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A federation is a large, often multi-ethnic, state originally based on mutual agreement between the participants. Compare with Empire, a term describing a large, multi-ethnic state, whose political structure was originally put together by coercion.

Examples of federal states:

It is arguable that the European Union has some of the attributes of a federal state, although its member states are separate entities under international law, unlike the more traditional examples above. The EU could move towards being a genuine Federation if its character were to evolve from the current confederal, Community structure to decision-making on a federal basis.

In Star Trek, a collection of science fiction works, the Federation is short for United Federation of Planets.

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