Easily recognizable by their pale grey skin and heavily ridged neck, 
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the Cardassians are evolved from reptilian ancestors. They prefer a darker more humid environment than Human beings, although they can tolerate Human living standards if necessary.  Cardassian hearing is not as acute as that of Humans. 
Cardassian history tends to consist of extremes; once a peaceful and spiritual people, their planet's poor resources proved unable to support their expanding population and starvation and disease became rampant. Millions of deaths resulted, leading to a general breakdown in the government. The military forces of the planet staged a take-over and launched several wars against their neighbours in order to secure new resources. Although further millions where lost in these wars, the military government did succeed in stabilizing the situation on Cardassia.  In 2347 the Cardassians invaded Setlik III,  believing it to be a base to be used in an invasion of their own territory by the Federation. A prolonged period of tension resulted. In 2355 the Federation dispatched a Constellation class starship in an attempt to make peace, but the Cardassians rejected the offer and forced the ship to flee.  Hostilities briefly flared again in 2367 when Captain Maxwell launched unauthorised attacks on several Cardassian ships, but Captain Picard was able to stabilise the situation.  In 2372 a civilian uprising deposed the military government. Suspecting Dominion involvement in the coup, the Klingons launched an invasion of Cardassia; the Federation opposed this action and was successful in forcing the Klingons to halt their advance into Cardassia, although this destroyed the Federation-Klingon alliance and resulted in a short period of hostilities between those two powers.  The Federation shipped considerable aid to the devastated Cardassian government.  Humiliated by having to rely on charity from a former enemy after a relatively quick and easy defeat at the hands of the Klingons, Gul Dukat led a Dominion take-over of Cardassia and was installed as ruler of the region in 2373.  Cardassian forces subsequently fought alongside the Jem'Hadar in the Dominion War, but this alliance was never a very strong one.  When Gul Dukat was captured by the Federation during the retaking of Deep Space Nine,  leadership fell to Damar.  Damar was less than enamoured with his Dominion masters, a situation made worse when the Breen joined the Dominion.  Relations continued to sour, to the point where Damar attempted to break away from Dominion rule.  In reprisal the Dominion destroyed a Cardassian city, hoping to terrorize the homeworld into submission. When news reached the front lines the Cardassian fleet turned on the Dominion en masse, helping to inflict a devastating defeat upon them. In retaliation the Founders ordered the Jem'Hadar to murder as many Cardassian citizens as possible, and in the final hours of the war Cardassia Prime was devastated.  In the aftermath of the war the Cardassians are faced with a colossal task in rebuilding their shattered Union. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to form a more civilized government in the process.