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This article is for the PC version of Stellaris only.

An Empire is a group of planets and star systems that are ruled by the same government and controlled by a single player. Empires may have a variety of governments such as a democracy, republic, oligarchy, or imperial rule.

Ethics are the most defining features of a space empire; they affect the behavior of AI empires, likely technologies, available policies and edicts, valid government types, the opinions of other empires, and - perhaps most importantly - provide the fuel for internal strife in large and diverse empires.[1]

It should be noted that the name of the player empire can always be changed in the government window.


The capital is the ruling seat of an empire. Initially the homeworld of the primary species, an empire's capital can be moved once every 10 years for a cost of 250 Influence.png influence. An empire's capital +100% Mod pop government ethic attraction.png governing ethics attraction as well as the option to build the Empire Capital-Complex (moving the capital downgrades it).

An empire's capital planet and system feature star corners on the system and galaxy maps.

Core systems

Core systems are the systems whereby planets are directly managed by the player. All core planets are administrated by the same governor leader and receive its bonuses. A policy determines whether aliens and slaves can inhabit the core worlds.

The base number of core sector systems is 3. It can be increased via the following:

  • +2 Pacifist.png Pacifist ethic
  • +4 Fanatic Pacifist.png Fanatic Pacifist ethic
  • +2 Civic efficient bureaucracy.png Efficient Bureaucracy civic
  • +2 Menu icon traditions.png finishing the expansion tradition tree
  • +1 Colonial Bureaucracy technology
  • +1 Galactic Bureaucracy technology
  • +1 Administrative Efficiency technology (repeatable tech)
  • +2 Civic divided attention.png Divided Attention civic (Hive Minds only)
  • +5 Ap imperial prerogative.png Imperial Prerogative ascension perk
  • +2 Gestalt consciousness.png Gestalt Consciousness ethic

If the number of directly controlled systems exceeds this limit the empire gets the modifier “Inefficient Planet Management” with the following effects:

  • Influence.png −10% monthly influence
  • Energy Credits.png −10% energy credits

At or before this point, it is best to start delegating excess planets into Sectors. Since a single star-system may contain multiple colonized planets, it is logical for every empire to retain control of systems with multiple inhabited planets.

The empire capital system is always part of the core systems and cannot be transferred to sectors.


A Sector is a semi-independent administrative region under the control of a Governor.[2] It will govern itself, though the empire remains responsible for the defense and protection of its sectors and can issue some priorities and orders to the sector government.

Each sector has its own stock of Energy Credits.png energy and Minerals.png minerals. These stocks will be filled with sources within the sector's borders, except that some of its income may be sent to the national stockpile depending on what tax level is selected for it. The sector's source of income can be taxed 0/25/50/75% respectively. Energy and Minerals are taxed separately. For 100 Influence.png influence, the sector can be drained of 75% of their stockpiled resources. The cost is reduced to 25 influence during defensive wars. Research.png Research, Unity.png Unity, and Strategic.png Strategic resources income go to the empire regardless of tax. Sectors ignore the influence cost of buildings so that it can upgrade the capital buildings from ship shelter up to a planetary capital if the other requirements are met. Frontier outposts controlled by sectors do continue to cost imperial Influence to maintain.

Sectors remain an integrated part of the empire, but handle development of planets and the construction of stations and defensive armies within their region themselves. What exactly they build is influenced by the focus set for them: balanced (no special focus), agricultural (focusing on food), industrial (focusing on minerals), research (focusing on researching) and financial (focusing on energy). They can be permitted or forbidden to replace existing buildings, requested to respect existing resource deposits, build military stations, robots, stations, spaceports, civilian ships, or to colonize planets available within the sector's borders.

The exact limit for direct control of planets depends on various factors, such as government type and technologies. Sectors are created by clicking on the empire tab at the top left of the screen. Sectors can be created and removed at will and assigned a name. The sector's capital will be the first planet added to the sector. Star systems can be added to and exchanged between sectors at any time, but each sector must always be a single contiguous region of connected space. If a sector becomes non-contiguous due to conquest or other actions a penalty will be assessed on its production (-25% to Research.pngEnergy Credits.pngMinerals.pngFood.png).

The technologies to increase the maximum number core worlds and sectors are both techs that may be researched repeatedly, although at increasing cost. Sector limit gets increased by 1 for every 4 owned planets.

There is no limit to the number of stars within a given sector.


As an empire grows, it will increase its sphere of influence around the star systems in its immediate area. This area, shaded on the galaxy map in the empire's color, represents an empire's territory. Civilian stations may only be built and exploited within this sphere of influence. If the empire's borders expand or contract, any civilian station in gained or lost star systems will change ownership accordingly.

The sphere of influence is expanded by building colonies or frontier outposts in star systems near the edge of or outside your sphere of influence. If you build one too far from your borders, your sphere of influence may not be contiguous. Also, certain technologies will increase the empire's sphere of influence.

Border spread works volumetrically. As an empire becomes more dense and grows, its borders also appear to spill outward. Removing colonies or frontier outposts from within the empire's well-established borders may affect the outer border unpredictably.

The border range can be increased empire-wide via the following:

  • +15% Xenophobe.png Xenophobe ethic
  • +30% Fanatic Xenophobe.png Fanatic Xenophobe ethic
  • +10% Civic nationalistic zeal.png Nationalistic Zeal civic
  • +20% Menu icon traditions.pngadopting the Supremacy tradition tree
  • +20% Galactic Ambitions technology
  • +25% Ap interstellar dominion.png Interstellar Dominion ascension perk

Due to the 3D nature of the galaxy, systems can appear to be in an empire but actually not. The more precise way to check for border belonging is to look at the projection of the system represented by the hexagon. If you prefer, you may move the camera to a straight-on angle by dragging with the right mouse button.


Newly colonized planets begin with an initially small border, expanding slowly with time. Colony borders are further expanded by 15% for each Pop beyond 1.

Frontier Outposts

Frontier Outposts can be built on any surveyed star using a construction ship. Expanding the borders by building too many frontier outposts may be seen as hostile by neighboring species.

Frontier Outposts have a base cost of 200 Minerals.png minerals and 100 Influence.png influence to build, with the Influence.png influence cost increasing according to how far away the outpost is relative to your empire's current borders. In addition, they require 3 Energy Credits.png energy and 1 Influence.png influence per month to maintain. The Expansion tree's Reach for the Stars tradition (halved the distance cost increase) and Galactic Ambition (upkeep reduced by -50%) may help with that.


Borders are crucial, especially during the initial stages of the game when they can be used to secure planets for future colonization during the period when colonization is not yet possible. Border growth can also provide additional mining resources as well as inhibit the potential expansion of other empires. Frontier outposts, despite the hefty influence costs, are the easiest way to secure large borders, and should be the primary influence dump early game. They can be eventually disbanded once planets can sustain the respective borders.

Borders expand and contract throughout the game based on many different factors. These border changes are taking place constantly as you and your governors make decisions. Therefore, it is possible that there may be resource-rich systems that quietly come under your control as your empire gains power and its borders dynamically expand. Because you are not notified when new systems are acquired as part of this silent border expansion, you should frequently examine critical border sections to look for new colonization and exploitation opportunities.

The converse (losing systems due to AI empires establishing colonies/ frontier outposts at border areas where your empire's presence is weak) is true as well.

Victory conditions

Victory conditions are predefined goals that ensure victory of the game.

There are three ways to achieve victory in Stellaris:

  • Domination, which requires you to own 40% of all colonizable planets. Planets owned by vassals count but those owned by allies, Federation members and tributaries do not.
  • Conquest, which requires you to conquer or subjugate all other empires. Fallen empires do not need to be conquered.
  • Federation, which require the federation which you're a part of to own 60% of all colonizable planets.

Any empire, even an AI empire, can end up meeting the victory conditions, though the AI ignores their existence and may thus only win as a result of other priorities. However, if an empire is a vassal or protectorate, they cannot claim victory under any circumstance.

The game can be continued even after an empire claims victory.


Game concepts
Governance EmpireEthicsGovernmentCivicsPoliciesEdictsLeaderFactionsPopulationSpecies rightsEconomyTechnologyTraditionsCrime
Exploration ExplorationMapSpeciesAnomalyEventsFTLFallen empirePre-FTL speciesPrecursorsSpaceborne aliens
Colonization ColonizationCelestial bodyPlanetary featuresPlanetary managementDistrictsBuildingsShipStarbaseMegastructures
Diplomacy DiplomacyTradeSubject empireFederationsGalactic communityAI personalities
Warfare WarfareSpace warfareLand warfareShip designer
Others TraitsTerraformingPop modificationSlaveryCrisisPreset empiresAI playersEaster eggs