The Grand Theft Auto World is a fictional world containing the settings or otherwise-mentioned locations of all the GTA 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/state of New York, for example). Continuity is generally retained throughout the games, 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 Florida. Furthermore, during one mission in GTA 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.
In between game eras, 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 GTA III Era (compare GTA III's rendition to that of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto Advance), however GTA IV introduced a new Liberty City created from scratch.
Liberty City, based on New York City, is a location that has appeared in GTA 1, GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, GTA Advance, GTA Liberty City Stories, GTA IV and GTA Chinatown Wars. It is generally depicted as a large city with a sizeable population (4 million in GTA III, double that in GTA IV), featuring a complete transportation infrastructure of roads and railways, and is located on a geographical configuration of shorelines and islands, similar to that of New York City. The city has been described as one suffering heavily from crime and corruption, with the presence of organized crime, feuding street gangs, petty criminals, and rampant misconduct among city officials and law enforcement. Due to its ever-growing crime statistics (the highest in the U.S.), it has been repeatedly voted as "The Worst Place In America".
Liberty City is located in the state of Liberty, a parody of the state of New York. It is likely that all the other cities in the real state of New York exist in the state of Liberty. It is unknown if Liberty City is the capital of it's state, afterall New York City is not the capital of New York.
New Guernsey, based on New Jersey, is a location that appeared in GTA 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 was used as a location again, alongside Liberty City, but was renamed to 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 (although this may be due to technical limitations -- Alderney foot police, for example, are seen wearing different uniforms to the LCPD, although LCPD vehicles patrol 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 GTA 1, GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories. It is based on Miami, Florida. In the GTA III era games, it consists of two major islands and six smaller islands; 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. Unlike Liberty City and the state of San Andreas, Vice City has no railway or rapid transit systems, and all islands are connected by road and pedestrian bridges.
In the games, Vice City is based on Miami, but it has been confirmed to be in the real state of Florida, therefore it's possible that Vice City replaces Miami within the GTA World.
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 (GTA) series of video games.
- In the original Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas is a single city based on the real city of San Francisco, California.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, San Andreas is a fictionalized American state based on the real states of California and Nevada. San Andreas appears as a series of large islands surrounded by water, but connected by a series of bridges. San Andreas is subdivided into three cites (Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas) and five counties Red County, Flint County, Whetstone, Tierra Robada and Bone County. Details of this incarnation are as follows:
Las Venturas is based on Las Vegas, Nevada. Like its real life counterpart, Las Venturas is a gambling city located in the desert region. The city is also notable for its sizeable freeway system.
Towns 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).
Although refered to as a state, it is perhaps the size of a city, mainly due to game limitations.
In GTA IV
San Andreas has not physically appeared in the GTA IV era as of yet, but it is referenced heavily. Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas all exist, as do some of the towns, but it is unknown if they are within the State of San Andreas. In GTA IV, San Andreas is never mentioned by name, and the three cities are also never implied to be situated there. It is possible that in the GTA IV era, San Andreas is not a state, but rather a city. For example, it may be that Los Santos and San Fierro are now standalone fictional cities in the real state of California, replacing Los Angeles and San Franciso. Similarly, Vice City is a fictional city in the real life state of Florida, possibly replacing Miami.
Anywhere City is the setting of Grand Theft Auto 2. It is presumably called this as it is set in the near future, and doesn't bear any resemblance to any real life city in particular. It is divided into 3 separated parts - 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 in later versions of the game released for the PC, a light rail transit system was provided.
London, England, was the city used in both the 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. To date, these are the only real-life cities to be used in a GTA game.
Carcer City is a location featured in Rockstar's Manhunt; references are made to it in various GTA games, suggesting that it exists within the GTA world. According to the 'Miles Traveled' system on the statistical screen on GTA IV, Carcer City is around 50 - 100 miles away from Liberty City.
- Bullworth is the small New England town (possibly New Hampshire) which Bully takes place in. Bullworth Academy is seen on TV in GTA IV.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reddick, Florida is the town in which the V-Rock radio station is set 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, Germany are 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 by listening to conversations.
- Dublin, Ireland and some other Irish cities are mentioned at signs in the Lucky Winkles bar in GTA IV.
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is mentioned on Chatterbox FM in GTA III when Lazlow says "Working here sure beats the hell out of digging sewage ditches outside Kuala Lumpur."
- Arizona mentioned two times in The Lost and Damned, both times as place for Billy Grey to move over. First time as law abiding citizen and second as witness under witness protection program.
- 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.
- Minneapolis, Minnesota is mentioned in a radio advertisement for the musical "WTF."
- Kansas is mentioned by pedestrians in GTA Vice City. If the player starts a fight, some may say "This isn't Kansas, you know!".
- Baghdad, Iraq is mentioned in GTA 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.
- Vietnam and the Vietnam war is mentioned at several occasions.
- Cambodia is where some parts of the Evacuator 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 on TV.
- Iowa is mentioned in a show at Perestroika.
- Mexico is mentioned in the GTA series, particularly in GTA VC and GTA SA.
- Djibouti is mentioned in a The Science of Crime ad.