Humans, from the planet Earth, are the newest sentient species of notable size to enter the galactic stage and are the most rapidly expanding and developing. They independently discovered a Prothean data cache on Mars in 2148, and the mass relay networks shortly thereafter.
Humans have a fairly robust physiology. Their internal makeup and reproductive processes are typical of most bipedal mammals, and their size and proportions give the appearance of being strong, fast and agile. In comparison to the Council races, humans are roughly physically on par with turians (as a human in or around peak physical condition can overwhelm a similarly fit turian, making them near equals in a hand-to-hand combat situation), and less agile than asari (whom they closely resemble). Humans would appear on average to be stronger than salarians but not as fast, due to the extremely elevated metabolisms of the latter.
Like most organic races, humans are also capable of producing biotic individuals. All cases of natural biotics in humans are the result of pre-natal exposure to element zero, which carries a high risk of medical complications.
Humans can live to about 150 years, and recent medical advances have eradicated almost all known diseases that afflict them. Humans reach physical maturity at approximately eighteen years of age, at which point they have usually finished their academic education and either directly enter the workforce or begin training for a profession.
It has been noted that humans are unusual in the galactic community because they have far greater genetic diversity compared to other species with more peaks and valleys. This makes human genetic material useful in biological experiments, as a control group.
Despite the substantial genetic diversity of humans, certain physical traits have been becoming rarer ever since the 19th and 20th centuries, when the mixing of different Earth ethnicities, due to social progression and acceptance, became more commonplace. To this end, with the merging of genetics, certain traits have declined in frequency. Recessive physical traits like blonde and red hair, as well as blue and green eyes, are even less common in the 22nd century.
Human space exploration began in earnest in the late 21st century. In 2069 CE, Armstrong Outpost in Shackleton Crater on Luna was founded as humanity's first extraterrestrial settlement. In 2103, the European Space Agency established Lowell City in Eos Chasma on Mars, paving the way for additional settlements and scientific outposts throughout Sol, such as Gagarin Station near Pluto, which was under construction by 2142.
In the early years, however, some were dissatisfied with the pace of official exploration, leading to a series of private ventures. In 2070, billionaire Victor Manswell began funding his own extrasolar colonization endeavor. The Manswell Expedition, as it became known, successfully launched five years later with 300 cryogenically-frozen colonists bound for the Alpha Centauri system, but communications with the expedition's ship were soon lost and the colonists classified as missing. The pre-FTL expedition was forgotten until 2186, when the colonists were discovered alive and well on a planet in Alpha Centauri by an asari exploration team.
Discovery of Mass Effect Physics
In 2148, human explorers on Mars uncovered a long-ruined Prothean observation post, with a surviving data cache that proved Protheans had studied Cro-Magnon humans millennia ago. While religions tried to assimilate this discovery into their doctrine, a global rush began to decipher the petabytes of data from the outpost. Discovering information on a mass relay orbiting Pluto, explorers managed to open the Charon Relay and discovered it led to Arcturus. With the help of the fledgling Systems Alliance, humans expanded to other systems, opening any mass relays they could find.
The First Contact War and Expansion
Humans first came to the attention of the galactic community after a brief but intense conflict with the turians, known by humans as the First Contact War, begun in 2157. The conflict began when the turians attacked a human fleet attempting to activate a dormant mass relay (illegal under Council law) and then occupied the human colony of Shanxi.
Led by Admiral Kastanie Drescher, the Second Fleet then launched a massive counter-attack, which caught the turians by surprise and expelled them from Shanxi. The conflict caught the attention of the Citadel Council, which wasted no time brokering a peace, thus introducing humans to the galactic community. As a consequence of the Alliance's swift and decisive action during the First Contact War, the Alliance became the representative and supranational governing body of humanity. Since then, humans have rapidly risen in prominence.
In 2165, humanity was granted an embassy on the Citadel in recognition of their growing power and influence in the galactic community. The timing of this achievement, less than a decade after first contact, caused some friction with other Citadel races who had waited decades for such recognition.
Humanity continued to expand to unclaimed star systems on the edge of Citadel space, which eventually led to competition with the batarians. When the batarians tried and failed to convince the Council to declare the Skyllian Verge "a zone of batarian interest", they closed their embassy and withdrew from Citadel space. Viewing humans as the cause of their fall from grace, batarians frequently came into conflict with human colonies, especially batarian slavers. Tensions between humans and batarians persist for decades.
The Eden Prime War
Humans were caught off-guard by the geth attack on Eden Prime, humanity's most prosperous colony, in 2183. Systems Alliance forces and the legendary Commander Shepard were involved in several operations against geth incursions into Alliance territory. The conflict between the Systems Alliance and geth later became known as the Eden Prime War, and culminated in the Battle of the Citadel, where a massive invasion fleet led by the flagship Sovereign tore through Citadel defenses. With the timely aid of the Alliance's Fifth Fleet, the geth were defeated. Depending on Commander Shepard's actions, the Council is saved and the Systems Alliance granted a Council seat, or the Council perishes and the Alliance forms a new Council. Thanks to their efforts in the Battle of the Citadel, humanity rises to a new level of prominence in the galaxy.
Less than two years after the Battle of the Citadel, contact with some human colonies in the Terminus Systems is lost. Investigations reveal that the colonies' inhabitants have completely disappeared, with no trace of what happened to them. The Systems Alliance does little to intervene; with no explanation for the disappearances, the Alliance is unable to prevent further incidents. Humans on fringe colony worlds perceive the lack of action as an unwillingness to aid them, and begin to harbor resentment against the Alliance. The Alliance tries to rebuild trust through goodwill efforts, such as providing Horizon with new anti-starship defense turrets, but suspicion lingers.
The colony abductions cease just as mysteriously as they began. While the Alliance publicly blames the abductions on Terminus Systems slaver rings, the fate of the thousands of missing colonists is never conclusively resolved.
The Reaper War
In 2186, the Reapers invade the galaxy through batarian space and storm human territory. Numerous human colonies go dark, but the nature of the threat remains unknown until the Reapers arrive at Earth. Their assault rapidly overwhelms the Alliance Navy and Earth's military forces. With Earth fallen, Admiral Steven Hackett orders the remaining Alliance forces to retreat. Throughout the war, the majority of human worlds remain under Reaper control as they begin their harvest. Millions of humans perish.
After Commander Shepard unites the galaxy to fight the Reapers and the Crucible is constructed, the Alliance leads the charge to take back Earth. As the galaxy's Allied Sword fleet engages the Reapers in Earth's orbit, Hammer ground forces land and coordinate with resistance forces led by Admiral David Anderson. The offensive suffers massive casualties, but succeed in getting Shepard and Anderson to the Citadel, which the Reapers had moved to Earth for safekeeping after learning of the Crucible. Shepard opens the Citadel's arms, the Crucible is attached, and that Commander makes a crucial decision that affects the fate of the galaxy.
Humans are generally seen to be very intelligent, abnormally ambitious, highly adaptable, individualistic and thus, unpredictable. They have a powerful desire to advance and improve themselves, and do so with such assertion that the normally staid Council races have been taken aback by their restlessness and relentless curiosity.
The Earth's economy, while much smaller than any of the Council races, is very powerful relative to their size, and their military prowess is amongst the greatest in the galaxy, despite the fact that only 3% of humans volunteer for the Alliance military, a far smaller proportion than other races. Their ability to engage the turians in the First Contact War demonstrated graphically the potential of human military strength and is therefore a subject of concern for many races, who fear the consequences of another human-turian conflict.
The discovery of the Martian ruins fundamentally united the inhabitants of Earth, resulting in the swift and sudden culmination of the pan-global cultural identity that had been slowly but steadily developing since the 21st century. Upon the foundation of the Systems Alliance, humans began to see themselves as a single, collective group: human as opposed to alien.
Religion was, and to an extent, still is a major part of human culture, despite the fact that society is largely secular by the 22nd century. The discovery of the archives led to a series of commotions among those belonging to fundamentalist faiths, which ultimately resulted in the disintegration or revision of these religious beliefs. In 2171, Pope Clement XVI was assassinated and replaced by Leo XIV, whose beliefs about militarizing humanity and eschatology was aligned more to the ideology of Cerberus. The existence of the Papacy, as well as Cerberus' meddling in Church affairs, suggests that Catholicism maintains a position of prominence religiously and politically in the 22nd century.
Humans have been emulating and assimilating aspects of culture from each other since the dawn of civilization, and the trend continues well into the present day with the growing prevalence of nonhuman civilizations to examine. People who have taken an obsession with dressing like asari, behaving like asari, and fetishizing other hallmarks of the race have been derisively labeled "bluepies", an insult widely known across human space except on the frontiers.
The Gregorian Calendar is still in use by 2186.
The Systems Alliance holds sway over much of the human race, but not all fall under its banner. A few colonies on the fringes of known space are founded on principles of independence, and Earth still has nation-states that administer to their own territories. To the galaxy at large, though, nonhumans are always under the perception that Earth is a unified political entity represented by the Alliance.
- Main article: Systems Alliance
Union of Incorporated Nations
Following the formation of the Systems Alliance in 2149, the Union of Incorporated Nations, or UNIN, grew out of the remnants of the United Nations. Composed of the smaller Earth nations that lacked the power of the 18 countries that initially formed the Alliance, UNIN made up for its inferior wealth, influence, and interplanetary reach by maintaining close ties with a number of Earth-based corporations.
UNIN is powerful enough on Earth that even its minor politicians have substantial bureaucratic shields around them. One of its known agencies is a Scientific Appropriations Committee that's contracted with several research companies ultimately associated with Earth-centrist corporations. While the Alliance effectively prevents other Earth governments from granting planetary-orbit licenses for decades, UNIN has the clout to get multiple space stations approved for its affiliates.
The Systems Alliance has had an embassy on the Citadel since 2165. Many other species dislike humans' sudden ascendancy compared to their status as relative newcomers on the galactic stage. Some species feel that humanity is overly expansive in its colonization efforts and aggressive attempts to advance its position in galactic affairs. It took other species centuries to achieve what humanity has done in decades.
Humans have also been doing what the Council could not: colonize planets in the Attican Traverse, the Skyllian Verge and along the borders of the Terminus Systems, all volatile regions where the Council has little authority. Human forces came into minor conflicts with the batarians over the Verge, which the batarians had been attempting to colonize themselves. When the batarians asked the Council to declare the Verge a "zone of batarian interest", they were refused; in response, the batarians became a rogue state, blaming humans for depriving them of valuable resources, and human-batarian relations have been hostile ever since.
Unlike many species in Citadel space, humans have no close allies among the other races, though they are trade partners with the turians and asari. Without alliances or key political positions, humans have had to follow the edicts of the Council without having much influence on their decisions. Human ambassadors finally had their wishes answered when Shepard was admitted into the Spectres, the Council's elite operatives, and even further when they were given a seat on the Council, after either having saved them from the Battle of the Citadel, or having Humanity rebuild the Council when they were lost. However, now that Humanity has a seat on the Council, they are able to influence the Council's rulings, protect their own interests and have a say in the governing of Citadel space.
- See also: Category:Humans
- In every Mass Effect game, players have controlled a human character as the main protagonist. This is a conscious choice on BioWare's part, as, according to Mac Walters, playing as a human gives players a 'foothold' in the setting (i.e. a frame of reference to experience a universe through human eyes).
- Humans are a playable race in Mass Effect 3's cooperative multiplayer mode.
|Citadel||Asari • Drell • Elcor • Hanar • Human • Keeper • Salarian • Turian • Volus|
|Non-Citadel||Batarian • Collector • Geth • Krogan • Leviathan • Quarian • Raloi • Reaper |
Virtual Alien • Vorcha • Yahg
|Historical||Prothean • Rachni • Other Historical Races|
|Andromeda||Angara • Jardaan • Kett • Remnant|