The Cardassians are a humanoid race native to Cardassia Prime. They are easily recognized by the neckline that fans out to connect with the shoulders, and by the pronounced facial ridges. Two thick vertical ridges recede back to the crown of the head with an inverted tear-shaped ridge in the center of the forehead. The area above the eyes are it where the ridge is thickest, making Cardassian eyes look deep-set. Most Cardassian men have poker straight hair with jet-black to dark brown shades that are slicked back as inconspicuously as possible while the women have more varying hair-types. Society:Cardassians value family and relation above all else. Orphans are shunned and left to die while households with several generations living together are considered an honorable distinguishment. The education system implemented on Cardassia dictates that intellectual pursuits begin at the young age of 3 or 4. Every Cardassian is raised with an appreciation of fine arts and culture, though the government may not be like-minded in its policies. Educational attainment is regarded as a major source of social status and a creative force in Cardassian society, creating the knowledge that embraces existing social and political structures. The Cardassians are known for their photographic memories and the ability to resist a Vulcan mind meld. They pride themselves on resourcefulness and often say of themselves:

Acceptable social behavior dictates that men and women court with outward irritability, and the deceased are honored with elaborate rites that do not permit offworlders to view the body. Cardassian society has the most rigid of all legal systems. All suspects are guilty before even appearing in court, an emphatic display of the futility of crime in Cardassia.

The Depata Council rules the Cardassian Union, and legally administers to the Cardassian Central Command and the Obsidian Order, Cardassia's secret intelligence agency. However, the Central Command and the Obsidian Order function autonomously and do not report to the Depata Council. It is the military Central Command that has the firmest grip on power in Cardassia.