[/QUOTE]Personally I would like to get away from the idea that our heroes are routinely running around one quarter of the galaxy. From what Picard said in FC the Federation is around two (maybe two and a half) percent of one quadrant.[/QUOTE]
I think a lot of people forget this when making those nice Star Trek maps. The Federation isn't a state like we know them on Earth, with well defined borders. It is likely a porous entity. For example, both Earth, Vulcan, and Andor are members of the Federation, and their systems are likely part of Federation territory. But there may be countless systems in-between full of planets with, say, pre-industrial societies. You can't exactly annex them, can you? I guess the Romulans or Klingons would. Even if we do assume that the Federation and the Romulan and Klingon Empires are non-porous, it is highly likely that they simply can't enforce controls over the space that they claim. Space is huge, and even within the Federation the vast majority of it is unexplored. For every Galaxy-class starship patrolling the outer rim of the UFP, there are probably dozens of Oberth-class vessels studying phenomenon well within Federation borders. In summary, the UFP and the various other powers may cover large portions of the quadrant, but they don't actually have much of a presence, except for in certain star systems - the majority of their "lands" are unexplored and unknown.