By John Saavedra

The conquests and discoveries of certain alien races in the Star Wars universe turned the tide of history in the galaxy far, far away forever.

Thanks to the Expanded Universe of Star Wars books and comics, we’ve learned quite a bit about the massive empire that preceded the one in the movies by millennia.

The ancient Gree, for example, famously discovered Tython, a once-hidden planet strong in the Force that would become the birthplace of the Jedi Order.

The Rakata, a primitive cannibalistic society that would one day conquer the rest of the galaxy to form the Infinite Empire, were also of that long ago age.

The original Sith that existed tens of thousands of years before Palpatine were very different from the Sith Lords from the movies, but they did worship the dark side of the Force.

Much has been learned about the Mandalorians, the fierce conquerors whose 16-year conflict led to the rise of a new Sith Empire that further devastated the Republic.

The blue-skinned and red-eyed Chiss are best embodied by Thrawn, whose brilliance and strategy was key to keeping the fragmented Empire relevant after its fall.

On the opposite side of history, the Kaminoans created the clones of the Clone Wars, setting the stage for the Empire’s rise to power and the near-extinction of the Jedi.

But the Clone Wars began on Geonosis, whose inhabitants created the plans for the Death Star, and the Emperor poisoned the planet to protect the military secret.

Known for their cunning and elite spy network, the Bothans secured the location of the second Death Star project, and many died to strike the final blow to the Empire.

But the New Republic was later dismantled by the Force-resistant Yuuzhan Vong, who were known for their bio-organic weaponry, armor, and technology.

Although some elements of the canon have diverted in the movies, the influence of the Expanded Universe and the aliens that inhabit it is undeniable.