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"An empire to be feared."

The Cardassian Union (also referred to as the Cardassian Empire or simply Cardassia) was the official governing body of the Cardassian people. The capital world was Cardassia Prime. The Cardassian Union was regarded as one of the great powers in the Alpha Quadrant, until its collapse at the end of the Dominion War.


Main article: Cardassian history


See also: Cardassian planets


The Cardassian Union was formed under a treaty that established a power-sharing agreement between the Cardassian Central Command and the Obsidian Order. Friction always existed between the two organizations as the Central Command worked to expand the reaches of the Union and the Obsidian Order worked to suppress it. The civilian Detapa Council was established to serve as the chief governing body between the two branches, however, in practice, the Council was virtually powerless, and the Union functioned as a totalitarian military dictatorship. (DS9: "Defiant")

In late-2371 or early-2372, following the destruction of the Obsidian Order at the Battle of the Omarion Nebula, the Detapa Council and the Cardassian dissident movement overthrew the Central Command in a coup d'état, establishing civilian control over the Union. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

In 2373, Gul Dukat secretly negotiated with the Dominion for the Cardassian Union to become its newest member. The Detapa Council was abolished in another coup and Gul Dukat was made the leader of the new Cardassian government. The Cardassian Union officially remained autonomous and would expand itself across the Alpha Quadrant. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light") This arrangement was later revealed to be an inaccurate description of reality, as Dukat (and his successors Legate Damar and Legate Broca) were actually subservient to the Vorta and the Founders. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")

The Cardassian military was led by the Central Command and the Cardassian forces were divided into several orders. The Obsidian Order, the intelligence agency of the Union, was sometimes referred to as part of the structure of the Cardassian military orders. (See also: Cardassian ranks)

The highest court of justice in the Cardassian Union was the Supreme Tribunal. The Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence provided the laws governing treatment and rights of prisoners in the Cardassian justice system. (DS9: "Tribunal")

Agencies and institutions[]

Subject species[]


During the 24th century, the Cardassians maintained trade alliances with the Valerians and Klaestrons. They also were known to use the Xepolites and Lissepians as trade intermediaries in arrangements that may otherwise have been considered illegal outside of the Union. (DS9: "Dax", "Dramatis Personae", "The Maquis, Part II")

Many of the primary worlds in the Cardassian Union lacked an abundance of natural resources. For this reason, the Union relied heavily on strip mining resources from neighboring planets which were not part of other Alpha Quadrant powers, such as Bajor. As opposed to making trade alliances with them, the Cardassian Central Command would often occupy worlds and use the populations as forced laborers. (TNG: "Ensign Ro"; DS9: "Emissary", "Duet")

The lek was the common form of currency within the Union. (VOY: "Caretaker")


Parallel universe[]

In another quantum reality, the Cardassian Union had been overthrown prior to 2370 by the Bajorans, who became increasingly aggressive towards the Federation. (TNG: "Parallels")


Background information[]

The production design related to the Cardassian Union was inspired by familiar aspects from reality. "Creativity is not something you get by sitting in a vacuum with a blank piece of paper and saying, 'I think I'll imagine what the Cardassian Empire looks like.' You don't do that," explained Herman Zimmerman. "What you do is call on all your experience and all of the visual images that you have been exposed to in your life and you rapidly go through them and select a few that you hope, when you put them together, will create something that nobody has seen before in exactly that way." (Trek: Deepspace Nine, p. 52)

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