The flag of the Twelve Colonies in the reimagined series

The Twelve Colonies of Man or Twelve Colonies of Kobol constitute the main human civilization in the fictional universe of the original 1978 science fiction film and television series Battlestar Galactica, and in the subsequent miniseries (2003) and series reimagining (2004).

The colonies

The Twelve Colonies were founded by settlers from Kobol, the birthplace of the human species. In the original series, the twelve tribes of humans settled on twelve different planets in the fictional Cyranus binary solar system. The reimagined series has never made it clear how the worlds of the Twelve Colonies are situated, however producer Ronald D. Moore has suggested that all the colony planets are together in the same star system as described in the original series.

The human population of the twelve colonies (estimated at 20 billion in the 2003 reimagined television series[1]) was virtually exterminated by the Cylons in the The Destruction of the Twelve Colonies. Less than 50,000 human survivors from all twelve colonies managed to escape this holocaust by fleeing the colonies in a fleet of civilian starships led by the Battlestar Galactica.

The names of the colonies are taken from the constellations of the Zodiac:

Constellation Name in the Original Series Name in the 2003 Series
Aquarius unrevealed Aquaria
Aries Aeries Aerelon
Cancer unrevealed (believed Orion) Canceron
Capricorn Caprica Caprica
Gemini Gemoni Geminon
Leo unrevealed Leonis
Libra unrevealed Libris
Pisces Picon Picon
Sagittarius Sagitara Sagittaron
Scorpio Scorpia Scorpia
Taurus Taura Tauron
Virgo Virgon Virgon

Notes on the colonies in the original series

  • The original series' versions of the colonies based on the names Cancer, Leo, Libra and Aquarius were never named. Given the name's negative connotations, the name "Cancer" was substituted for "Orion." Count Baltar was the dictatorial ruler of Orion prior to his betrayal of the Colonies.
  • In either version of the show, many colonies spoke different languages. For example, in the original series, Gemonese was spoken in several scenes (in the Terra arc, 'Terra' is said to be the Gemonese term for 'Earth').
  • In the original series pilot (and novelization), Adama remarked that Sagitara had "the best defence systems in the Colonies."

Notes on the colonies in the re-imagined series

  • All colonies speak the same language, but apparently have different accents or dialects.
  • The people of Gemenon are deeply religious and believe in the literal interpretation of the scriptures. They abhor the practice of abortion; however, Colonial law allows it to occur.
  • Sagittaron is seen as a neglected and disenfranchised member of the colonies, oppressed for several centuries (whether by external or domestic tyrants is not made clear). They do not believe in modern medicine and handle sickness and injury with traditional cures and prayers.
  • Gemenon, Sagittaron, and Aerelon are regarded as "poor colonies" where most of the inhabitants worked in harsh blue-collar jobs while the colonies of Caprica, Tauron and Virgon contained a more elite and educated social class who worked administrative and professional white-collar jobs. Caprica, being the capital of the Colonies, is especially cosmopolitan, and the religious attitudes of Capricans are in stark contrast with those of Gemenon and Sagittaron.
  • Aerelon is primarily a farming colony and is referred to by Gaius Baltar as the "foodbasket" of the Twelve Colonies. When portraying Baltar's "native" accent, James Callis adopts a Yorkshire accent as it is an accent that can be stereotypically associated with people who come from a working class background and thus fit the image that his character was trying to project of life on Aerelon as a backward agricultural planet

Relative locations

Executive producer Ron Moore has stated that as a nod to the original series, each of the Twelve Colonies is one of 12 planets in a single solar system[citation needed].

In the Battlestar Galactica video game, published in 2003, just prior to the release of the reimagined series, the colonies were in one star system called "Cyrannus". The name "Cyrannus" was used in the original series episode "The Long Patrol", but was used by the character Starbuck as the name of the galaxy, not a single star system, although as with most SF shows of that era, much of the terminology used is obscure and self-contradictory. It appears as if the authors were themselves frequently unclear as to what the difference between a solar system and a galaxy were. As yet, the name "Cyrannus" has not been used in the reimagined series.

In the 1978 series, the Colonies were very obviously set in a binary star system, and distinguished between "Inner" and "Outer" colonies. "Inner" colonies orbited the primary star in the system, and "Outer" colonies orbited the other one, though both appeared to be G2 class stars from what little information was visible onscreen. The inner colonies - including Sagitaria and Caprica - were attacked first. By the time the Galactica arrived, the Cylons were already launching their first wave against the outer colonies.

In the novelization of the pilot for the 1978 series, the Twelve Colonies are referred to as "The Twelve Colonies of the Three Suns."

Colonial government

1978 series

The Quorum of the Twelve (sometimes called the "Council of the Twelve") is the main governing body of the Twelve Colonies. There are twelve members, each representing one colony. There is a president of the Twelve Colonies, who acts as the head of state. There is also a Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The President and civilian government lead the Colonies, unless martial law is declared. After the death of President Adar and the death of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Colonial remnants, under the protection of the Battlestar Galactica were placed under martial law by Commander Adama, the last surviving member of the Pre-Destruction Quorum. Count Baltar, a member of the Quorum who survived due to his treachery, was presumably stripped of his rank in absentia for his gross betrayal of humanity. The Quorum has the power to repeal martial law itself, but after a disastrous attempt at reestablishing civilian rule in the "rag-tag fleet," such matters were dropped for the present.

There is no death penalty, even for treason. The maximum punishment is life imprisonment. Officers of the court in criminal proceedings include 'Opposers' (prosecutors) and 'Advocates' (defense attorneys).

The Colonial military

The Colonial military is divided into at least three branches:

  • The Colonial Fleet is the first line of defense against Cylon invasion. This force of Battlestars and Vipers has held the Cylons at bay and can easily outwit superior Cylon numbers with human ingenuity; Fleet personnel are renowned for their bravery and prowess in warfare in the Colonies and beyond. The various divisions of Fleet personnel are as follows:
    • Starship officers, such as Commander Adama and Colonel Tigh. They wear blue uniforms.
    • Enlisted starship crew typically dress in light brown jumpsuits.
    • Colonial Warriors, the Viper pilots and ground troops of the Colonies, wear light brown uniforms with darker brown uniform jackets. These are specially designed to protect them from g-forces experienced in Viper launch operations.
  • The Colonial Marine Corps is the ground component of colonial forces which is tasked for internal security of ships from Colonial Fleet, ground assault and ship boarding operations.
  • Colonial Security Forces are officers clad in black who form a catch-all police force, under the direct control of the Quorum of the Twelve. Their jurisdiction appears to cover both civilian and military police roles. They are nicknamed "blackshirts". There appears to be some animosity between Colonial Warriors and the security forces (which also carry the same pistols as Colonial Warriors), especially, when security officers attempt to force Warriors to adhere to Council edicts that the Warriors believe to be ridiculous or naive. [1]

2003 Series

In the 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica, the Colonial government is somewhat different. Referred to officially as "the United Colonies of Kobol," the government was established under the Articles of Colonization. There is a Presidency, and a "Political Cabinet" (which include the ministries of Defense and Education), with each ministry headed by a secretary. The Secretary of Education is the 43rd in the order of succession. There is a death penalty, and executions for treason include being vented into space, a punishment implemented by President Laura Roslin and continued by President Tom Zarek during his brief term. The military conducts execution of its personnel via firing squad. Local government includes mayors, of whom President Adar was one before his first term as President of the Twelve Colonies. The Colonial Government appears to include some form of civil religion.

The Quorum of the Twelve (see Quorum of Twelve) does exist in the series (an interim one is established a month into the exodus) but its structure and purpose is different. The Quorum's sessions are presided by the President of the Twelve Colonies, who may cast a vote in case of a draw. Each Colony gets a single vote. The functions of the Quorum of Twelve include taking nominations for and electing the Vice President - whether this is common practice or an emergency attribution in the case of a vacant Vice Presidency is not known. Quorum members may run for the Vice Presidency, but must resign their Quorum seat if elected. Given that the Colonies used to be independent nations until a few decades before the Cylon Attack, the Quorum of Twelve is described as a mixture between the United States Senate and the UN Security Council.

In his blog, Battlestar Galactica's producer Ronald D. Moore has indicated that the Colonial government presumably included a larger, still unnamed representative body (most likely the People's Council mentioned in Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II) and an independent judiciary system, as well as another (also unnamed) religious body with an advisory function.

The differences in Colonial government in the 2003 remake stem from the fact that Cylons were created by Man as servants and soldiers, though there are no alien races. The production team has established that the Cylons were used as soldiers in wars between the Twelve Colonies. Indeed, while the Exodus from Kobol was 2,000 years before the final Cylon defeat of the Twelve Colonies in the TV series, the "Articles of Colonization" are stated as being only 52 years old, framed in the early days of the First Cylon War which went on for another 12 years. As such, the Colonial Government made up of the Presidency and the Quorum was meant to be less of a unified one as seen in the original series and more of an alliance of independent members, like NATO or the United Nations. This is evidenced by statements that different colonies had entirely different governments and laws; for example, Sagittaron was ruled by a corrupt military dictatorship. Further, it is stated that Sagittaron law allows a convict that has served their sentence to regain citizenship, implying that all of the colonies were not ruled by the same law. Another example is that according to Gemenon religious law, children are the property of their parents and abortion is an obscenity.

Colonial Military

The Colonial military appears to be made of at least two branches.

  • The Colonial Fleet, which operated a force of about 120 Battlestars and several support vessels. The Colonial Fleet was organized around "Battlestar Groups", such as Battlestar Group 75 (from which Galactica receives its BSG-75 designator). These groups were possibly composed of a single Battlestar protected and supported by smaller vessels, including, but not limited to, Viper and Raptor squadrons. The Colonial Fleet has a mixed Navy/Marine Corps rank system: Admiral; Commander; Colonel; Major; Captain; Lieutenant; Lieutenant, j(unior) g(rade); Ensign. Non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel also have a mixed Navy/Marine Corps rank system, referred to as a "Naval-style rank system" by detailed by Ronald D. Moore (a former Marine Option Midshipman) in his blog: Master Chief Petty Officer, Chief Petty Officer, Petty Officer 1st and 2nd Class, Specialist, Deckhand and Recruit.
  • The Colonial Marine Corps, a specialized ship-based ground force operating onboard the ships of the Colonial Fleet. Marines are used for strike actions and for security purposes such as repelling boardings and maintaining a ship's brig. The role the Marine Corps may have played in planetary defense is still not known, or even if there was a separate Colonial Army for that role. Marine non-commissioned and enlisted personnel use regular Marine rank titles; whether their officers use the same mixed rank structure as Colonial Fleet officers is not known, as no Marine officer has so far been shown.

Due to a lack of a police force within the fleet, both Naval and Marine personnel also serve as law enforcement officials as necessary. According to Ronald D. Moore's own podcast commentary for the episode Kobol's Last Gleaming, the plainclothed Presidential Security Force is intentionally separate from the military, with its members culled from any and all surviving police officers within the fleet.

External links


  1. In the BSG Webisode series Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance released in 2006 between seasons 2 and 3, Colonel Saul Tigh states that the Cylons "burned up 20 billion of us." (

See also