The term Badlands is traditionally used in Commonwealth for all of space beyond the 100 diameter perimeter surrounding inhabited worlds. In a political or socioeconomic context it refers to deep space colonies or settlements that are independent of the main planetary government, and are nominally loyal to the federation and Commonwealth government (or at least recognizes its sovereignty).
Local community governments range from autocratic family structures to participatory democratic councils. Most of these governments have itinerant liason officers provided by the Astrogation Patrol whose frequent visits or layovers allow at least a slippery grip upon the allegiances of these communities. Most famous of these governments is the ruling council of Freeport, an Oort Cloud community in Keng (Spinward Marches 2405), which was virtually independent of the Imperial government before the Civil War.
The term Badlands is traditionally used in the Commonwealth for all of space beyond the 100 diameter perimeter surrounding inhabited worlds. In a political or socioeconomic context it refers to deep space colonies or settlements that are independent of the main planetary government, and are nominally loyal to the federation and Commonwealth government (or at least recognizes its sovereignty).
Because the term "Badlander" is awkward, the permanent or frequent inhabitants of these colonies are simply known as Outlanders. This term, for the sake of convenience, is a cultural term. Chiefly it refers to deep space communities and populations that depend economically more upon each other, or feel more kinship and need for contact, with each other than with more settled mainstream worlds and colonies. It is a little vague, being a catchall for just about every conceivable sort of demographic and economic category. At these distances, it is easier for communities to keep in contact with anyone via normal jumpspace communications than normal sublight travel, and temporal distancing makes it easier for communities to relate to their likeminded cousins because of their shared hardships than with more sedate mainworlds. Many populations that subsist in this twilight zone are transient, usually consisting of belters and scavengers that move according to their relative fortunes. But then again there exists communities of many sorts, from space stations to permanent outposts on airless worlds or Kuiper Objects, that are occupied year-round, and whose populations fluctuate little.
This is the true borderland of the Commonwealth, where the military and services cannot back those imaginary straight lines with their constant presence. And it is an important entrepot for entry and exit. Because of the immense distances of space, and an abundance of deep space refueling sources, it is impossible to stop the flow of outside persons, vessels and goods that evade the mainworlds. The best that the Commonwealth government can do is to provide enough security and basic amenities to these communities, along with limited political participation, to ensure that their loyalties and allegiances are aligned more towards Mora than with predatory outside influences. Fortunately the vast majority of these communities are of Commonwealth humans displaced by earlier crisis or conflicts, though their feelings towards their government is one of grudging acceptance.
Outlanders are culturally diverse, but all of their communities have had to develop critical survival skills given the narrow margins they subsist upon. Versatility and mental agility are the most prized attributes. The lack of professionals and skilled workers means that a significant part of their working population must be multiskilled in several vital areas. And given the adverse conditions required to repair or heal without expensive supporting infrastructure creates a roving improvisational streak. However these dangers have made them conservative, unwilling to take more risks than what are necessary to their own survival. This inherent compartmentalization often takes the form of rampant hypocrisy or deception, as persons will display a public face towards outsiders or rivals that is often very different, even contrary, to their real objectives and interests. This defensive deceit has acquired them a mostly undeserved reputation as liars and gypsy-like thieves and con artists. It does create unusual contradictions, coupled with their inner loyalties, where a community will be more closely allied with another Outland community that is completely unlike in culture than with a mainstream world that is virtually identical in cultural forms with themselves.
Despite their preference for others on the same tightrope, and distrust of outsiders, they are famously hospitable. Isolation and remoteness are dangerous to various levels of the community's survival, and every opportunity is taken to relate to strangers. The celestime law is strictly enforced by community elders, and no community will refuse an outsider in need. Family loyalties are dictated by clan boundaries, and marriage alliances are the backbone of political networking, but marriages with outsiders are common for the simple reason that they replenish their gene pools. When a person marries into a clan, they are in for life, and must abide by the decisions of community elders and councils. Honor codes obligate persons to uphold personal integrity and subordinate their own talents to the survival of the community.
And they are extremely active in culture, producing virtuosos in artistic and intellectual pursuits as well as intramural sports. Some of the Commonwealth's most brilliant artists and scientists have emerged from their communities. Their love of diversion is both a means of allaying boredom and danger, and of defusing tensions between individuals in the tight confines of their communities. Off the playing fields responsible persons are obligated to a minimum amount of paramilitary training and drilling, creating capable militia units that can operate fabulously in their home environments. Their natural curiosity usually leads them to extensively map the outer systems of the Commonwealth, and they have great expertise in astronomy, geology and the life sciences. But they rarely demonstrate these talents without prompting from people they can trust.
Survival is tantamount to these communities, however, and tend to evince a deceptive neutrality in their political dealings with Non-Commoner populations. Though they tend to distrust the Commonwealth government, they have more respect for its dealings than the multitude of piratical pocket empires that have emerged outside of its boundaries. They will extend hospitality to even the most ruthless of interlopers, and they can disarmingly charm the pants off of outsiders in their willingness to cater to their every whim. But the moment that these persons leave their company, they quickly become prey for the Patrol and Navy units that have taken up concealed positions during the interval of their stay. And they keep careful track of everything that passes through their ports, and report the worst parts to the government. That is not to say that their loyalty cuts just one way, for they don't rely upon anyone to make their lives safe, and the government has learned to accept their restrained lawlessness as the price of doing business.
Very diverse, though Imperial culture humans constitute the largest minority. The remainder is primarily Sword Worlder (refugees displaced by the Crucible War) and Vargr. Aslan and K'kree are rarely found here, and no minor races are known to be native.
Outlander communities exist wherever it is economically possible. Most high population worlds support at least a few deep space communities, legal or otherwise. But their distribution is uneven, thanks to the Collapse and Quarantine. In the wake of the Rape of Trin, most Outlander communities in Deneb and Reft Sectors were abandoned or evacuated to prevent Virus from obtaining a foothold, and the population was replaced with observation and garrison units. Outside of these regions, eighty percent of the Outlander population is found in the trailing subsectors of the Spinward Marches, centered roughly around the intersections of Lanth, Rhylanor, Lunion and Mora subsector. The majority of their communities are found either as outsystem colonies, or as settled worlds around the companion stars in binary and trinary systems.