The United Federation of Planets contains 150 planets-worth of civilisations. This includes Humans, Vulcans, and many others. Presumably they would have a massive capacity for producing warships if need be.

The Klingons are a standalone race, with a single planet as their homeworld, and perhaps some outposts and colonies. Sure, they like war a lot. But can they really compete with the Federation in production of warships?

What about the Romulans? They have two homeworlds... but really, how can they really pose a threat?

I realise that this is a very simplistic way to look at war, even from a historical perspective. But looking forward to hearing what people have to say.

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    Someone will post a properly referenced answer in due course, but the short version is that the Klingons have a lot of colonies, including the homeworlds of various conquered races. Ditto the Romulans, presumably. In the official maps they're both roughly the same size as the Federation, if I remember correctly. Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 9:18
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    @Lobo the US hasn't won any recent wars (unless you count Kosovo), and they've all been against smaller opponents, and usually with US allies.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 9:31
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    @OrangeDog - I'm reasonably sure that if the US waged total war, they'd be victorious with consummate ease. Nuking Hanoi would have ended the Vietnam war in minutes, albeit with... erm... consequences.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 9:55
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    They are not "single planet". They both control vast interstellar empires. That's how.
    – J Doe
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 12:54
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    @OrangeDog You haven't seen a full-fledged war with US yet. There's a reason why it's able to bully any nation on the planet.
    – user931
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 12:56

4 Answers 4


The Klingons and the Romulans control vast expanses of space. They have colonized many planets and have a population that might be rivalling that of the Federation. There's a reason they're called 'Empires' ('Star Empire' in the case of the Romulans.)

Just take a look at the semi-official map compiled in Star Trek Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel, and you'll see that the Klingons and the Romulans are definitely not a single-planet species.

Thus how they can pose a threat to the Federation: they have vast amount of resources at their disposal, allowing them to field formidable armies, both in ships and in the number of combatants.


A military threat is created when the population and the industrial potential of a species are diverted to military purposes. There is a proverb that in war, nobody is ever killed by a piece of gross domestic product, but it takes GDP to produce the means of warfare.

The utility of population vs. industry changed over history. Can a thousand men with bronze axes beat two thousand men with stone axes? Maybe. Maybe not. How about a hundred jet fighters vs. a thousand prop fighters? Yet there is no doubt that with an advanced technology like Star Trek, you don't need all that many people for your ships.

According to the Deep Space Nine Technical Manual, the Defiant had a maximum crew of 192; she could operate effectively with a much smaller crew.

  • Imagine a society where 1% of the population serves in the space force.
  • Imagine a planet with 5 billion inhabitants.
  • They could crew over 260,000 Defiant-class ships.

Of course I haven't accounted for shipyards, and starbases, and headquarters staff, or for the people who build the tools to build the tools to build starships, but then there are 99% of the population left.

So it comes down to industry to build a quarter million Defiants, not to finding the crew. Industrial-scale replicators can help, but it is not feasible to replicate an entire starship.

How powerful is the industry of a single system? That depends. Do they rely on robotics? Most species in Star Trek don't. What about asteroid mining? Most species in Star Trek rather go interstellar and put their mines on a planet.

That being said, it seems clear to me that both Klingons and Romulans have more than one planet at their disposal. The difference is that in the Klingon and Romulan empires, only one species is in control, while the Federation is more democratic.


The Star Trek universe contains many potent weapons and technologies. Here are a few examples from canon to illustrate the destructive possibilities.

  1. Time travel. Any warp capable civilization is capable of it and there are artifacts like the Guardian of Forever lying around. The past can be changed in the Star Trek universe so time travel could be used to alter timelines and erase whole civilizations.

  2. Omega molecules. Introduced in the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Omega Directive", these molecules could wipe out light years of space in a single small accidental detonation. With an explosive like this you don't have to get very close to your enemies to cut off their civilization, root and branch.

  3. Machine intelligence run amok. There are many examples of this in the series but the Biggest Big Bad of them all was V'ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. V'ger was unstoppable and had to be talked out of sterilizing Earth.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.


The most dangerous species that comes to mind regarding your question is clearly the species of sadistic Talosians of Talos IV. This species only has the one home world and was once warp-capable but no longer travels. Their mind-control abilities are incredibly powerful, they can make you see anything they wish and even drive you mad reaching far out into space making starships think they hear distress call to lure them in. When they capture anyone drawn in they experiment on them as animals with complete disregard for rights. The species is so very dangerous that Starfleet has issued a specific General Order 7 which grants the death penalty for any starship even contacting Talos IV.

The entire text of the order is available on Memory Alpha. The entire region of space around the Talos system is nearly impossible to navigate due to their telepathic powers, and Starfleet has issued an additional order stating,

any distress signal or other communication supposedly originating from anywhere in the entire Talosian region was to be assumed false, with no exceptions.

What use is a fleet of starships if they can not even communicate with each other, and the commanders can be driven mad with a thought?

The Talosians stopped warp travel 500,000 years ago. However, should they begin traveling again, who could possibly stop them?

I believe this explains how one single planet can threaten the entire Federation.


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