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Vulcan is a class-M world orbiting the star 40 Eridani A, approximately 15.9 light years from Earth. It is a large, arid world with a higher gravity and thinner air than most other class-M planets, which gives a greater endurance and strength to native Vulcans, compared with individuals from other planets.
In history, Vulcans were a violent race, with extreme emotions. Their culture was filled with war and violence until Surak, a philosopher, began preaching a means of repressing all emotions through exercises like the Kohlinar rituals. Their legendary strong passions do escape occasionally, such as their mating cycle, "ponn farr", in which every seven years the Vulcan male will lose all emotional control. They have developed a unique means of incapaciting opponents in hand-to-hand combat, utilizing a special nerve / pressure point attack, sometimes called the "Vulcan neck pinch."
Vulcan was actually the birthplace of two cultures: The Romulan (Rihannsu) Star Empire was formed when S'Task, a pupil of Surak's, rejected the philosophy of emotional rejection and left with several followers, settling on the twin worlds of ch'Rihan and ch'Havran (Romulus and Remus).
A founding member of the Federation, Vulcan was admitted in 2161, the same year as its formation. Vulcan has also always been a close ally with Earth, ever since the Vulcans made first contact with the Terrans in 2063. Vulcan is a major seat of scientific and philosophical significance in the Federation.