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"How easy for you to judge us. Federation planets seem to want for nothing. But our planet is a hardscrabble world… famine is still a threat… it's not so easy for us."

Cardassia Prime, or simply Cardassia, was the inhabited second planet in the Cardassian system, located in the Cardassian Zone of the Alpha Quadrant. It had a single moon. Cardassia was the capital planet of the Cardassian Union and the homeworld of the Cardassians, a warp-capable humanoid species. During the Dominion War, the planet hosted the Dominion headquarters in the Alpha Quadrant.


Dominion withdrawal, Cardassian system, tactical display

The location of Cardassia in the Cardassian system

In 2259, the location of this planet was labeled on a stellar cartography chart that was seen on the USS Enterprise's ready room viewscreen. The planet's symbol had a yellow color and this color was used for indicating the affiliation of nearby locations. (SNW: "Strange New Worlds")

In 2375, the location of Cardassia was labeled on a tactical map that was displayed in the wardroom of Deep Space 9. (DS9: "When It Rains..." okudagram)

Later that year, the position and orbital path of Cardassia were illustrated on a tactical map in the wardroom of Deep Space 9. (DS9: "The Dogs of War", okudagram)

In 3189, the location of Cardassia Prime was denoted on a holographic star chart of the galaxy at Federation Headquarters. (DIS: "Die Trying")


In comparison to Humans, Cardassians preferred a darker, warmer and more humid environment, most likely reflecting the surface conditions on their homeworld. (DS9: "The Wire", "For the Cause")

Although Cardassia Prime was a world with few natural resources, the rare mineral jevonite could be found on the planet. (TNG: "Chain Of Command, Part II")


Points of interest

Flora and fauna[]


See also: Cardassian history

In ancient times, Cardassia Prime was home to the First Hebitian civilization, which produced some of the finest art and architecture in the quadrant. (TNG: "Chain Of Command, Part II")

Bajoran lightships were able to reach Cardassia in the 16th century by making use of tachyon eddies. (DS9: "Explorers")

By the 22nd century, the Cardassians had become a spacefaring civilization. Due to their homeworld's lack of natural resources, widespread impoverishment, famine, and disease caused Cardassian society to become increasingly militarized and aggressive. Much of the planet's rich cultural heritage was plundered to fund the Cardassians' expansionary wars. (TNG: "Chain Of Command, Part II"; ENT: "Observer Effect")

Cardassian Court TV

O'Brien's trial is broadcast in the streets on Cardassia

In 2370, Chief Miles O'Brien was taken to Cardassia for a show trial that attempted, unsuccessfully, to implicate Starfleet in supplying weapons to the Maquis. (DS9: "Tribunal")

In 2371, Major Kira Nerys was abducted to Cardassia as part of an Obsidian Order plot to expose Legate Tekeny Ghemor as a traitor. (DS9: "Second Skin")

Cardassia Prime saw extensive civic unrest in early 2372, as the Cardassian dissident movement took advantage of the Obsidian Order's destruction to overthrow the Central Command and restore power to the Detapa Council. Encouraged by a Changeling agent to use the revolution as a pretext for a war of conquest, the Klingons subsequently launched a massive invasion force toward Cardassia Prime. They turned away from the planet after the USS Defiant evacuated the Detapa Council to Deep Space 9. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

In mid-2373, the Defiant visited Cardassia to take the Orb of Time back to Bajor. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

Dominion fleet regroups at Cardassia Prime

Dominion and Breen forces prepare to defend Cardassia Prime

Cardassia in ruins

The capital city burning after the Dominion War

From 2373 to 2375, Cardassia Prime was a member of the Dominion and hosted the headquarters of the Dominion presence in the Alpha Quadrant. The planet was heavily reinforced by Jem'Hadar forces through the Bajoran wormhole, and at the onset of the Dominion War in late 2373 served as the launching point for the fleet that seized Deep Space 9 from the Federation. (DS9: "Call to Arms")

In late 2375, Damar, Kira Nerys, and Elim Garak were forced into hiding on Cardassia Prime after the destruction of the Cardassian Liberation Front. There, they were able to organize a large-scale civilian uprising that damaged almost every Dominion installation on the planet and cut power to the capital city for twenty-six minutes. In retaliation, the Dominion razed Lakarian City, killing two million Cardassians. Rather than quell the rebellion, this atrocity caused the Cardassian military to turn against the Dominion during the pivotal defense of the Cardassian system.

With the main engagement lost, the Jem'Hadar and Breen fleets withdrew to the orbital space of Cardassia Prime, which had been fortified with weapon platforms, and prepared to fight the Federation Alliance to the death. Meanwhile, the enraged Female Changeling ordered the extermination of the entire Cardassian population. Although resistance forces soon managed to breach Dominion Headquarters, whereupon Odo brokered an end to hostilities, much of the planet had been reduced to ruins and the death toll stood at a staggering eight hundred million. (DS9: "The Dogs of War", "What You Leave Behind")

In 2380, Cardassia Prime was to host a historic peace summit, with Captain Carol Freeman of the USS Cerritos mediating between the parties. However, the talks were relocated to Vulcan at the last minute, in part because, according to Admiral Wong, "nobody wants to go to Cardassia Prime." (LD: "Temporal Edict")

This planet was listed with other planets that were identified as Starfleet allies in a chart which appeared on the USS Dauntless logistics strategic data display in 2384. (PRO: "Supernova, Part 1")

Jack Crusher, under his alias "John Carson", was charged with the distribution of illegal liquors on Cardassia Prime in the late 24th century. (PIC: "Disengage")

In an alternate 24th century, Cardassia Prime was attacked by the Confederation of Earth. Gul Dukat fell to General Jean-Luc Picard in its defense. (PIC: "Penance")



Background information[]

"car-DASS-ee-uh" was the pronunciation for this planet's name from the script pronunciation guide for "Tribunal". [1]

The DS9 writing staff hoped to establish Cardassia in the second season of the series. "We're going to have to explore what Cardassia is," declared Ira Steven Behr. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, Nos. 3/4, p. 108)

The second season outing "The Wire" established that the Cardassian homeworld was called Cardassia Prime. The planet was first seen on screen shortly thereafter, in DS9: "Tribunal" (Season 2's penultimate episode). Benjamin Sisko actor Avery Brooks, who directed "Tribunal", had to account for the newness of the locale. "So there were new things for me to consider," he recalled, "like what the temperature was likely to be, and that kind of thing." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 150)

In "Tribunal", the Cardassian homeworld was realized with several matte paintings created by Illusion Arts, Inc.. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 111) One such painting was done by Syd Dutton and Robert Stromberg. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 150) Stromberg was instrumental in visualizing Cardassia for the episode. His Cardassian cityscape took cues from Deep Space 9: "Robert took architectural elements from that and painted buildings that emulate that type of structure," stated David Williams, the optical cameraman at Illusion Arts. "He used dark lighting because Cardassians don't like light." Stromberg also added a volcano in some preliminary sketches, but it was later removed because the producers thought it was slightly too much activity for the scene. The final version of the matte painting measured 20 x 24 inches. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 72)

For the views of Cardassia in "Tribunal", several forced-perspective miniatures were crafted by model-maker Tony Meininger. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 150) As well as being populated by adding footage of people from Illusion Arts, the aforestated Cardassian matte painting by Stromberg was combined with a miniature for the foreground, which allowed for a considerably complex camera move. The landscape portion of the painting was shot in one camera pass, then a second pass filmed the clouds above the city. While the clouds were being recorded, the motion control rig moved the painting at a faster rate than for the first pass, creating the illusion of rolling clouds when the two passes were put together. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, pp. 72-73)

Production Designer Herman Zimmerman has said he took inspiration in the set design for "Tribunal" from George Orwell's 1948 book Nineteen Eighty-Four, and of the final look of Cardassia, Zimmerman explained, "Spartan, uncompromising and merciless are all adjectives that you could use to describe Cardassia." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 150)

Following its on-screen debut in "Tribunal", plans were made for Cardassia to continue being developed in DS9 Season 3. "There are things happening on Cardassia which you heard a bit about in 'The Maquis' and 'The Wire'. We're going to keep that bubbling," stated Ira Steven Behr. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 25/26, No. 6/1, p. 98) At the conclusion of that season, Behr declared that "deepening Cardassia" was an important goal for the writers to bear in mind for the fourth season. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 115)

The DS9 writing staff continued elaborating on the politics of Cardassia. In season four offering "Indiscretion", the writers used the planet to metaphorically represent the USSR during the period after the Berlin Wall came down, when communism waned in favor of capitalism. "We were kind of going down that road with Cardassia," reflected Robert Hewitt Wolfe. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 274) Similarly, Wolfe likened Cardassia, shortly before it joined the Dominion in fifth season installment "By Inferno's Light", to impoverished Germany under the governance of the Weimar Republic in the time between the two world wars. "Cardassia was losing," he noted. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 427)

At one time, writing duo David Weddle and Bradley Thompson – taking inspiration from a news story about Russian scientists who were extracting plutonium from nuclear warheads and selling it, and bearing in mind Cardassia Prime was falling apart – imagined what would happen if the planet's inhabitants decided to sell off Cardassia's weapons. This idea was the genesis of season five outing "Business as Usual", though the planet was ultimately written out of the story. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 437-438)

By the time René Echevarria wrote DS9 Season 7 installment "Afterimage", the DS9 writing staff were definite they aimed to have Cardassia destroyed at the end of the series. "That was something Ira [Behr] specifically wanted," explained Echevarria. "The world in flames. The earth salted. Destroyed. It was almost personal." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 608)

In "The Dogs of War", a scene set on Cardassia, in Enabran Tain's basement, was edited down. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 694)

Views of Cardassia from orbit were included in visual effects footage from "What You Leave Behind" which was supervised by David Stipes. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, pp. 87 & 88)

According to Star Trek: Star Charts (pp. 35, 43 & 46) and the Stellar Cartography: The Starfleet Reference Library ("The Dominion War: Strategy and Battles, 2373-75" & "Stellar Cartography", p. 18, 20-21), the capital of Cardassia (Cardassia VI) was Lakat. The dominant species were the humanoid Cardassians. In 2378, the population was 7.9 billion. The Cardassians have been warp-capable since 1925. Major attractions of the planet included the Imperial Plaza, the Lakarian Amusement Park, and University of Culat. In December 2375, the Battle of Cardassia was won by the Federation and its allies. During this battle, the Dominion instrumented a planet-wide "vengeance genocide" against their former allies. Most of the major cities were destroyed. Lakat alone suffered 2 million dead. After the war, Bajorans aided the Cardassians in the rebuilding of their world.


The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual (p. 3), gives the distance between Cardassia and Bajor as 5.25 light years, and places Cardassia in the Bajor sector.

According to Decipher's Aliens sourcebook, Cardassia is the third planet in its system. However, the Worlds sourcebook says it's the second planet in its system.

In the non-canon novel A Stitch in Time, Elim Garak aids in the reconstruction of Cardassia after the Dominion War. Furthermore, despite opposition from prominent figures such as Gul Evek and Gul Madred, Cardassia took on a democratic-styled government, ending the military's rule.

In the alternate future seen in the Deep Space Nine book trilogy Millennium, Cardassia Prime, along with the entire Cardassian Union, were razed by the Grigari. By the year 2399, the Cardassians were all but extinct.

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