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The Grand Theft Auto World is a fictional world containing the settings or otherwise-mentioned locations of all the Grand Theft Auto games (for example, Liberty City, Vice City, Carcer City, and the State of San Andreas). It is assumed that the rest of the real world exists within the fictional world, although possibly without some of the major cities to which the GTA locations are analogous (Liberty City/state of Liberty may replace New York City/New York State, for example). Continuity is generally retained throughout the games pertaining to the specific "universe" that the game is a part of, creating a coherent fictional universe.
A map selection screen in the first Grand Theft Auto game reveals that the contemporary renditions of Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City are located in or near New York, California, and Florida respectively. It is unclear whether these locations are canon with the rest of the series, however it is known that Vice City is located in the state of Florida.
Furthermore, during one mission in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, the player could fly a plane eastwards and arrive, after a cutscene, in Liberty City. This relationship is similar to the real-world geographical placing of the states of California and Nevada (upon which San Andreas is based) to New York (upon which Liberty City is based). This does involve crossing a vast body of water, but bodies of water are used to isolate game-worlds in the GTA series, and do not necessarily indicate that these game-worlds are truly islands. A worldmap that can be found in Grand Theft Auto V suggests that the sea level in the GTA world has increased significantly, suggesting that the islands are formed by the rising sea.
In between game "universes", the recurring locations of GTA are represented very differently. Liberty City appeared in Grand Theft Auto 1 and GTA III with almost no similarities other than that they were both broadly based on New York City. Liberty City retained continuity throughout the 3D Universe (compare GTA III's rendition to that of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto Advance), however Grand Theft Auto IV marked the beginning of a new "universe", and started a new continuity while introducing a new, more realistic rendition of Liberty City.
Liberty City, based on New York City, is a location that has appeared in Grand Theft Auto 1, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto Advance, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Liberty City is a large city (with a population of four million in GTA III and eight million in GTA IV) and features extensive road and railway transport links, and is located on a geographical configuration of shorelines and islands, similar to that of New York City. The city has high crime and corruption rates, with organized crime, feuding street gangs, petty criminals, and rampant misconduct among city officials and law enforcement commonplace. The city has the highest crime statistics in the United States and has repeatedly been voted as "The Worst Place In America".
Liberty City is located in the State of Liberty, a reference to the state of New York. It is possible that all the other cities in the real state of New York exist in the state of Liberty, but it is unknown if Liberty City is the state capital.
New Guernsey, based on New Jersey, is a location that appeared in Grand Theft Auto 1. It consists of Guernsey City (based on Jersey City), Fort Law (Fort Lee), Schlechberg (Gutenberg), Hackenslash (Hackensack) and Eaglewood (Englewood).
In Grand Theft Auto IV, New Jersey reappears, alongside Liberty City, and has been renamed Alderney. Although Alderney is an entire state, it appears to be the size of a borough (about the same size as Algonquin) and is treated as a borough of Liberty City, with the LCPD regularly seen patrolling Alderney. Alderney contains neighborhoods that are based on different cities and regions in New Jersey, such as Weehawken, Englewood, Jersey City, Newark, Kearny, and Elizabeth, among others.
Vice City is a city that appeared in Grand Theft Auto 1, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. It is based on Miami, Florida. In the 3D Universe, it consists of two major islands and six smaller islands, with both main islands separated by a large body of water similar to that of Biscayne Bay (separating Miami Beach from mainland Miami). Each major island is divided into several districts. The population of Vice City is given as around 1.8 million. Vice City has no railway or rapid transit systems, with the islands connected by road and pedestrian bridges.
In the games, Vice City is based on Miami and has been confirmed to be in the real state of Florida, rather than a fictional state like Liberty and San Andreas. However in the GTA III era, Vice City is not analogus to Miami as it is referenced in both GTA III and GTA Vice City, and the location of Vice City being given as in the Florida Keys.
San Andreas, which is intended to be based in the West Coast of the United States, has appeared as two different entities in the Grand Theft Auto series of video games:
In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, San Andreas reappears as a state based on the American states of California and Nevada. The State of San Andreas incorporates three cities (Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas) and five counties (Red County, Flint County, Whetstone, Tierra Robada and Bone County). San Andreas is a series of large islands surrounded by water, but connected by a series of bridges. Details of this incarnation are as follows:
San Fierro is the smallest city in San Andreas, based on San Francisco, California. San Fierro is located in the western part of San Andreas. South of the city lies the massive Mount Chiliad, and to the north lies the county of Tierra Robada. San Fierro Bay lies to the north, and The Panopticon to the east.
There are thirteen small towns in the State of San Andreas, in addition to the cities: Palomino Creek, Montgomery, Dillimore, Blueberry, Angel Pine, El Quebrados, Bayside, Las Barrancas, Fort Carson, Las Payasadas, Valle Ocultado, Aldea Malvada and Las Brujas (the latter two being ghost towns).
In Grand Theft Auto V, San Andreas is a large state subdivided into two counties: Los Santos County and Blaine County. Within Los Santos County is the city, Los Santos, and many other small towns and neighborhoods. Like its 3D Universe counterpart, San Andreas is a large island surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on all sides. The in-game area does not represent the entire state, and is referred to as "Southern San Andreas" by Rockstar, with San Fierro and Las Venturas existing in a northern portion of the state not featured in the game. Details of this incarnation are as follows:
Los Santos as in the 3D universe, is based on Los Angeles, California. It is the biggest city in southern San Andreas, and is bordered by Los Santos County to the north and east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south and west.
Paleto Bay is based on Fillmore, California and is the smallest city in San Andreas. It is very isolated, but still more devoloped then other towns in Blaine County. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the north and Mount Chilliad to the south.
North Yankton is a landlocked state featured in Grand Theft Auto V. Believed to be based on North Dakota, the state of North Yankton is located in the Midwestern United States. It is a large and relatively rural state and contains the town of Ludendorff, which has a population of 918 and is home to the Midwest's "Biggest Beaver". The area surrounding the town contains many farmyards and a branch of the Bobcat Security Bank. The state is often covered in snow and therefore has low average temperatures, especially in the winter.
Anywhere CityAnywhere City is the setting of Grand Theft Auto 2. The name "Anywhere City" derives from the fact that it is not named in the game and does not appear to bear a resemblance to any particular city. It is divided into three separate districts - Commercial, Residential and Industrial (similar to the nature of the three main districts in GTA III). The infrastructure of Anywhere City is primarily composed of roadways and footpaths, but a light rail transit system appears in the PC version of the game.
LondonLondon, the capital of England, appears in both mission packs available for the original Grand Theft Auto - Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and Grand Theft Auto: London 1961. Manchester appears as a multiplayer map in the second pack. To date, these are the only real-life cities to be used physically in a GTA game, and the only featured cities from outside the United States.
Carcer CityCarcer City is a location featured in Rockstar's Manhunt. The city is referenced in various GTA games, suggesting that it exists within the GTA World. It has been revealed that Carcer City exists in both the 3D era and HD era of Grand Theft Auto. All references to it show that it neighbors Liberty City.
According to the 'Miles Traveled' system on the statistical screen in GTA IV, Carcer City is around 50 – 100 miles away from Liberty City. This hints that Carcer City could possibly be based on Philadelphia, since it is about the same distance from real life New York City.
Pedestrian dialogue from both GTA IV and GTA V references Carcer City.
- Bullworth is the small New England town (possibly New Hampshire) which Bully takes place in. Bullworth Academy is seen on I'm Rich in GTA IV.
- Bali is mentioned on the "Free James Pedeaston" website in GTA IV, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.
- Brazil is mentioned by Luis Lopez in The Ballad of Gay Tony. A Brazilian flag can be seen in Vice City and several pedestrians speak Brazilian Portuguese in Grand Theft Auto IV, and a Brazilian airline appears in Grand Theft Auto V.
- Portugal is referenced to, in Alderney, where there are multiple Portuguese flags (in Leftwood) and many Portuguese bakeries and stores. This is a reference to the Portuguese population in New Jersey
- Indonesia is mentioned on the www.Freejames.org in-game website, as well as by Eddie Low in his MyRoom blog in GTA IV. and in www.Ecoelitevacations.com in TLAD.
- Capital City is a city mentioned in the miles traveled stats of GTA IV. It is possibly based on Washington, D.C. (United States Capital) or Albany, NY (New York's Capital).
- Cottonmouth, Florida is the setting of Rockstar's Manhunt 2. The Cottonmouth police force makes use of Police Mavericks with similar paint jobs to the VCPD's mavericks. There are also many vehicles from the GTA series seen in the game (such as the Mule, Kuruma, Stinger, and Burrito), also the Majestic Hotel appears. Some fictional medications seen advertised in Manhunt 2 also appear on yourmexicandoctor.com in GTA IV.
- Glasgow, Scotland is mentioned in the Police database as a home town of one of the Most Wanted criminals in GTA IV.
- Edinburgh, Scotland is mentioned on a "visit Scotland" postcard in GTA San Andreas.
- Puerto Rico is mentioned several times in GTA IV and also the nationality of several characters in the game, such as Elizabeta Torres and Manny Escuela and the Spanish Lords gang. The radio station San Juan Sounds is named after the capital city of Puerto Rico.
- Detroit, Michigan is mentioned on leftover-vacations.com in GTA IV.
- Kowloon is an area of Hong Kong, mentioned by Wu Zi Mu in the mission Ran Fa Li in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It is also the hometown of Huang Lee, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.
- Mars, Alabama is the birthplace of Pastor Richards.
- Miami, Florida - in GTA III there are billboards saying "See you in Miami!", possibly foreshadowing GTA Vice City being based there and Ray Machowski mentions it after his departure from Liberty City. In GTA Vice City, there are billboards that say "Move over Miami!" referencing how Vice City has replaced Miami.
- Kent, England is the birthplace of Kent Paul.
- Preston, England is mentioned on the GTA IV internet.
- Shropshire, England, an English county, is mentioned by Daisie Cash-Cooze in The Ballad of Gay Tony.
- Reddick, Florida is the town from which the V-Rock radio station broadcasts in 1984.
- Bogota, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Toronto, Leith and Tokyo are cities mentioned in the official website of GTA III (Francis International Airport); flights are advertised for these cities, as well as to London, San Andreas, Vice City and Miami.
- Paris, France and Hanover, Germanyare mentioned on Internet pages in GTA IV.
- Moscow, Russia is mentioned by Dimitri Rascalov (probably his birthplace/hometown) to Mikhail Faustin, and Russian Mafia members in conversations.
- Dublin, Ireland and some other Irish cities are mentioned on signs in the Lucky Winkles bar in GTA IV.
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is mentioned on Chatterbox FM in Grand Theft Auto III when Lazlow says "Working here sure beats the hell out of digging sewage ditches outside Kuala Lumpur."
- Arizona is mentioned twice in The Lost and Damned by Billy Grey.
- Australia is mentioned a few times on the radio, and it is mentioned that they were at war with the United States in the past.
- Jamestown is mentioned in A History of Liberty City in GTA IV.
- Washington, D.C. is mentioned in A History of Liberty City in GTA IV. It succeeded Liberty City as the national capital during the 18th century and is described as a "malarious swamp on the banks of the Potomac."
- Minneapolis, Minnesota is mentioned in a radio advertisement for the musical WTF in GTA IV.
- Kansas is mentioned by pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. If the player starts a fight, some may say "This isn't Kansas, you know!".
- Baghdad, Iraq is mentioned in Grand Theft Auto IV by the radio show Fizz! on the radio station WKTT. One of the hosts says "Liberty City's entertainment scene has been hotter than a Baghdad barbecue!"
- Belfast, Northern Ireland is mentioned during the firefight with the police during the GTA IV mission Three Leaf Clover. Derrick McReary says something along the lines of "I haven't seen fighting like this since Belfast!"
- North Carolina is the birthplace of Tim.
- Ohio is mentioned on Cluckin' Bell's homepage and radio ads, and also listed as one of the locations a spin-off of the television series "The Science Of Crime" takes place.
- Vietnam and the Vietnam war are mentioned on several occasions.
- Cambodia is where some parts of the Evacuator film takes place.
- Iran is where rock musician Crow is playing a much-anticipated show during the events of GTA IV. It is advertised on the radio and TV.
- Iowa is mentioned during a show at Perestroika.
- Mexico is mentioned in the GTA series, particularly in GTA Vice City, GTA San Amdreas, and GTA V.
- Djibouti, Fairbanks, Tuskegee, Panama City and Santiago are all mentioned in a The Science Of Crime radio ad.
- Indiana is mentioned during a radio ad in GTA Vice City.
- Ibiza, Spain is mentioned in GTA IV show I'm Rich.
- Stockholm, Sweden is the birthplace of Sunbeam.
- Dubai, UAE is Yusuf Amir's birthplace, in GTA IV Playboy X erroneously mentions it as being located in Africa during the mission Deconstruction for Beginners.
- Bucharest, Romania is mentioned in the dialog between Niko and Gravelli. Darko Brevic also lives here.
- Texas is mentioned after a Perestroika show by the announcer and is the birthplace of Wade Johnson.
- Beirut, Lebanon, is said to be twinnied with Liberty City in GTA III and in GTA IV a vacation to the city is advertised.
- California is mentioned in GTA IV in a radio ad for a movie called Dragon Brain.
- Vladivostok FM, a radio station in Grand Theft Auto IV, is named after the Russian city of the same name.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands is mentioned in the description of Show Me the Monet.
- Yangshan, China is mentioned in GTA V by Trevor in the mission Fresh Meat. The Chinese Triads that kidnapped Michael originate from here.