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I'm creating a full-fledged galactic republic, in a galaxy not so very different from our own. It's designed to encompass the majority of the stellar systems in the galaxy, including some of the globular clusters orbiting outside the galactic plane. I'm aware that a galactic government of any sort will face logistical challenges, but I'd like to have a capital planet nonetheless, à la the Coruscant of Star Wars (though preferably not a city planet).

I have some ideas for the planet itself, but I'm still trying to figure out where to put it. A central location makes it easier to get to all parts of the republic in reasonable times, with faster-than-light travel, but it risks creating a prosperous bubble that could alienate other parts of the republic. I could put it somewhere on the outer rim of the galaxy, but that makes it inaccessible and gives it an even more isolationist feeling. Setting the capital somewhere in between is yet another option.

I do have some criteria I'd like to evaluate answers on:

  • The ability to get to most parts of the galaxy in a reasonably short time (assume that travel may be faster than light but still finite in speed).
  • The amount and type of resources available (e.g. hydrogen gas available to be harvested for fuel; element distribution was discussed here). The capital should be in a place that's fairly prosperous.
  • The stability and safety of a planet in such a region. Places prone to stellar collisions are not good choices! Additionally, placing the planet near the supermassive black hole is likely not a good idea.

Bearing these criteria in mind, where should I put the galaxy's capital? Near the center, the outer rim, in between, the halo, a globular cluster, or somewhere completely different? In a stellar cluster, molecular cloud, or in a lone system?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Dec 26 '16 at 3:11

19 Answers 19

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It is important to realize that there is a historic context to a capital. This means a lot of things, and let's look at some Earth capitals to compare:

Washington D.C. makes no sense as the capital of a large, wide-spread nation like the United States. It is far on the East Coast, is part of a district that isn't in any particular state. Historically, however, it was built in a location to be center to the 13 colonies, and its existence outside of any particular state was to represent its independence from those states. Originally, the site of Washington D.C. was a swamp, and it was a city built to lead.

Bratislava in Slovakia is basically on the border between Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary. It is a capital largely because it was historically a place of power for the Austrian-Hungarian monarchies, and served as the capital of Hungary when Budapest was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and during that city's reconstruction. Interestingly enough, Bratislava is pretty close to the geographic center of Europe.

The final one I will point out is Brussels being the headquarters of the EU. This one has its roots in politics. The 1951 Treaty of Paris attempted to unify the coal and steel production of Europe into a joint venture, but nobody could agree where to host the meetings of this venture. Later the 1957 Treaty of Rome did a similar thing for Atomic energy, again with nobody agreeing where to permanently meet. An agreement was made that each signatory would host the meetings in turn, starting with Belgium. Because no further agreements were made with the hosting of EU instituitions, Brussels became the De Facto headquarters of the EU.

How does this help your setting? Well, to make a capital feel like it fits and isn't contrived, all of these forces should be in play. I think the worst place for the capital should be the center of the governed areas. Perhaps territories enter or leave the Galactic Union (GU), or maybe the major shipping lanes don't go through the middle for some reason. Maybe the capital has been on Praxalaxis V since the beginning of the Galactic Federation (which eventually became the Galactic Union through the Treaty of The Boreal Nebula in 4502 and added the territories of the Union of Sovereign Stars).

Heck, make the location of the capital a background story in your setting. Have protesters from the upper reaches of the GU want the capital moved, as Praxalaxis V is far to the bottom of the GU, and this benefits certain planets due to lucrative trading.

Figure out the history of your galactic government before trying to determine where the capital fits. There are probably a few dozen cool things that could have influenced it.

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    $\begingroup$ Another interesting one is Ottawa in Canada was selected as capital simply because it was halfway between Toronto and Montreal. $\endgroup$ – Sandy Chapman Dec 21 '16 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ For the sake of completeness maybe you should also mention purpose-built capitals though, like Brasilia. And of course there are also countries like South Africa with an even more peculiar arrangement. $\endgroup$ – biziclop Dec 21 '16 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ @biziclop I just went with the ones I already knew about. I wasn't going to do a lengthy bit of research for an answer. $\endgroup$ – Marshall Tigerus Dec 21 '16 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @SandyChapman -- that's not quite correct. There was another, more interesting driver in the decision to move the capital to Ottawa. Originally, Kingston, Ontario, was the capital of Canada, partly because it was halfway between Montreal and Toronto, and partly because it was where the Prime Minister (Sir John A. MacDonald) lived. The capital was moved to Ottawa specifically to make it harder to reach from the U.S., back when English-American relations were tense. (Kingston is right on the border.) $\endgroup$ – Earl Jenkins Dec 21 '16 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @biziclop, the first example (Washington D.C.) is a purpose-built capital. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Dec 21 '16 at 23:43
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Location of the capital will highly depend on the characteristics of light speed travel. First, here is a map of a galaxy that might look a lot like ours:

The Milky Way

Let's look at some possibilities.

Travel is along pre-determined 'wormhole corridors'

Suppose, as many space-expansion games do, that travel is restricted to certain 'corridors' that are defined by some as-yet-unknown property of space-time. In that case, wherever there is a convenient and centrally located junction of 'space roads,' there would be a good place to build a capital.

Travel is restricted to certain-distance jumps

If travel is restricted to jumps of a certain distance (some number of light years), then crossing the 'empty' space between arms would be dangerous. Therefore, it would be much better to travel up and down the arms, and then cross in relatively heavily traveled corridors. Different maps label the arms differently, but the Orion spur (which we are in conveniently) crosses kind of kitty-corner between the Crus-Scutum (or Scutum-Centaurus), Sagittarius (or Carina-Sagittarius), and Perseus arms. Not shown on my attached map is the 'long bar', a barred arm that reaches from the 3 kiloparsec arms around the galactic core out connect with Norma, Scutum, Sagittarius, and Orion Spur. Somewhere in the Orion Spur to Long Bar would be the best place for a capital in this scenario.

Alternately there may be a dense spur arm that corresponds to the Orion arm on the other side of the galactic core that we can't see (since its behind the core). That is represented by the gray region on the attached map.

All space is passable

If all regions of space are passable, and there is no penalty to crossing empty space, then the location of the capital would likely correspond with the highest density of habitable star systems, which should correspond with the highest availability of resources. This would be the regions just outside the 3 kiloparsec arms on either end of the ovoid galactic center, where the various arms merge into the 3 kiloparsec arms. The habitable planets would likely be in a relatively flat plane corresponding with the thin disk of younger, more metal rich stars.

The inner regions of the galaxy are uninhabitable due to X

Many sci-fi type stories suggest that the galactic center is hostile to life, due to black holes, radiation, or something. It could be that the presence of (many?) black holes makes navigation at FTL speeds through the core impossible. Alternately, it could be that high radiation levels prevents passengers from going through, or colonies from being established.

In that case, transfer between arms at the 3 kiloparsec arms or at the bars might not be easy at all, and a galactic civilization would be best developed extending along a single arm. Perseus, Sagittarius, and Scutum are the three largest arms, with Orion spur being small, and Norma not being as dense. So the capital would develop centrally on one of the three large arms.

Who rules the galaxy?

Whatever species ends up being dominant in the galaxy will likely have the most say in where the capital is. And if that species is sentimental about its homeworld, then that homeworld is likely to be default capital, no matter if its location is optimal or not. Good thing Earth is fairly optimal in 2 of the three scenarios above!

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    $\begingroup$ here is a map of a galaxy that might look alot like ours ...it is ours. $\endgroup$ – Mathieu Guindon Dec 20 '16 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Mat'sMug That is called understatement for humorous effect. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 20 '16 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ Upvoted due to completeness of answer. $\endgroup$ – Zoey Boles Dec 22 '16 at 15:51
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Elect a Capital

Hold elections to host the galactic capital and change it every few years (like the Olympics).

Obviously, only systems that can afford to host the capital should be electable. This should also provide some plot details for you in terms of electioneering/fraud/violence/whatever.

Candidates for Galactic Capitals should:

  • Demonstrably afford to host the duties of a capital planet
  • Be able to comfortably host representatives of all attending galactic races
  • Guarantee the safety of all participating representatives, regardless of any inter-race difficulties (neutrality is enforced)
  • Guarantee safe travel with the entire solar system of the current galactic capital

It goes without saying that successful candidate systems will increase their chances of future elections.

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    $\begingroup$ This is either terrible, because it could require massive infrastructure changes, or brilliant, because it promotes equality among star systems. I prefer to think of it as the latter. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 20 '16 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ ARGH, you beat me to it! $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Dec 20 '16 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ It's both. Terrible and brilliant. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Dec 20 '16 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot - Politics is always terrible to some people. Not every writer wants a sterile benevolent society.... $\endgroup$ – user10945 Dec 20 '16 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ You could even call the Galactic Capital the "South Africa World Cup Stadium!" A few thousand years in the future, they may not recognize the reference, but we sure will! (That stadium was beautiful, but now goes unused because nobody can afford to use it) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Dec 20 '16 at 21:08
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Make the capital mobile, like a city ship. It moves from system to system every few years in a circuit around the galaxy.
Because of FTL where it's located doesn't make a huge amount of difference, so it moves around as a way to be close to the people and see what conditions are like in different parts of the galaxy, and so that there is no "back end of the galaxy".

Eventually all systems will be at least a couple jumps away from the capital, and the potential increase in trade that comes with that will be a boost to their economies.
When the capital eventually moves away you'll still have people that will order your fine Junian brandy or what ever signature goods your system has.

It could also make special trips for the purpose of disaster relief.

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    $\begingroup$ Do avoid including planetary death lasers on the ship though, some small fleets of letter shaped ships may not like that and decide to stop you in your perfectly normal capitalistic goals. $\endgroup$ – agweber Dec 20 '16 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ @agweber I figure that the capitol should probably be unarmed, but have a large escort force around it. The key will be to have the host want you there so it doesn't look like you are trying to impose your will on them. We aren't here to pacify you. (and I do get the reference :) $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Dec 20 '16 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ And make sure you don't have an open exhaust vent. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Dec 21 '16 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ "That's no moon. That's a Galactic Capital" "It's too BIG to be a Galactic Captial". "I have a bad feeling about this." $\endgroup$ – Shawn V. Wilson Dec 22 '16 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ If capital passing by means an economical boom and capital makes disaster relief trips then causing some disaster at your neighbour's system can be a winning tactic. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Dec 26 '16 at 9:38
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It's worth remembering that the galaxy is not actually flat (sounds obvious, but somehow something that almost every science fiction writer tends to forget!). So why not put it on "top" of the galactic central core. The advantage of this is that you would then have direct line of sight (and presumably, travel) with every other star in the galaxy, minus the blind spot "beneath" the galactic central core, which, while a large volume of space, will be less densely filled with stars than the galactic disc. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Problem: all stars orbit the galactic center. A stellar system couldn't stay in this location; its orbit would take it through the galactic plane. Although depending on the story, I suppose this would take place over such long timescales as to not be relevant. $\endgroup$ – ApproachingDarknessFish Dec 21 '16 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ The other problem is here is that the proposed capital would be entirely artificial and have no access to any natural resources (Sun, atmosphere, fuel, food, etc.). It'll also be wide open for potential attack. $\endgroup$ – user10945 Dec 21 '16 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Pᴇᴛᴇ: no, it could be on a planet that orbits a star which just happens to be in that place as part of an excentric orbit around the galactic core. $\endgroup$ – Michael Borgwardt Dec 21 '16 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Line of sight is not useful: think of the scale and the speed of light. Communications either has to be by FTL transport of mail or by some as yet unknown FTL radiation. Now, if "ultralight" transmissions need prodigious amounts of energy to generate and cannot propagate through zones of high matter density, the key location may be a black hole or neutron star high on the galactic axis. (Not my idea. Read Vernor Vinge A Fire Upon the Deep if you haven't, wherein this concept goes several stages further). $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Dec 22 '16 at 12:57
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How about a virtual capital planet?

The planet does not physically exist anywhere, instead it exists in the galactic web as a VR world. If you have FTL travel, you have FTL communication too.

  • It is instantly accessible from anywhere in the galaxy.
  • Local resources are not an issue.
  • Physical safety is not an issue, as visitors, delegates, counsellors, diplomats, politicians and all other galactic servants remain at home in their nice safe home environments.

As it is hosted across a distributed network, by all of the member systems, it gets all the redundancy and resilience that comes with that, but ... cyber security might be a problem. 404 error: government not found.

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    $\begingroup$ This is what I was thinking, too. The "Capital" would actually be a conglomeration of every "Imperial Capital" building in the galaxy, one on every planet. Ambassadors from every other planet have an office in the central building, and serve as a backup congress if the VR network goes down. $\endgroup$ – Zoey Boles Dec 22 '16 at 15:54
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I think it depends on whether you want the capital to be one which is created or organic.

Created "Artificial" capital

If it's created, I'd personally go about fleshing out how the republic was formed, since balancing the various power blocs that will emerge within any political entity is a vital element of working out where the capital will be placed.

If the republic came about as a conglomeration of smaller pre-existing states with their own capitals and one was elected, remember its more likely that the one picked was either the most powerful (politically, militarily, economically, or all three) or the "Least Worst Choice" for everybody else. Alternatively, was the capital placed somewhere like with the formation of the USA and their creation of Washington D.C.? If you're literally creating one from scratch, was it an existing well populated planet or was some backwater planet elevated or colonized planet colonized?

Organic "Historical Artifact" capital

If the capital became such organically, you'll need to think about how the galactic republic was formed - Did it come about as an organic growth of colonies from a primary planet? If you did this, create a map and use how your FTL works to work out what shape you want your republic to be and place your capital where it makes the most sense.

Other things to consider

Remember in real life that a lot of capitals are also ports whilst others are historical noble strongholds, or economically superior to other areas in some way. Almost all of them are where they are due to historical politics and war, and a lot of these historical political reasons for being the capital no longer exist, replaced instead by the inherent power of being a capital. Also, if you look at where capitals are on a map, they are very rarely dead centre geographically in the country - instead they are often in places which bring power economically so consider this too.

Also bear in mind that any travel routes will span out from this location like the centre of a spiders web.

You'll also need to bear in mind how your FTL works as this will affect the politics. "FTL Corridors" will mean that the capital is more likely to be at a big junction. IF it's gates, you'll need somewhere you can have lots of them.

Also, does your story need it to be accessible or inaccessible?

As for balance - don't worry too much about "creating a prosperous bubble that could alienate other parts of the republic" - This is going to happen in a realistic system wherever you put it. As a rule, the closer you are to a centre of power, the higher likelihood there is of being "prosperous".

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    $\begingroup$ I like this a lot. The first colony, the primary planet, should have the most historic significance. Old Earth, so to speak. $\endgroup$ – Trilarion Dec 21 '16 at 12:18
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In my case, I would go with a capital chain instead of one particular capital. Consider something like this (GC is the galactic core but the range shown is not the actual size, but instead the danger zone of it):

enter image description here

Those little dots could be capitals which are spread across the galaxy, instead of being in just one place. Since those capitals are planets and not tiny ships, they could have huge versions of the engines that the ships had and therefore, allow travel at speeds that exceed the limit proposed for ships.

Since we're not going for scientific accuracy, it could even be a matter of seconds with something like a stargate. We could even go one step further and allow time travel instead. Travelling from one stargate to another could feel like two weeks to you (which is in the confines of your travel times) but it would be a matter of seconds for everyone else (this would also solve supply line problems, since materials aren't living beings).

Heck, why not give ships a small version of this time travelling engine, in turn giving them the ability to dodge shots from time to time (since space combat is usually utterly boring when capital ships are involved).

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  • $\begingroup$ Like the eastern and western capital of the late Roman Empire? $\endgroup$ – Sir Adelaide Dec 21 '16 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ Something like that. The difference being, time was a really big problem in the real world and the most likely reason for Rome's eventual split. If you're going total fiction and you're not really bound by laws of physics, this works much better for this galactic empire than it did for Romans. If you have instant communications then the problems Romans had are not too relevant. $\endgroup$ – John Hamilton Dec 22 '16 at 7:51
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You are correct that a central location may be the most practical location because it provides the minimum average distance to all occupied stellar systems. This is the approach followed in placing Coruscant (from "Star Wars") and Trantor (from Asimov's "Foundation" series) both near the center of the galaxy. Later in the "Foundation" series the galactic capital was moved on the outer rim. Huh?

In the real world, no capitals are located in the center of a nation because because the center of most nations does not border the ocean and is therefore relatively inaccessible. Does your faster-than-light travel rely on hyperspace routes, natural wormholes, or any other transportation corridors? If so, the capital city should be located on one of these avenues of travel. Historically, the most important resource capital cities have needed access to is food shipments. If your stories revolve around a single resource like Frank Herbert's "Dune" or Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth" then, your capital should be located somewhere with good access to that resource.

But practicality is only one reason for a capital to be located somewhere. Most capitals get their location from political histories. Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire because the city of Rome conquered the Mediterranean. If Carthage had defeated Rome then the Mediterranean Empire would have located it's capital in Carthage. The capital of China has moved between Beijing, Nanjing and other cities depending on who had won the last war. This is the same reason why the capital of India used to be London. The capital of the United States is located in Washington D.C. as part of a political deal worked out during the founding of the country. The headquarters of the United Nations is located in New York City on the opposite side of the planet from most of our population because the United Nations was founded by the United States in the ashes of World War II. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel for religious reasons.

So the real question to ask is "Where did this galactic republic come from?" Did it evolve in a slow democratic transition from a galactic empire? If so then the capital should be the cultural center of whatever federation initially conquered the galaxy. Did your galactic republic form from a confederacy like the USA? Then it should be located somewhere politically advantageous to the founders of that confederacy. Did the republic evolve out of an idealistic transnational organization like the United Nations or European Union? Then it should be located at whatever the liberal capital of the galaxy was at the time this organization was founded. Is the galactic republic dominated by certain ethnic groups? Then the capitol should be located near the population centers of those ethnic groups.

These are just a few or the reasons capitals are located where they are on Earth. In a science fiction setting, capitals can be located in places for other reasons. Perhaps you want to place a capital far away from threatening aliens so it'll be safe. Perhaps you want to place the capital close to aliens so that you can communicate easily. Maybe the capitol should be Earth because it's where people came from (this will put it near the outer rim). Maybe your capital should be strategically positioned near the location of a recently suppressed rebellion.

In summary, where did this galactic republic come from and who's pulling the strings? The location of the capital will tell others what is important to the inhabitants of the galaxy.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that in the real world we still have plenty of capitals which are not near any ocean. $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Dec 22 '16 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann. But almost all are on rivers in that case. I would imagine Lesotho would have a hard time putting their capital by the sea, but Maseru is on a river. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 23 '16 at 22:18
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Consider the history of your spacefaring race, and where they started from.

For example, if humans were to colonise the galaxy using FTL, it is likely that Earth would be the capital for at least a few centuries. It would be a huge shift of economics and ideals to move the seat of government away from its historical roots. It could happen, but only if the reasons were monumentally large, such as massive destruction of the home planet's ecology. But it would take a long time for various colonies to even reach viable population sizes, and while that is happening the government would be on the home planet and everyone would become happy with that arrangement (hopefully).

But maybe in your galaxy, colonisation was long ago. You may have people with ties to the 'home' planet, but many individuals who have never been there and want the capital to be somewhere with more resources (assuming the home planet is becoming somewhat exhausted). If there is rebellion, a new capital will likely be formed in the richest location held by the rebels, as government needs resources to function and for protection.

Or maybe the colonies operated on their own for a while before joining back into an empire. In this scenario, there may well have been a vote. You could draw parallels with young federal democracies - the US and Australia.

As noted in another answer on this page, the US capital is not in a great position but was located where it is to be independent of the states.

The Australian capital Canberra is likewise located in no-man's land - an artificially located city in the mountains between the two states most powerful at the time of federation. The only people who live or work there are part of the government, and the city is rather small.

Your capital, if placed by election of federating systems, may well be placed in an otherwise uninhabited system close enough to economic hubs to be useful, but in a location that noone needs to go to apart from running the government. It makes security a bit easier if there is no usual through traffic.

In terms of Star Wars, think you could use the security planet in Rogue One as an example. Low population focused on a single task, secure, out of the way. (yes this wasn't a seat of government, but it reminds me of Canberra other than the beaches).

Once you've written the history of your galaxy, it might be clear that the capital would have been located in different places at different times in history.

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At none of these places forever, but at all of them for some time each.

Assumption: Based on your mention of Star Wars I took the liberty to assume a similarly structured universe/empire. Thus you will likely divide your realm into smaller regions/counties/cantons that will each have a local capital responsible for day-to-day government, etc1. These stellar-regions will then be governed by your central government.

Now instead of creating a fix seat of government, you have it moving between the regional capitals. Thus every region will be seat of the government once in a while and the officials have it easier to address local issues as they're where the action's at.


On Regional Capitals: While we have decided that the Capital of the Universe shall not be fixed, but moving between the capitals of its stellar-regions, the question arises:
 Where are the capitals of these smaller regions?

That hugely depends on the internal structure of the empire. Depending on the amount of autonomy granted to the stellar-regions there's two extreme cases to consider:

Absolute Empire: There's almost no autonomy for the stellar-regions, their capitals are in the stellarographical2 center of each region, resulting in an approximation of spheres for each region with artificially generated prosperity at the center due to the location of government.
This would allows for even travel-times between the capital of a region and their outermost stars.

Loose Confederation: The stellar-regions are left to themselves for their internal decision-making and the galactic government will busy itself with managing inter-regional affairs as well as supra-galactic matters. The capitals of each region will likely end up wherever there's the most profit to be made, be it due to a planet sitting at the crossroads of many interstellar trading routes, or on a planet being the only source of a very exotic good the rest of the galaxy is keen on buying.
This can, at the worst, lead to some star-systems being almost cut off from their capitals, which is a point you mention in your question. This issue could be counteracted by reassigning systems to other regions, creating smaller fringe regions, or even splitting the whole region down another level.

All-in-all there's sadly no perfect answer of: Put every capital at that location, but it rather needs a gauging of each region and its members. Some regions might profit from having the capital at their stellarographic centerpoint, others will benefit from their capital in a dense cluster at the rimward end of their dominion.

Nonetheless, the advantage we gain from a moving galactic capital allows us to actually handle each region on a case-by-case basis as we can break down our big problem to smaller problems where the negative impact can be more easily off-set and handled.


This idea is not new at all. I rather cheekily stole it from my home country of Switzerland, where this was a practice back when the country was younger and more or less a confederation.

1Rinse and repeat until you've got the desired granularity
2A pun on the words stellar and geographical; I don't know why I felt the need to explain that

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  • $\begingroup$ I think that like Pᴇᴛᴇ's answer, this kind of dodges the question. Where, then, should regional capitals be? $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 20 '16 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 let me add a paragraph on that (based on what I remember from history classes ;)) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Dec 20 '16 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ As neologisms go, "stellarographic" is etymologically impure. "Astrographic" would be a better choice as both component words to form the new word have Greek roots. Another choice is "galactographic", but that applies more to galaxy scaled entities than regional associations of stars for which you coined your neologism. Nice effort for trying though. $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 21 '16 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android I really don't see the issue you're referring to. At some point someone needs to deviate from what everyone else does. Otherwise we'll eventually stagnate. $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Dec 21 '16 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ The point is more about the good use of language even when inventing new words. Basically it's about preserving clarity to avoid the obfuscation of unknowing. There are good reasons why, on many occasions, such people are called "deviants." :) $\endgroup$ – a4android Dec 21 '16 at 12:05
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My first intention was to say, put it in the middle of the galaxy, but will result in some minor technical problems, namely very high density of stars making traveling nearly impossible to calculate and a black hole, which is most likely to reside at the center.

The center of the galaxy should be somewhere close to the center and if possible close to major traffic / hyperspace routes. And will cover a whole planet, because unless you will make it a government planet only and put each and every resident on the other planets inside the solar system. You can compare the population of a capitel, e.g. Helsinki with the whole population of Finland and then scale the numbers up to galactic level.

But: One capital for the whole galaxy is a bit optimistic. You have thousands of planets, with each planet sending maybe 10 senators, the chamber of government will be pretty crowded and due to the fact, that they're not just in for the cookies, but real problems, there'll be endless discussions with no fast solutions.

So you also need to establish local governments, cluster based, for example, where only say 100 planet governments are involved. This way, the government is never far away and decisions can be made relatively fast for local issues and galactic wide problems can still be discussed on the main planet.

Edit:

But don't elect a capitol every 4-50 years. Moving a capital from one planet to the other is a really, really big effort in finance and security. Germany had this in the past, because the Federal Republic had the capital Bonn and they decided to move back to Berlin in the 1990s.

It was a hell of a mess and isn't yet completed. Now imagine this in a galaxy ration, where you also have to keep business running during the move.

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Nowhere/Oxymoron

A pan-galactic society would presumably have FTL travel, hence FTL communications and thus no need for a capital location.

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  • $\begingroup$ That is a great point. And in fact the shadowy league of shadows that runs the show would probably not want their positions known at all. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Dec 23 '16 at 22:20
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What is the Capital? What is the structure of the government? How autonomic the planets are?

I assume that the republic takes a role where it leaves planets highly autonomic, because you can see that already with federations built of states like USA, Russia, even at the size of Germany. Although it varies which tasks are left to the states. What is the identity of the people? Best comparison would be EU vs. USA. No one in EU thinks that they are an european, that is not even a word, but in USA it would be similarly absurd for the person from California to say that he is a californian.

I do not think that a capital is necessarily the economic center; think for example Washington D.C. and New York. As a political center normal people have no need to travel there, so it may stay anywhere. Of course if the republic has enemies, it would make sense to maximize the minimum travel to capital from the edge of the galaxy.

During Napoleonic era forts were placed within central strategic locations. Bit similar to military bases nowadays, but more concrete in a few way of interpretation :D. They were massive investments, which greatly increased the military presence of a nation. If your republic would have few such, it would not need to centralize its military power in a one location.

Business centers are likely to be born close to materials. This is if we do not assume a path dependency that some state would have superior infrastructure for refining just because of that state having been rich previously.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, i feel European. And it is a word. $\endgroup$ – Burki Dec 21 '16 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ European is a word and millions of people from EU countries identify themselves as European specially if they come from a small not-so-popular EU country they simply say its in Europe. $\endgroup$ – Rolen Koh Dec 22 '16 at 9:34
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Ideally you'd select a planet in a Multi-stellar cluster to maximise daylight hours. This will likely be a political/economic center rather than a residential, after all.

At the same time, you'd do well to elect a planet with a large amount of moons - the more the better. Not only do high-mass satelites improve the orbital stability of the core body, but they also provide room for expansion and a minor form of protection from stray killer-meteors by providing a network of deflecting gravity slings.

Finally, you'd do well to pick a planet that is located at least semi-centrally while putting effort into building any other large outposts near the galactic rim. This will be the most effective way to balance the spatial appeal evenly across the whole empire.

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If only one specie:

Then probably their planet of origin could be a fair choice as it will have all the natural support for most sustainable life. Also the species would be more aware of the environment and the laws of physics and the nature. This gives the planet of origin an edge over other planets where life sustainable conditions have to be pretty much artificial.

In case of an inter-species galaxy(several species spread across the galaxy):

In this case the most collaborated and sustainable places can be chosen to be the capital. Although due to the motions of planets, sun and the galaxy itself, I like the idea of electing a capital after some time. If these planetary motions don't have much or many variations in terms of conditions of sustaining life then setting selecting two or three capitals and each capital working for fixed amount of time could be a good choice.

For example it its too cold in one place for some time but good conditions during some other time, some other planets could be a choice for that duration.

After all races will go to other planets to sustain their life and knowledge.

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If you have sufficiently high technology, why not move the capital planet into some kind of hyperspace bubble. Connect that bubble to the rest of the universe by hyperspace tunnels/wormholes/jump gates.

Makes the capital be placed 'nowhere', but reachable from every major system that has an appropriate jump gate.

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A galactic government would probably be extremely complicated. if the galaxy far, far away is similar to our galaxy the galactic republic will probably control about a hundred billion (100,000,000,000) solar systems with colonies and/or mining operations.

I suspect that the government will have many levels of government. For example there could be 10 sub-presidents under the galactic president, each 10 sub-president in charge of 10,000,000,000 solar systems. There could be 100 sub-sub-presidents each ruling 1,000,000,000 star systems, and under them 1,000 sub-sub-sub-presidents each ruling 100,000,000 star systems, and so on down to 100,000,000,000 sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-presidents each ruling a single star system and their subordinates.

And each government unit in each of those 12 levels of government will have a capital.

I suppose that you could write a 12 books series about an official who starts out working in the capital city of a single star systems and thinks that capital is the most glorious city ever built. And if that system has been colonized for centuries or millennia it's capital city is likely to greater than any city now on Earth. In the next book he works in the capital city of ten star systems and thinks that city must be the greatest ever. And so on in every city he works in. And in every city he works in he is annoyed that some officials who have worked in higher level capital cities think the city he presently works in is some dull little hick town compared to higher level capital cities.

I am only familiar with the US system with merely four levels of government - federal, state, county, and municipal- so I can't imagine the distribution of functions in a government that has 12 levels starting with solar system government at the bottom!

Thus I suppose that only a few functions would be reserved for the central government, and thus there might be only a few trillion bureaucrats and lected officials working at the capital city of the entire galactic republic, and thus it is possible they might all be able to live and work and be outnumbered many times by other people all within the countless billions of space habitats constructed in a single solar system.

Most government officials in the galactic republic would work in the capital cities of the many individual governments in the 11 lower levels of government. Those capital cities would be scattered all over the galaxy and those levels of government would have most government functions. Thus it would not matter much were the central capital was located because the top level of government would have very few functions and thus its capital could be as modest as described in the previous paragraph.

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Capitals move, so lets assume your history allows for resettlement of the capital

Countries on Earth have moved their capitals. The reasons range from the need to mediate organizational bickering to totalitarian vanity to the simple requirements of logistics. So, it's completely legitimate for you to seek the best possible location for your galactic capital.

What you want is a globular star cluster near the center of the galaxy. Far enough away from the center to not be subject to the radioactive rage of the core, but as close as possible to minimize travel (distance wise, and hopefully gravity wise) to all other parts of the galaxy. A cluster not unlike Omega Centauri, but within the galaxy rather than without.

The point is, you want a significant density of stars in a small region such that the galactic capital has access to tremendous resources and reasonably direct control over a substantial population. Why? Because when those pesky rebels at the corners of the empire start chaffing, you want a huge power base to draw from in terms of both men and industry.

To paraphrase historian Shelby Foote. There was never any hope the South could win the U.S. Civil War. The North had so many people and so much industry that it was proverbially fighting with one hand behind its back. Whole regiments in the North survived the entire war without ever hearing a shot fired in anger. Had the South been more successful, the North would have simply brought out that other arm.

That's the kind of leverage you want, and therefore the kind of location. A globular cluster located near the center to minimize travel and maximize resources.

Note, my understanding of globular clusters is, regrettably, limited, and they may fail your test for stability (stellar collisions).

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