United Federation of Planets

In the fictional Star Trek universe, the United Federation of Planets (UFP) 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 television show Star Trek (1966-1969). The survival, success, and growth of the Federation and its principles of freedom have become some of the Star Trek franchise's central themes.

United Federation of Planets
The flag of the United Federation of Planets
UniverseStar Trek
TypeRepresentative Republic
CapitalSan Francisco, California and Paris, France, Earth, Sol System, Sector 001, Alpha Quadrant
CurrencyFederation Credit

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,[4] the creators were able to portray Cold War tensions with the Federation resembling NATO and the Klingons the Soviet Union.[5]


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.[6] Much debate has centered around how realistic is the "post-scarcity" economy of the Federation that has evolved beyond government-controlled monetary systems.[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-universe portrayal

Like many things in Star Trek, episodes and films may reference entities or laws within the Federation, but viewers are never given complete knowledge 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.[10]

In-universe references to the Federation include:

The organization of the Federation

Sovereignties wishing to join the Federation

  • Must not employ caste-based discrimination.[17]
  • Must not have a record of violations of sentient rights.[18]
  • A single, unified government is not required for admission, but is desirable.[19]

Statistics of the Federation

  • In 2267, Captain Kirk said that humanity was on "a thousand planets and spreading out."[20]
  • Travelling back in time to 2063, Captain Jean-Luc Picard mentions that the Federation is made up of "over one hundred and fifty" planets, spread across 8,000 light-years.[21]


  • In the TOS episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," set in 2267, Uhura is offered a pet tribble for 10 credits.
  • 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 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, "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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Next Generation episode "Firstborn," Riker states that "latinum," a Ferengi currency, can be spent "almost anywhere."

Future of the Federation

In the Short Treks episode "Calypso", taking place around 900 years in the future, the character of Craft refers to the Federation as the "V'draysh". Not much is told about the Federation, but it is told that it is in 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".[22]

In a trailer for the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, taking place around the same time as "Calypso", the Federation's flag appears with only six stars, instead of dozens in the 23rd and 24th century. Out of three large stars representing the founders of the Federation, only two remain. The trailer shows violent Andorian warriors, hinting that the Andorians also left the Federation.[23]

Non-canon references

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, the Centaurans, the Centaurians, or the 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.


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