|Points of Interest|
The Alpha Quadrant is the designation for one-quarter of the galaxy, adjacent to the Beta Quadrant and the Gamma Quadrant. The designation originated with the United Federation of Planets, who defined the Sol System as the border between the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Half of Federation territory lies in the Alpha Quadrant, with the Cardassian Union and the Tholian Assembly as the two next large and powerful governments. The Federation has explored less than half of the quadrant, though much of this space consists of the distant galactic rim.
It is worth noting that the collective powers of the Alpha and Beta Quadrant have often been referred to solely as the 'Alpha Quadrant,' most notably in engagements with the Dominion of the Gamma Quadrant. Such a colloquial term has historically referred to the geopolitical landscape of the Federation, the Klingon Empire, the Old Romulan Star Empire, and sometimes the Cardassian Union, as intersecting powers exerting influence on one another.
The Alpha Quadrant has been largely more stable than the Beta for the United Federation of Planets since its founding. Many of its early members came from its sectors, and until the mid-24th century, it was home to no more than skirmishes between its powers. While the Federation-Cardassian wars of the 2340s-60s were not insignificant, they still paled in comparison to the importance the Federation placed on maintaining security on the Romulan border. For most of modern history, the Alpha Quadrant has been home to neighbours the Federation often deems hostile, but not worthy of significant attention.
The discovery of the Bajoran Wormhole tilted this axis of power, as did the ensuing Dominion War and its preceding tensions. Between the war and the subsequent rebuilding of Cardassia, the Federation poured more resources and effort into the Alpha Quadrant in ten years than it had in a hundred. But this investment was short-lived, the collapse of the Romulan Star System diverting attention and the Attack on Mars turning the Federation insular.
For fifteen years, the Alpha Quadrant has remained the home of some of the Federation's most truculent neighbours. Almost none of them are capable of directly opposing the Federation, or - in the case of the Tholian Assembly lack the desire. But the withdrawal of Starfleet from its borders to its core worlds has made the Quadrant only more volatile for Federation members and colonies. Where the Beta Quadrant has historically seen the three major powers balance each other out, many of the minor powers of the Alpha Quadrant are perhaps at their most aggressive and powerful, while the Tholians and Federation lack the will to keep them in check, and the Cardassians the capacity. This is most notably seen with the rising Breen hostility against the Federation since early 2399.