United Federation of Planets

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Emblem of the Federation

The United Federation of Planets is a major political entity in the Alpha Quadrant of the Milky Way galaxy in Star Trek.


The Federation is governed by a President and the Federation Council, both of which have offices on Earth. The means by which Federation Council members attain their positions has never been clearly described; evidence suggests that they are appointed by the planetary governments of their homeworlds. The President is nominated from the Council membership,[1] but it is not clear whether the election is open to the general population of the Federation or just the Council. However, no general election has been seen or mentioned in any Star Trek series or movie.[2]

The Federation has at least one secret intelligence organization called Section 31[3]. It is not clear whether Section 31 is entirely an external intelligence and "black-ops" agency or it also functions as an internal intelligence and secret police service. It has been described as a department of Starfleet Security.


The Federation, or at least parts of it, seem to operate on a socialist or even communist economic model. Evidence includes the lack of currency in many episodes, descriptions of the Federation's non-capitalist economy base, and government monopolies that appear to control space travel, interstellar communications, and scientific research. In any event, their society is so far removed from a free market economy that many Federation citizens are out of touch with basic capitalist concepts: when 21st century humans were revived from suspended animation, Captain Picard was stumped by a financier's desire to check on his investments, and Dr. Crusher didn't understand the question when he asked to know the cost of his treatment.[4]

NOG: It's my money, Jake. If you want to bid at this auction, use your own money.
JAKE SISKO: I'm Human. I don't have any money.
NOG: It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement.
JAKE: Hey, watch it. There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.
NOG: What does that mean exactly?
JAKE: It means... it means we don't need money.
NOG: Well if you don't need money, then you certainly don't need mine.
--DS9 "In the Cards"

Cloning and genetic engineering of sapient beings appear to be illegal in the Federation, likely due to the Eugenics Wars.


The Federation consists of approximately 150 member planets spread across approximately 8,000 light-years of space.[5] It is not clear whether this figure indicates that Federation territory is roughly spherical with a diameter of 8,000 light-years or some other shape with a total volume of approximately 8,000 cubic light-years[6]. In addition to member worlds, the Federation has established numerous colonies with varying levels of autonomy.[7]

The Federation shares borders with the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and the Cardassian Union.

Major planetary members of the Federation include Earth, Vulcan, Betazed, Andor, Tellaria, and Bolia.

Threat Assessment

The Federation has technology comparable to that of the other major powers in the Alpha Quadrant. Their military readiness, however, is lacking compared to that of their neighbors. While their ships are individually powerful, often substantially more powerful than those of their neighbors,[8] they tend to be few in number, as indicated by the perpetual shortage of ships in position to respond to military emergencies.[9] Furthermore, many Starfleet officers do not regard Starfleet as a military organization (despite its control of nearly all military assets in the Federation), and Starfleet itself does not conduct routine combat exercises to keep its crews prepared for military action,[10] or at least it didn't prior to the Dominion War.


  1. DS9 "Homefront"
  2. In DS9 "Homefront", the President mentions being asked by his people to submit his name for election, but it still is not clear whether it's a general election or a vote taken in the Federation Council.
  3. DS9 "Inquisition"
  4. TNG "The Neutral Zone"
  5. Star Trek: First Contact
  6. The cube root of 8000 is 20, so Federation territory could technically be as small as a cubic volume of space 20 light-years on a side (or a sphere with a radius of less than 12.5 light-years). That does, however, seem small to contain 150 populated planets.
  7. http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/United_Federation_of_Planets#Size_and_location
  8. TNG "The Wounded"
  9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, TNG "Angel One", TNG "The Best of Both Worlds"
  10. TNG "Peak Performance"