Earth, the prototypical Class M planet, is the homeworld of the Humans and also the home of UFP and Starfleet headquarters. As such, it is the nerve center of the Federation. Some would also say that Earth is also its heart and soul, since the Humans’ long history of intramural conflict has at last taught them the value of peaceful cooperation between races.
Earth is the third planet of the Sol system. It is located in Sector 001 of the Alpha Quadrant, near the border with the Beta Quadrant. The system also lies close to the border between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
Earth sets the median climate standard for Class M planets. Temperatures in the polar zones almost never rise above freezing and are inhospitable to life. Both north and south sub-arctic zones are also hostile to life, but plants and small animals exist here. Humans also live in sub-arctic zones, but only with the aid of sophisticated shelters, and they have never populated these parts of the planet very densely. By contrast, temperatures around the equator are often too hot for comfortable Human habitation during the summer, and until the advent of Earth’s weather control network in the 23rd century, violent storms threatened the equatorial tropics. However, this has not prevented dense Human populations from forming in tropical areas. In fact, many Humans who live in regions closer to the poles make brief seasonal migrations to the tropics during the winter. Most Humans agree that sub-tropical regions provide the most suitable climate for permanent habitation. Earth’s population is concentrated in its sub-tropical belts, and most of its great civilizations have emerged in the sub-tropics.
By tradition, Earth’s landmass is divided into seven continents: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North America and South America. Of these, Antarctica covers the planet’s South Pole, and although it is heavily mined for natural resources, it has very few permanent inhabitants. North America and Europe are the most heavily industrialized, with Asia running close behind them in terms of economic development. The highest point on the planet, the peak of Mt. Everest, is located in Asia, just north of the Indian subcontinent.
Earth’s hydrosphere is divided into seven large bodies: the Arctic Ocean (which covers the North Poleand is frozen over with a thick ice cap year-round), the Arabian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Of these, the Pacific Ocean is the largest. It surrounds the entire continent of Australia and the islands of Oceania. The lowest point on the planet, the Marianas Trench, is also located in the middle of the Pacific.
Humans are famous among other starfaring races for their curiosity and adaptability. The former quality has driven them to explore as much of the Galaxy as they can reach, while the latter has enabled them to establish themselves in a wide range of environments and master many different tasks. Either way, they have come through the glory and infamy of their history to become the Federation’s dominant race.
Since helping to inaugurate the UFP in 2161, Earth has had no world government to speak of, and its remaining nation-states have seen their sovereign rights and powers fade into irrelevance. Their traditional heads of state serve little more than cosmetic purposes, and some states no longer even bother to field one at all. All residents of Earth and all extraterrestrial settlements that have traditionally fallen under Terran colonial authority are governed by the UFP and are subject to Federation civil law. Old national currencies have also faded away, and all economic activity is measured in Federation Credits. Traditional languages still survive in literature and song, and as objects of study and archaeo-linguists, but Federation Standard is the generally recognized first language of Humans.
Earth, being the home of humanity, is more specifically home to ten billion humans. Describing them all in a sentence would be a stereotype, and even the stereotype depends on whose description you use. Humans see themselves as brave, confident adventurers leading the Federation into the future. Vulcans and some Betazoids see humans as emotional, excitable children with great promise and great potential for mischief. Tellarites see humans as a great herd, pigheadedly placid or maniacally intense by turns. Centaurans see Earth as a planet of misfits and lovable oddballs; they joke that the ancient Sky Spirits used Earth as Alpha Centauri's jail and asylum for millennia. Andorians see humans as worthy brothers and useful allies in the attempt to keep the Federation from dissolving into well-meaning chaos; they are quick to agree that "all an Earther needs is a pair of antennae to be as blue as anyone." Bolians like everybody, but often worry that humans are too intent on new ideas really to concentrate on anything worth doing for long. On a planet of ten billion individuals, every single one of these stereotypes is correct, while at the same time none of them are.
The average Earth-borne human stands just under two meters tall (a little less for females), marries for life, pretends he can tell replicated food from homegrown, plays games with his/her friends, respects the Federation, jokes about Earth's government, works at what he loves in his main time, works just as hard on something else (art, sport, or science) in his spare time, wishes he kept up with the scientific journals, believes in a god or gods, is willing to forgive the Klingons and unwilling to trust the Cardassians, wants to see the colonies some day, knows about crime from holoprograms about Orions and about poverty from history class, and thinks that another ten or twelve starships ought to solve anything Starfleet runs across.
Although the main culture on Earth is a kind of technocratic, broadminded, ambitious one vaguely similar to that of the best of 20th century North America, there are elements of the adventurousness and optimism of Elizabethan England, the reverence for learning and culture of 11th century China, and the mutual support and communalism of the precontact Salish Indians. Earth's culture in the 24th century is truly multicultural: Students read the Odyssey, the Sundiata, and the Ramayana in school, for example. However, the total global distribution of wealth and leisure (made possible by the replicator and by antimatter energy conversion) has changed human cultures to a degree unimaginable before the 21st century. Many traditionalists, from all continents and all strands of human thought, emigrated to found colonies where the "old ways" could remain, such as Caldos IV. A United Earth encouraged this diaspora: It seeded the quadrant with humanity, preserved cultures which progress would otherwise destroy, and removed those people unable to adjust to the novel stresses of peace, freedom, and wealth. The result on Earth is a tapestry combining only the best and most progressive of human historical elements into one truly global milieu.
Humanity evolved on Earth over millions of years, wandering nearly the entire surface of the planet in that time (by 30,000 BC, nothing larger than New Zealand and Madagascar was left for humans to discover on their own planet). For most of that period (assuming they survived to adulthood) humans worked perhaps five or ten hours a week to feed and clothe themselves. It took nearly 14,000 years of invention and progress after the birth of agriculture to get back to that degree of comfort, prosperity, and leisure, and three world wars and two alien contacts to make it stick and spread it to all the Earth's inhabitants.
Earth is one of the Federation’s charter members, and as such, Humans have done their best to encourage peaceful interaction between the Galaxy’s intelligent life forms. They don’t always succeed, but as they like to say, “At least we tried.” Indeed, one could say that just about the entire history of Human civilization is a chronicle of failed attempts to get along with itself until, at last, humanity got it right.
For roughly 6000 years, Humans organized themselves into separate political entities based on tribal identity, loyalty to a great leader, democratic (but ultimately vague) conceptions of nationality, or some combination of the three. These entities, whether they called themselves empires, kingdoms or nations, fought each other as much as they cooperated with each other, competing for living space, natural resources, and other forms of political and economic advantage.
From the beginning of human life on the planet, human ideals were forged and defended in conflict. The seeds of the Federation spring for the wars of the fifth century BC, when the beginnings of free societies in Athens battled the birth of the multinational federation in Persia. The Roman Republic attempted to united these twin themes of human, history, but fell to domestic despotism and barbarian invasion. For the next millennium, the human destiny lay in pieces. The Roman Catholic Church defended the sanctity of human life and equality of all men and nations before God, but denied free thought and inquiry. The city-states of the southern Mediterranean Sea let free thought and crude democracy flower, but exploited other nations in cruel Crusades and the growth of slavery.
Over the next five centuries, humanity continued this schizophrenic growth: As art, science, and freedom expanded, so did slavery, tyranny, and warfare - sometimes in the same country. England gave birth to the rights of man while denying the humanity of its colonial subjects; the United States (a former colony of Englang) declared that all men are created equal and killed half a million of its own citizens in a four-year war to make it so.
Many of these wars had disastrous effects on the local or regional level, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that warfare proved calamitous on a global scale. Dramatic advances in industrial technology pioneered in the previous century allowed the planet’s major nation-states to develop truly destructive weapons, produce them in large numbers as well as mobilize the manpower to deploy them, and project them across vast distances. Two such wars resulted in hundreds of millions of military and civilian deaths between 1900-1950, and the second conflict also saw the Humans deploy for the first time weapons based on nuclear fission.
The experience was sobering enough to produce a temporary lull in widespread conflict, as well as the Humans’ most serious attempt at world government to date, known as the United Nations. Founded with great hopes, the United Nations ultimately failed because it had no real power to curb the sovereign rights of its member nation-states, and exerted little influence over powerful private interests.
The latter fact became painfully obvious in the 1990s, when a privately funded team of scientists used genetic engineering techniques to produce a group of Humans who were physically superior to the average run of the species. These carefully bred Humans came to believe that their superior abilities gave them the right to rule over others, and in a superbly orchestrated series of coups, they quietly and anonymously took control of the Earth’s 40 largest nation-states. The most powerful of them, Khan Noonien Singh, secretly reigned over one-fourth of the planet’s population at the height of his power. However, these “supermen” quickly fell out with each other, launching a calamitous economic war (known as the Eugenics War) even more destructive than the two major conflicts of the first half of the century. In 1996, after four years of catastrophe, the ruled rose against their rulers, reestablishing their former national identities and exiling Khan and his cohorts into deep space.
The resurgent nations of Earth quickly resumed their old rivalries. In 1999, philanthropist Optimo Basilius embarked on a very different kind of private venture, sponsoring a project that took 2,000 volunteer colonists from the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China and sent them into deep space. Basilius hoped that these representatives of the planet’s two most powerful nations would find a new home where they would cooperate with each other. These would-be pioneers disappeared from view when Earth’s next great catastrophe destroyed the tracking system that was following them, and their fate remained a mystery for over 200 years.
That next great calamity began in 2053. Most contemporary accounts of that period, known ever after as World War III, were lost and the historical record remains fragmentary. Based on existing evidence, historians have deduced that the war was largely provoked by Colonel Jamison Green, a former United States Military officer and failed Presidential candidate. Green engineered a grave crisis to throw the American government into chaos, thus allowing him to launch a coup and seize the power he could not gain through legal means. Using his connections within the American military chain of command, he launched unauthorized nuclear weapon attacks against other nations, provoking a global conflict that ultimately took 600 million lives.
The war plunged the Humans into another dark age, in which advanced civilization survived only in pockets. It took the legendary scientist and inventor Zefram Cochrane to revive his race’s fortunes. In 2063, he and his assistant Lily Sloane propelled the Humans into the interstellar age when they developed Earth’s first warp drive engine from a modified Titan V rocket. The warp signature from Cochrane’s ship, the Phoenix, alerted a passing Vulcan vessel to the existence of an advanced civilization on Earth. The Vulcans promptly initiated first contact, marking the first formal contact between Humans and an alien race. Prior contacts with Vulcans, Ferengi, and Devidians were all cloaked in secrecy or unnoticed by Humans of the time.
As their philosophers and social scientists had long predicted, this momentous event forced a radical shift in how Humans viewed themselves. Knowing for certain that a Galaxy rife with other intelligent species surrounded them, dominance among their own kind seemed less important than cooperation with their own kind in the name of unity. This new philosophical paradigm gave Humans the impetus to rebuild their civilization and launch a new age of interstellar exploration.
In 2149, Human scientists invented the first functional transporter device, and in 2151 the Enterprise NX-01, a prototype starship capable of warp 5, launched from the San Francisco Shipyard. In the early 22nd century, conflict between another Human starship, the Endeavor, and a Romulan vessel sparked a war between Earth and the Romulan Star Empire. The Romulans’ superior warship design gave them an early advantage, but Earth’s shipyards ramped up production, eventually giving them an offsetting numerical edge. The war ended after Human forces inflicted a decisive defeat at the Battle of Cheron. The armistice established a neutral zone between the Romulan Empire and what later became Federation space.
In 2161, delegations from Earth, Andoria, Vulcan, Tellar and Alpha Centauri met on Epsilon Eridani and drafted the conventions that founded the United Federation of Planets. From that point on, Human history becomes virtually synonymous with that of the UFP. Although Earth’s population remained predominantly Human, continual interaction with other races and its central role in the Federation also created pockets of permanent alien residents, with the largest centered around the Federation Council in San Francisco.
As the most important homeworld in the Federation, Earth remained largely insulated from the interstellar conflicts that raged elsewhere in the Galaxy. The arts and sciences flourished, and the planet became a living advertisement for the benefits of peace, prosperity and Human ingenuity. This state of happiness was interrupted, however, by the Dominion’s last great throw of the dice in the Dominion War — the dramatic Breen raid in 2375 that blasted Starfleet Headquarters and reduced much of San Francisco to rubble.
Earth's government, the United Earth Republic, was born from a union of the United States of America and the European Union after World War III. The resulting structure combines European parliamentary democracy and social welfare with North American federalism and individual rights. Although the "national" governments still exist (with theoretical powers similar to the state governments of the 20th century United States or German Federal Republic), they are almost completely unimportant to the average Earthling - they exist mainly to elect representatives to the United Earth Senate (an advisory body with limited veto powers). Most actual governing takes place at the local level - these bodies decide where roads will go, local architectural or zoning questions, and various other matters.
Without poverty or crime, there is very little else for the governments to do on Earth, and the average Earthling can go his entire life without ever seeing a government employee. A common joke on Earth is that the world government "controls everything and does nothing, or maybe vice versa." Citizens of Earth vote for delegates to the Earth Parliament, which includes representatives from direct colonies of Earth such as Mars, Titan, and Luna. Parliament primarily exists to coordinate Earth policy with Federation policy.
The government theoretically coordinates the various global networks of transporters, replicators, and antimatter power plants spread across the globe, but when a good-sized community college can construct things itself, any government role primarily devolves to promoting safety guidelines on the computer network.
Antimatter and replicators mean that any Earth citizen can, essentially, have anything he wants for ordinary life - any book, any food (or at least a replicated version), any clothing (or lack thereof), and so forth. With a replicator, housing (or anything else) is literally dirt cheap - local governments simply try to keep dwellings reasonably consistent in style and size to prevent ugly sprawl or overcrowding.
Earth's main exports are living ones. The education, training, and initiative of Earth's people makes them welcome in laboratories, colonial offices, factories, and universities across the galaxy. These colonists and expatriates then import animals and plants from Earth's vibrant ecologies to populate newly terraformed worlds under distant suns. Earth's vast production of knowledge and cultural goods from scientific papers to holodramas also earns it great credit in the post-monetary Federation economy.
Earth's system has very little dilithium, which it imports in great quantity from other worlds. Even this trade (and the trade in other rare minerals not found in the Sol System) is dwarfed, however, by the incoming floods of tourists and of luxury items. Foodstuffs like Romulan Ale or Vulcan plomeek find ready appetites in Earth's gourmet restaurants; Spican flame gems delight the more cosmopolitan of Earth's newly engaged couples; even handicrafts and artifacts from Andor or Vulcan gain honored places on the mantelpieces of Earth's tradition-minded and culturally aware populace.
Places of Interest
Even before Humans colonized Mars, they established a presence on the Earth’s only satellite, Luna, in 2050. The nascent Lunar settlement provided a safe haven during World War III, and saw a surge in population during its first decade from war refugees. By the 24th century the moon hosted a population of 50 million Humans, all of them living in domed settlements, devoted largely to mining, industrial production and hydroponic farming. The largest population center on the moon is Tycho City, which is located in and around the bowl of the Tycho Crater. Tycho City is the seat of the colonial government, which fell under the direct jurisdiction of the Federation when the UFP was founded.
The Borg invasion of 2369 put a scare into the moon colony, as residents participated in regular civil defense drills and hoarded emergency supplies. Fortunately, no violent incidents were reported. The most notorious incident from that time occurred in the settlement of New Berlin, where jumpy civil defense volunteers reported sighting a Borg cube, only to have their supervisor determine that they’d spotted a Ferengi trading vessel.
On the Earth itself, the scenic and cosmopolitan city of San Francisco, located on the west coast of North America, is the nerve center of the UFP. The Federation Council chambers and administrative offices are located here, as are Starfleet Headquarters and the main campus of Starfleet Academy. Both Starfleet HQ and the city at large took severe damage in the Jem'Hadar raid at the end of the Dominion War, but reconstruction began almost immediately.
The office of the UFP President is located in Paris, one of the major cities in western Europe. It is housed in a sleek skyscraper on the banks of the River Seine, within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. The site was once occupied by the Champ de Mars, where the 19th century dictator and would-be conqueror of Europe Napoleon Bonaparte used to review his soldiers. The UFP chose it quite deliberately, not just for its beauty but for its historical significance, replacing a landmark that celebrated war with one dedicated to peace and mutual understanding. The UFP also believed that its executive branch ought to be located halfway around the planet from the Council in order to preserve its independence, out of earshot of the constant cacophony of the Council chambers.
Every human in the Federation has some place on Earth with special meaning to him or her, whether it's an old family ranch in the Kenyan highlands, the legendary corner of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles (perfectly reconstructed after the Third World War from 20th century videotape stock), or the summer camp in Papua where he or she learned to sail an outrigger for the first time. Literally trillions of man-years of history - personal, familial, national, global, and universal - occurred (and still occur) on Earth; almost every square meter of the planet's surface holds significance for one of the galaxy's tens of billions of humans.
Some places draw more attention than others, however. Some tourists come to gaze at the great engineering feats such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Soong/Xingdao Mile-high Tower - all built without modern equipment of any kind. Some follow the great ideals Earth nurtured, ideals which helped create the Federation as we know it. These travelers visit sites such as Mt. Olivet, Runnymede, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Popper Museum in Old Vienna, or the Martian Free-dome in Burroughs City. Starfleet officers tend to visit Baikonur Reconstructed Cosmodrome, Tranquility Park on the Moon, or the Cochrane Monument in Montana.
Native Earthlings mostly live in their home cities or regions, traveling to visit relatives on holidays or for vacation - dealing with so many off-planet tourists make Earthlings notably blase about their own planet's sights. There are more than a few people living in St. Louis, for example, who have never bothered to take the twenty-minute trip to see the new Statue of Liberty in New York harbor (the fourth most popular single tourists destination on Earth currently). As with any planet of humans (especially one with ten billion of them), there are exceptions: Some humans do nothing but travel from historical point to famous site to trendy restaurant. One tour company specializes in "chronological" tours - their most elaborate tour is a two-decade-long trip which shows tourists all the major sites in Earth history, from the Olduvai Gorge to the Martian colonies, with two to five stops a day.
Of course, as the capital world of the Federation, Earth draws millions of visitors on official business. Many interstellar universities offer "a year on Earth," and even the elite Tellarite Engineering Upperschool accepts academic credits from universities like Edinburgh, Chicago, Duke, or Phnom-Penh. But cosmopolitan Earthlings are used to anything from Breen expatriate poets settling in Greenland to Ferengi entrepreneurs selling offworlds fraudulent, but exclusive, rights to the Hoover Dam. Centauran holoprogrammers lost in wonder beneath the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Andorian duelists making pilgrimages to Weehawken, Betazoid women "of a certain age" enjoying the good life in Texas, and Vulcan logicians debating at Cambridge raise no eyebrows.
Earth's fabulous genetic heritage draws interstellar tourists to see lions in the Serengeti, wolves in Yellowstone, bears in Okhichievsk, whales off Auckland in New Zealand, and more. Both ecotourists and xenobiologists find much to marvel at, and Earth's Office of Species Restoration continues to work wonders in recovering Earth's natural splendors. Many previously extinct species have been returned to their natural habitats (thanks to the wonders of DNA rejuvenation).
- Burns, Eric, Kenneth A. Hite & Doug Sun. Star Trek Roleplaying Game Book 7: Worlds, Decipher, 2005. ISBN: 1582369097.
- Cambias, James, et al. Planets of the UFP: A Guide to Federation Worlds, Last Unicorn Games, 1999. ISBN: 0671040065.
- Isaacs, Ross A., et al. A Cadet's Guide to Sector 001, New York: Last Unicorn Games, 1999.