Complex on Earth, hoping to build the fastest human starship at the time. His project would eventually yield the Enterprise NX-01, humankind's first deep-space exploration vessel. In 2150 United Earth, a planetary government, was formed, which included nearly all the nations on Earth.[citation needed]

Although no single individual was responsible for the UFP's founding, the starship Enterprise NX-01 was a major catalyst. Under the command of her captain, Jonathan Archer, the ship helped forge an alliance between the formerly belligerent Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellarite worlds, and fostered a spirit of unity and cooperation in the region which culminated in a more formal union in 2161. The UFP's immediate predecessor was the Coalition of Planets, which was strongly opposed by the xenophobic group Terra Prime.

The Federation was formed in the immediate aftermath of the Earth-Romulan War of the late 2150s, which underscored the dire need for interstellar unity to prevent the horrors of conflict. Archer signed the Federation Charter after giving a historic speech that was still being studied two centuries later. According to the database of the USS Defiant NCC-1764, originating from the 23rd century, Archer went on to become a Federation ambassador to Andoria, a Federation councillor, and the UFP president from 2184 to 2192.[15]

In about 2223 tensions began rising between the UFP and the Klingon Empire, and in 2267, after efforts by captain James Kirk and the heavy cruiser Enterprise NCC-1701 at Organia failed to broker a truce, the native energy beings the Organians imposed an enforced peace and a signed treaty which effectively ended major conflict. Over the next few decades the two interstellar powers remained in a state of cold war, with occasional minor skirmishes. In 2293, the Klingons sued for peace after the destruction of their moon Praxis, which led to the eventual signing of the Khitomer Accords (as depicted in Star Trek VI). The accords not only ended the war—they ushered in seven decades of relative peace.

During the original series era, Captain Kirk noted (in the episode "Metamorphosis") that humanity was on "a thousand planets and spreading out", a number that surely must include Earth's many offworld colonies as well as the far-flung worlds on which humans reside, and shouldn't be taken to mean the Federation had a thousand members at the time. Since many Federation members have many colonies like Earth does, the total number of planets within the Federation may be difficult to determine; still, First Contact establishes "over one hundred and fifty" planets (and, implicitly, distinct sentient races native to said planets) as being in the Federation.

Early 24th centuryEdit

In 2311, the Tomed incident saw thousands of Federation civilians and Starfleet personnel killed by Romulan forces. The unrest ended with the Treaty of Algeron, restoring the Neutral Zone and prohibiting Federation development of cloaking technology.

In 2344, the Romulan Star Empire assaulted the Klingon outpost at Narendra III. In an unexpected move, the USS Enterprise-C under captain Rachel Garrett came to the Klingons' defense; while the ship was destroyed in the skirmish, the crew's sacrifice did great honor to the Klingons, and the resultant goodwill forged the path toward a formal alliance between the one-time rivals.

Exploration and expansion in the 2340s and 2350s brought the Federation into conflict with several new powers, including the Talarians, the Sheliak, and, notably, the Cardassians.

Cardassian WarEdit

Federation contact with a race known as the Cardassians sparked an extended conflict. A representative incident was the massacre, in 2347, of Federation civilians on Setlik III. In 2370, a truce formed a demilitarized zone in which many Federation and Cardassian colonies found themselves within each other’s territory. Although an agreement was reached that provided for the eventual transfer of such colonies, the accord was fiercely opposed by a number of Federation colonists, some of whom formed a rebel movement, the Maquis, which continued resisting the Cardassians.

Mid 24th centuryEdit

In 2365 the Federation first contacted the Borg Collective, which presented an existential threat to the alliance at the Battle of Wolf 359. Era events included the Klingon civil war, first contact with the Q, the start of relations with the Ferengi, and various time-travel incidents.

From 2363 to 2371, the USS Enterprise-D served as the Federation's flagship. (The events of Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

From 2371 to 2378, the USS Voyager (NCC-74656) was lost in the Delta Quadrant after being taken in the Badlands by the Caretaker's Array. (The events of Star Trek: Voyager.)

From 2373 to 2375 (depicted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), the Federation fought the Dominion War. By far the largest conflict the Federation had ever faced, it began in alliance with the Klingons and evolved to join with the Romulans against the combined forces of the Dominion, the Cardassians, and the Breen. The F-K-R alliance, with substantial casualties on all sides, eventually triumphed—in no small part to a Cardassian switching-of-sides after officials belatedly saw how the Dominion had effectively, and bloodlessly, conquered them.

In 2379 (the events of Star Trek: Nemesis), Reman praetor Shinzon seized control of the Romulan Empire. His coup was foiled by the crew of the Enterprise-E with help from Romulan-military dissidents. The event spurred a likely thaw in UFP/RSE relations frozen by over two centuries of chill, but the warming came at a steep cost: the power vacuum left by the death of Shinzon.

Future historyEdit

Prominent in some timelines is the Temporal Cold War, waged on a number of fronts throughout time, including the 28th and 31st centuries.

By the 29th century, the Federation explores time as it once did space.[16]

Alternate timeline (2009 and 2013 films)Edit

In 2387, as shown in the Star Trek: Countdown comic series, the star Hobus neared its supernova phase in galaxy-threatening fashion, posing an end-stage threat to the Romulan Empire. On Romulus, Federation ambassador Spock created a plan to use volatile red matter to quell the nova, save billions of lives and halt the political destabilization of the Alpha and Beta quadrants—but the empire didn't act quickly enough on it, and Romulus was destroyed.

To avenge the loss of his family and his world, the Romulan captain Nero took to his augmented mining ship Narada and attacked Spock's craft as the ambassador sought to depart. (The captain blamed Spock, and the Federation in general, for the destruction of his homeworld and the death of his wife and child.) During the engagement, both ships were pulled into the Hobus nova's singularity and transported into a past altered by their very presence there. This blossomed into the alternate timeline seen in the eponymous 2009 Star Trek film, wherein the Narada, pulled further into the past than Spock, attacks the USS Kelvin with the resultant loss of its first officer, George Kirk, father of future captain James.

As portrayed in the 2013 sequel Into Darkness, the Federation in the Kelvin timeline faces a similar Klingon Empire mobilizing for war as its counterpart in prime reality.


Federation society has been portrayed as an economic utopia made possible in part by the replicator technology available to all its member worlds.[17] This technology produces consumer goods and material through recombinant subatomic arrangement of raw materials.

In the Voyager episode "Dark Frontier", Tom Paris describes replicator technology as the "new world economy" that from the late 22nd century onward would make money obsolete—a fact echoed by Jean-Luc Picard when explaining the future timeline to Cochrane-era fighter Lily Sloane in First Contact.

First mention of the Federation's obsolescence of traditional money came in The Voyage Home when Kirk, freshly arrived in 1980s San Francisco from 2286, observes that "these people still use money" and, when asked if his crew uses cash in the future, answers back that "We don't". In "The Neutral Zone", Picard explains to cryogenically-preserved people from the 20th century that 24th-century Federation economics differ, and that money as they know it is not used, or needed.

Financial transactions are invoked in passing in several instances of the episodes and films. Mentioned early in the in-universe timespan is a monetary unit called the credit, though a physical example of one never appears. In one such example, on Space Station K-7 in the original episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" set in 2267, Uhura is offered a pet tribble for 10 credits. In The Search for Spock in 2285, an earthbound McCoy tries to book transport to the Genesis planet and is warned it could be expensive, but it is never revealed how much it would cost, since he is quickly taken into custody for breach of Genesis secrecy. Genesis project creator Carol Marcus, in The Wrath of Khan, references the Federation's decision whether to fund her project or not, although in this context—since costs are not mentioned − "fund" may involve something other than credits. In Deep Space Nine's "You Are Cordially Invited...", station commander Benjamin Sisko's son Jake tells Ferengi businessman Quark that he has sold his first book. When Quark asks him how much he has earned, Sisko counters that "It's just a figure of speech." Sisko's colloquial use of "selling" here echoes similar mentions of financial-like transactions elsewhere, as when Enterprise engineer Montgomery Scott, in The Undiscovered Country, references having bought a boat—or when Kirk says he has sold his house in the film Generations.

Monetary topics abound in the Next Generation era. In the inaugural episode "Encounter at Farpoint" set in 2364, Enterprise medical officer Beverly Crusher buys a bolt of fabric and asks for it to be charged to her ship's account. Some officers are known to visit casinos, particularly near starbases, as in "Tapestry", and poker is often depicted as a favorite of Enterprise-D crewmembers, though actual money is never shown as part of the game. In Deep Space Nine's episode "Explorers", Benjamin Sisko recounts how, upon first entering Starfleet Academy and transporting back to his New Orleans home many times, he quickly spent an entire month's allotment of "transporter credits" (though these may not be a form of money). Later, in "The Changing Face of Evil", Sisko arranges for his wife's employer (the Bajorans, a non-Federation race) to give her a month's paid vacation, a fact emphasized in the episode. In Star Trek: Voyager's pilot, Tom Paris references having someone pay his bar bills.

"Credits" appear throughout Trek canon, yet are not cleanly defined. They may exist solely for financial transactions with races like the Ferengi that still use some form of currency. If so, the credit may hold its value primarily because the Federation says it does, and thereby be a kind of fiat money. In support of this view, Enterprise-D first officer Riker is seen bartering for information with Quark in the Next Generation episode "Firstborn" using vouchers won at a gambling table in Quark's bar.

Riker claims the vouchers are good for twelve bars of latinum, a Ferengi currency which he asserts can be spent "almost anywhere", while the vouchers themselves were only good in Quark's establishment. This suggests that while the Federation may not use money, currencies other than the "credit" can be given, paid out, amassed, and spent within Federation space.[18]

Altcanon referencesEdit

In altcanon sources like the original 1975 Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual and Johnson's Worlds of the Federation, as well as the Next Generation Last Unicorn and original Fasa roleplaying games, the Federation's five founding members were Earth (or Terra), Vulcan, Tellar, Andor, and Alpha Centauri (known also as Al Rijil, or by the Terran astronomical abbreviation ACen). Fandom and various altcanon works assert that founding member Alpha Centauri is home to a human race (transplanted by the Preservers from classical third-century BC Greece) known as, variously, the Centaurans, the Centaurians, or the Centauri, a perspective supported by the description of Zefram Cochrane, in the classic episode "Metamorphosis", as "Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri". Altcanon explanations hold that Cochrane was either a Centauri himself or, more likely, a resident (the novel Federation, for instance, sets his home on Alpha Centauri B II, the second planet orbiting the trinary's secondary star) of a Terran colony in the ACen system. The films have since cemented this in canonical truth, with Cochrane born on Earth but retiring to his final years on Alpha Centauri before his disappearance and presumed death.

The once-official but now altcanon 1980-to-2188 historical guide Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology posits the UFP as being incorporated at 'the first Babel Interplanetary Conference' in 2087.

Star Trek: Enterprise later portrays the Federation's actual founding in "Zero Hour" and "These Are the Voyages...", along with preparatory negotiations in "Demons" and "Terra Prime". Alpha Centauri never appears as a cofounder of the Federation, a compact initially and explicitly seen as being between only four peoples: mankind, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. The ACen colony could possibly have achieved independence between Terra Prime and These Are the Voyages..., and then helped form the wider Federation as a separate member; yet Alpha Centauri is only ever mentioned as an Earth colony on screen. In an alternate timeline in the Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense" in which the Federation is never founded, the Alpha Centauri colony is under Romulan control.

In the six related novels A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal, A Time For War, A Time For Peace, Errand of Vengeance: Seeds of Rage, and Articles of the Federation, the Federation Council occupies the floors below the UFP president's office in the Palais de la Concorde. (This may contradict elements of The Voyage Home and Voyager.)

In altcanon works such as the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual and the novel Articles of the Federation, the Federation's founding document is the Articles of Federation, in line with fan tradition. Yet in Voyager's "The Void", the founding document appears onscreen (its preamble a reworked version of the UN Charter's), with the heading "Charter of the United Federation of Planets", a founding document in accordance with canon. Charter also appears in Enterprise and in DS9's "Accession" in discussion of federation membership requirements. This episode intimates that while the timeframe for a planet's entry is ten years past the submission of its request, the Federation is willing to halve that time for Bajor, an exemption similarly seen in Insurrection. In Next Generation's "The Drumhead", Picard calls the founding document the Constitution, establishing that as an alternate designation. Novels like Articles of the Federation presume that it's known by all three names.

Various novels detail more fully the inner workings of Federation government, such as how member worlds choose their council members (it's up to each to decide how to do so) and how presidents are elected (candidates submit their names anonymously and are vetted by the Federation Council, which judges their qualifications for office; elections are by direct popular vote).


The optimistic view of the future present in the Federation has been highlighted as unique among most science fiction, showing how "civilized" the future could conceivably be.[19] Much debate has centered around how realistic is the "post-scarcity" economy of the Federation that has evolved beyond government-controlled monetary systems.[20] It has been described, along with the series as a whole, as a vehicle to explore what it means to be human, as well as exploring mankind's efforts to build a better society.[21] Other writers have noted that Star Trek's Federation has the same logistical and philosophical difficulties of other utopian economic and political schemes that make it seem unrealistic.[22]


  1. ^ Westmore, Michael (2000). Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts. New York: Pocket Books. p. 208. ISBN 0-671-04299-8.
  2. ^ Dave Itzkoff (2009-05-14). "The Two Sides of 'Star Trek'". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  3. ^ Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future (Updated and expanded ed.). New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671034757.
  4. ^ Charlie Jane Anders (2012-12-04). "The Secret History of Star Trek's Utopian Federation". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  5. ^ This is established in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and corroborated in the Star Trek: Enterprise installment "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II".
  6. ^ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  7. ^ This is referred to in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  8. ^ "The Outcast"
  9. ^ "The Circle" (Deep Space Nine)
  10. ^ Star Trek: Insurrection
  11. ^ "The Omega Directive" Star Trek: Voyager
  12. ^ Accession (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
  13. ^ The Hunted (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  14. ^ "Attached" (The Next Generation)
  15. ^ "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" (Star Trek: Enterprise)
  16. ^ "Relativity (Star Trek: Voyager)"
  17. ^ "The Economic Lessons of Star Trek's Money-Free Society". Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Saswato R. Das (2011-06-23). "Astronomical!". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  20. ^ Matthew Yglesias (2013-11-18). "The Star Trek Economy: (Mostly) Post-Scarcity (Mostly) Socialism". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  21. ^ Matthew Yglesias (2013-05-15). "I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  22. ^ Joseph Gargiulo (2015-10-17). "The utopian future of 'Star Trek' doesn't work without extreme inequality and some slavery". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-01-25.

External linksEdit