The United Federation of Planets (also known as "The Federation" or UFP) is a fictional interplanetary federal republic depicted in the Star Trek television series and motion pictures. In those episodes and films, the Federation is described as an interstellar federal polity with, as of the year 2373, more than 150 member planet and thousands of colonies spread across 8,000 light years of the Milky Way Galaxy, and taking the form of a post-capitalist liberal democracy and constitution republic. It has also been described as a utopian socialist society. The Federation is described as stressing, at least nominally, the values of universal liberty, equality, justice, peace, and cooperation. The Federation also maintains its own military and exploratory agency, known as Starfleet.
The legislature of the Federation Council is located at the Presidio of San Francisco. Several other bodies of the Federation have been depicted. There is an executive branch headed by a Federation President, 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. The Federation's scientific, diplomatic and defensive/military arm is Starfleet, depicted as being headquartered at Fort Baker, just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. 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, with the exception of Star Trek: Enterprise, which is set before the Federation comes into existence.
In the series Star Trek: Enterprise, Earth Minister Nathan Samuels advocated the Coalition of Planets and invited other alien species, initially the Vulcans, Andorian and Tellarite, to become a part of this. The formation of the Coalition seems to have been the event that provoked the 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 , the United Federation of Planets was organized.
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Links: Wikipedia: UFP Memory Alpha: UFP Star Trek.com: UFP