United Federation of Planets

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United Federation of Planets
UniverseStar Trek
TypeRepresentative Republic
CapitalParis, European Alliance (Federation Capital) and San Francisco Starfleet Command, Earth, Sol System, Sector 001, Alpha Quadrant
CurrencyFederation Credit

The United Federation of Planets (UFP), in the fictional universe of Star Trek, is the interstellar government that sent Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the crew of the starship Enterprise on its mission of peaceful exploration. Commonly referred to as "the Federation", it was introduced in the original Star Trek television series. 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 is an organization of numerous planetary sovereignties, and although viewers are never told about the internal workings of the government, many episodes refer to the rules and laws that the Federation imposes on the characters and their adventures.


Early in the first season of Star Trek, Captain Kirk had said the Enterprise's authority came from the United Earth Space Probe Agency.[1] Bases visited in the series were labeled "Earth Outposts".[2] In August 1966, Gene L. Coon was hired by Gene Roddenberry as a writer for Star Trek. Actor William Shatner credits Coon with injecting the concepts of Starfleet, Starfleet Command and the United Federation of Planets into the show.[3] One of the first teleplays Coon was credited with was "A Taste of Armageddon", where an ambassador on the Enterprise is referred to as a Federation official.

Eventually, with the series as allegory for the current events of the 1960s counterculture,[4] placing great emphasis on an anti-war message and depicting the United Federation of Planets, a vast interstellar alliance founded on the enlightened principles of liberty, equality, justice, progress, and peaceful co-existence, as an idealistic version of the United Nations.[5]


The optimistic view of the future present in the Federation has been highlighted as unique among most science fiction, showing how "evolved" and "civilized" the future could conceivably be.[6] Much debate has centered around how the materialist application of a post-scarcity economy in the Federation is incompatible with its own idealist ethics.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

In 2020, Screen Rant noted the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "First Contact" for exploring the United Federation of Planets and how it sometimes struggles with contact with aliens.[10]

In-universe portrayal[edit]

Like many things in Star Trek, episodes and films may reference entities or laws within the Federation, but viewers are never given a broad view of its inner workings. Many contemporary terms are assigned to the Federation, but parallels to current government bodies and their roles and responsibilities are pure speculation on the part of fans and critics.[11]

In-universe references to the Federation include:

The organization of the Federation[edit]

Sovereignties wishing to join the Federation[edit]

  • Must not employ caste-based discrimination.[18]
  • Must not have a record of violations of sentient rights.[19]
  • A single, unified government is not required for admission, but is desirable.[20]

Notable Members and Non-Members[edit]

  • The founding members of the Federation were Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, and Tellar.
  • Coridan, mentioned in TOS, DS9, and Enterprise, joined the Federation in 2268
  • Federation Presidents have included Efrosians (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) and Grazerites (DS9 episode "Homefront").
  • Betazed, Delta IV, and Bolarus IX have never been explicitly confirmed as Federation members, but at least one Deltan (Ilia), and Betazoids (Deanna Troi, Lon Suder), and many Bolians have served in Starfleet.
  • Risa is often affiliated with the Federation, but has never been explicitly confirmed as a Federation member, and no Risians have been shown serving in Starfleet.
  • Multiple Bajorans (Ro Laren, Sito Jaxa) were serving in Starfleet before the start of Deep Space Nine, but by DS9's end, Bajor had not joined the Federation.
  • Neither the planet Cait nor the Caitians, originally seen in the animated series, have been mentioned by name in any canon sources, but catlike aliens appeared as Federation members at Kirk's court-martial in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • In 2267, Captain Kirk said that humanity was on "a thousand planets and spreading out."[21]
  • Travelling back in time from 2373, Captain Jean-Luc Picard mentions that the Federation is made up of "over one hundred and fifty" planets, spread across 8,000 light-years.[22]
  • By the 26th century, the Federation had expanded to include the Klingons and Xindi.


  • In the TOS 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.
  • 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, "We don't."
  • In the Next Generation 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.
  • In the 1988 episode "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.
  • In the 1989 TNG episode "The Price", gold is still used as a currency between species, and the Ferengi offer gold ingots in their bid for the rights to a newly discovered wormhole. Gold is again implied to be a valuable currency in the 1992 episode "The Perfect Mate".
  • In the 1991 TNG episode "Unification, part II", an alien piano player asks Riker to put some coins in her tip jar if he wants information from her; he responds that he doesn't carry money.
  • The 1993 Deep Space Nine episode "Past Prologue" introduces a new currency, "gold-pressed latinum", which the Duras sisters accept 13 kilograms of in exchange for explosive material. Latinum would continue to be used as money throughout all seven seasons of DS9, with denominations including slips, strips, bars, and bricks.
  • In the 1994 Next Generation episode "Firstborn," Riker states that latinum can be spent "almost anywhere."
  • In the 1996 movie Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard says that the reason why money doesn't exist in the 24th century is because "the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives" and "we work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity". The latter phrase was used a year later in the Deep Space Nine episode "In the Cards", when Jake Sisko tells his Ferengi friend Nog of the Federation's philosophy.
  • By the time of the 1998 DS9 episode "Who Mourns for Morn?", the Ferengi consider gold "worthless", and primarily use it as a means of storing latinum.
  • In the 1999 Voyager episode "Dark Frontier," Tom Paris says that the late 22nd century was when the "new world economy took shape" and money "went the way of the dinosaur".

Future of the Federation[edit]

In the Short Treks episode "Calypso", taking place at an unknown time in the distant future, the character of Craft refers to the Federation as the "V'draysh". Little is said about the Federation, except that it is at war with Alcor IV, and that the V'draysh people are searching for artifacts from ancient human history. The writer of this episode, Michael Chabon, confirmed that the name "V'draysh" is a syncope for the word "Federation".[23]

In the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, taking place in the 32nd century, the Federation's flag appears with only six stars, instead of dozens in the 23rd and 24th century.[24]

The Discovery episode "That Hope Is You, Part 1" introduced The Burn, a cataclysmic event which happened in the 31st century. Dilithium, the power source of all starships, suddenly went inert, causing any starship with an active warp core to overload and explode. The Federation could not determine the cause of The Burn, nor predict if it would happen again. Afterwards, countless worlds seceded or could not be contacted for various reasons. Subsequently, the amount of Federation member worlds shrank from 350 at its peak to just 38. The ongoing plot thread of Discovery's third season is to determine what caused The Burn and possibly restore the Federation to its former glory.

Non-canon references[edit]

In non-canon sources like the original 1975 Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual, Johnson's Worlds of the Federation, and roleplaying games, the Federation's five founding members were Earth (or Terra), Vulcan, Tellar, Andor, and Alpha Centauri. Some non-canon 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, Centaurans, Centaurians, or Centauri.

The 1980-to-2188 historical guide Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology posits the Federation as being incorporated at 'the first Babel Interplanetary Conference' in 2087.

In books 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.


  1. ^ "Tomorrow is Yesterday"
  2. ^ "Balance of Terror" and "Arena (Star Trek)"
  3. ^ http://www.treknews.net/2017/11/08/gene-l-coon-saving-star-trek/
  4. ^ Time (magazine)
  5. ^ "Woody Goulart » Gene Roddenberry". October 31, 2011. Archived from the original on October 31, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  6. ^ Saswato R. Das (June 23, 2011). "Astronomical!". New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  7. ^ Matthew Yglesias (November 18, 2013). "The Star Trek Economy: (Mostly) Post-Scarcity (Mostly) Socialism". Slate Magazine. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  8. ^ Matthew Yglesias (May 15, 2013). "I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before". Slate Magazine. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  9. ^ Joseph Gargiulo (October 17, 2015). "The utopian future of 'Star Trek' doesn't work without extreme inequality and some slavery". Business Insider. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  10. ^ "The 15 Best Star Trek: TNG Episodes Of All Time". ScreenRant. April 28, 2020. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  11. ^ http://mediacommons.org/imr/2010/08/21/star-trek-fandom-and-mythos-themed-convention
  12. ^ The Outcast (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  13. ^ Star Trek IV and VI
  14. ^ Star Trek: Discovery Michael Burnham
  15. ^ "Extreme Measures (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)"
  16. ^ Doctor Bashir, I Presume?
  17. ^ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  18. ^ Accession (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
  19. ^ The Hunted (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  20. ^ "Attached" (The Next Generation)
  21. ^ "Metamorphosis (Star Trek: The Original Series)"
  22. ^ Star Trek: First Contact
  23. ^ Michael Chabon confirms the word V'draysh is a syncope, Michael Chabon's official Instagram page
  24. ^ Discovery 3'rd season trailer, on startrek.com

External links[edit]