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Hey, I believe this country can still make interesting movies. There's no better way to define American life than a two hour plot in which the hero looks good and defeats evil.

The United States of America (USA), more commonly known as the United States (U.S.) or America, is a federal presidential constitutional republic situated mostly in central North America. Its 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, rests between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean such as Puerto Rico.

The United States in Grand Theft Auto[]


A flag of the United States in Paleto Bay, Grand Theft Auto V


In the Grand Theft Auto universe, the vast majority of the locations in the games are based on cities and states found in the real-life USA, with the country logically serving as the franchise's main setting.


The State of San Andreas, which contains three large cities and rural areas with small towns between, is located in the American Southwest, considering it has large deserts. The 3D Universe's Liberty City is located somewhere in the Northeast, as it snowed in the mission Saint Mark's Bistro in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and the player must fly eastwards to get there. The HD Universe rendition of Liberty City is located in the State of Liberty, based on the State of New York, also located on the East Coast.

Vice City is located in the South of the United States. Unlike the other cities featured in-game, Vice City is the only known fictional city to be located in a real-life state, as various characters refer to the city as being located in Florida. However, following the release of the first Grand Theft Auto VI trailer, the state in the HD Universe has been retconned to Leonida instead.

In all the games (excluding the 2D Universe games and GTA V), the cities are always located on several islands connected by bridges. They appear to be isolated islands in the middle of the sea, but this is due to game limitations. Rockstar Games have stated that they avoid placing unreachable pieces of land within the games to keep the complete feel of the game. There are multiple islands, and every game except GTA V starts with certain bridges blocked, restricting the player from exploring the entire city at the start of the game. There is always a story about why the bridges are shut, sometimes relative to the location of the game; for example, the bridges in Vice City are shut due to hurricane warnings, while in HD-era Liberty City, they are blocked due to terrorist threats, and bridges in San Andreas are blocked because of a major earthquake and Frank Tenpenny warning Carl that he couldn't leave the town. These restrictions are lifted as the story progresses, with the earlier reason for them being closed having passed, unlocking new parts of the city/state for the player to explore. In the case of GTA V, the entirety of San Andreas is available to explore from the beginning of the game, though some activities outside the area the player is meant to be in for the storyline generally remain inaccessible until introduced through missions.


Other cities are mentioned as well and some of them are the main settings of other Rockstar's videogames:

  • Carcer City is an industrial city located in the Rust Belt area of the United States, and is where the game Manhunt takes place. It takes place in the 3D Universe. There are references to Manhunt in GTA III during a news segment on the radio saying that Carcer City is not too far from Liberty City. An alternative version of Carcer City also exists in the HD Universe, as Michael De Santa mentions in The Paleto Score that the first bank heist he committed took place in 1988 on the outskirts of the city.
  • During the mission Practice Swing in The Ballad of Gay Tony, Tony refers to Rocco as being under the age of consent in Utah.
  • Tony also refers to Ohio as quoted in a Liberty Tree article: "If I wanted to go to bed at 8pm and worry about noise and hate people who weren't identical to me, I would go and live in Ohio. Not that there's anything wrong with Ohio. I just used it as an example".
  • Arizona is referenced by congressman Thomas Stubbs in The Lost and Damned 's final mission "Get Lost". It is also the birthplace of Evan Moss.

Politicians and political candidates[]

Throughout the Grand Theft Auto series, numerous United States politicians are mentioned, including presidents, congressmen, governors, and mayors, along with candidates running for said offices. These include both fictional and real-life individuals. Fictional U.S. politicians are used to parody several real-life individuals as well as the U.S. and local governments.

2D Universe[]

  • Presidents
    • Unnamed President (Unknown–1997) – Spontaneously combusted.
    • President of the United States (1997–1997) – Took office after the spontaneous combustion of the previous president.
  • Mayors
    • Mayoress (1997) – The mayor of either Guernsey City or Liberty City.

3D Universe[]

  • Presidents
    • John F. Kennedy (1961–1963) – In GTA San Andreas, set in 1992, The Truth mentions John F. Kennedy and his assassination.
    • Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) – Mentioned on the radio and his photo is an Easter egg in GTA Vice City.
    • George W. Bush (2001–2009) – The Liberty Tree article "The W Comes To Town" shows George W. Bush having just been elected president at the time of GTA III, entirely canon with real-life events.
  • Congressmen
    • Alex Shrub (?–1986) – A right-wing Florida congressman appearing in GTA Vice City whose name and mannerisms are based on George H.W. Bush.
  • State Prosecutors
    • Philip Hedges (2001) – State Prosecutor for the State of Liberty, and Counsel to the Mayor of Liberty City.

HD Universe[]

  • Presidents
    • George Washington (1789–1797) – Washington is mentioned by GTA IV reporter S Fiona Scott from Public Liberty Online.
    • Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809) – Thomas Jefferson is mentioned in GTA IV in the TV documentary A History of Liberty City.
    • Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865) – Abraham Lincoln is first mentioned on the GTA IV website Also, Lincoln and his assassin John Wilkes Booth are mentioned on the GTA V website
    • Ulysses S. Grant (1869–1877) – He is mentioned alongside Robert E. Lee on the GTA IV website
    • John F. Kennedy (1961–1963) – Mentioned to be fighting Fidel Castro on the moon in an advertisement for Righteous Slaughter 7.
    • Richard M. Nixon (1969–1974) – Briefly mentioned in defense of HMOs during the Pacemaker segment of Public Liberty Radio.
    • Joe Lawton (Unknown–present) – A parody of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, having been first mentioned in GTA IV.
  • First Spouses
    • Joe Lawton's wife (Unknown–present) – First mentioned in GTA V.
  • Secretaries of the Treasury
    • Alexander Hamilton (1789–1795) – Hamilton is mentioned in GTA IV in the TV documentary A History of Liberty City.
  • Postmaster Generals
    • Benjamin Franklin (1775–1776) - Franklin's picture is seen in GTA V on several $100 bills inside the Vanilla Unicorn's back office.
  • Governors
    • Greg Johnson (Unknown) – Governor of presumably the State of Liberty. The Governor Greg Johnson Projects are named in honor of him.
    • Greg R. Smith (Unknown) – Governor of presumably the State of Liberty. The Governor Greg R. Smith Houses are named in honor of him.
    • John Hunter (2008) – A liberal candidate running for governor of the State of Liberty in GTA IV, inspired by former United States President Bill Clinton, former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson.
    • Michael Graves (2008) – A conservative candidate running for governor of the State of Liberty in GTA IV.
    • Jock Cranley (2013) – A conservative candidate running for governor of the State of San Andreas in GTA V, based on numerous Hollywood actors who have gone on to represent the Republican party, such as Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    • Sue Murry (2013) – A liberal candidate running for governor of the State of San Andreas in GTA V and is possibly based on various liberal female politicians, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.
  • Deputy Mayors
    • Bryce Dawkins (2008) – Liberty City Deputy Mayor, and a parody of politicians involved in gay sex scandals.
  • Unspecified politicians
    • Mary Mayfly (2008) – A liberal politician working for Liberty City in its City Hall.
    • Sam Flowers (2008) – A Liberty City politician known for his racism and homophobia.


While similar to the real life USA in a number of ways, there are a few notable differences with the United States of America in Grand Theft Auto, with the most obvious one being the exaggerated amorality and corruption.

Government and Politics[]

In the 3D Universe, particularly during the 1980s, rampant anti-communist fervor was on display, paralleling the Cold War politics of the era. However, as of the HD Universe era, political undertones that had once been sidelined in the 3D universe era are now more blatant, often reflecting the controversies and issues surrounding the real-world United States of 2008 and 2013.

In 2008, fear of terrorism is seen as a valid reason to close the bridges of Liberty City, thus making the life of common people difficult (much of this is seen as a jab at Bush-era neoconservatism, as well as the paranoia and jingoism common to that time in history). In addition, the Jingoism Act allows for mass surveillance on Americans and seizes their freedom, with the repeal of the Fourth Amendment considered by some as a justifiable means of supporting the War on Terror. It is also worth noting that the country has reputedly fought an Australian-American War, and this event is canon in both the 3D and HD Universe. Likewise, as of 2013, paranoid right wing nativism appears to exist alongside exaggerated left-wing hypocrisy, particularly with regard to characters such as Devin Weston. Overall, the Grand Theft Auto series' depiction of American politics is shown to exaggerate and lampoon both sides of the political spectrum.

The Federal Government, on the other hand, is also shown to either be highly corrupt, incompetent, or downright malignant in some cases, with branches of the government such as the International Affairs Agency covertly planning to commit acts of state-sponsored terrorism to increase their funding by the government. Paramilitaries and private security firms such as Merryweather Security are allowed to act openly on US soil, often with the overt sanction of the US government.


The United States of the Grand Theft Auto universe is shown to be economically powerful (much like the real life United States), with companies and businesses often paralleling real-life industries. It is shown that in the 3D Universe, there was some backlash to the prevalence of Japanese manufacturing in the United States in the 1980s-1990s, paralleling similar sentiments in the real-world United States of that time period.

By the 21st Century of the HD Universe, the American economy is shown to be dominant worldwide, although some businesses such as the automotive company Bravado have been bailed out by the US government, paralleling the actual auto industry bailouts in the United States. Judging by how some businesses are displayed on the internet and in television adverts, deregulation and the non-existence of safety standards appears to be more commonplace with regard to many industries in the GTA universe, such as the tobacco industry and the arms industry. By 2013, internet companies and social media firms such as LifeInvader are shown to have become excessively invasive in people's lives, both publicly and intimately.

According to a Weazel News headline, the US economy is completely bought out by Chinese companies, referencing the real-life trend of businesses outsourcing to China.

Entertainment and Mass Media[]

Society has become indifferent to the point that on some radio stations, violence is allowed to go unpunished and sometimes even encouraged. One radio host allowed an unhinged man to fracture the skulls of two other guests on broadcast with a drill, and another radio station features a judge who frequently abuses his power, displays rampant sexism, and releases vicious lions that brutally kill two defendants. The audience ultimately eats their dead bodies, with one individual claiming they taste "just like chicken". This could possibly be a reference to Donald Love, a cannibalistic character from the series who, in the mission Cam-Pain in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, states that human flesh “tastes just like chicken, but somehow more, err, sentient”.

News media parallels the actual state of American broadcast news, often with an extreme and hyperbolic political slant (uncommon to the real-world of 2008 and 2013, but far more prevalent as of the late 2010s-early 2020s). Political pundits are shown to endorse questionable and often violent tactics. For example, a right-wing talk show host, Richard Bastion, encourages a listener to shoot a suspected "Spanish terrorist" in a crowded Liberty City subway train.

From 2013 to 2018, American society has become morally bankrupt enough that television shows regularly air blatantly disturbing and deranged content, ranging from crimes being openly committed on air to televising extreme right wing and left wing cartoons. The talent show Fame or Shame shows open racism and has the host frequently bullied and even outright assaulted. The Jack Howitzer reality program shows Jack firing a gun at the TV crew and is implied to have the killed previous talent agent. A dead prostitute can also be seen in the motel Jack is living in. Again, there do not seem to be any legal consequences for these actions.

Vehicular gladiatorial death matches such as Arena War are seemingly legal and is shown to a live audience in the maze stadium, it is also broadcasted through streaming devices such as the internet. Spectators are encouraged to interfere and even murder the contestants during the matches. The commentators are also gleeful and mocking in their commentary on the destruction and homicides that occur during matches, showing no regard or care for the numerous deaths that occur.


Religion in the Grand Theft Auto depiction of the United States is often shown to be corrupt and hypocritical, with Megachurch pastors in the 3D Universe such as Pastor Richards lampooning real-life televangelists. As of 2013, new-age cults such as the Children of the Mountain and the Epsilon Program are shown to be prevalent, with the Epsilon Program having achieved immense money and influence through their followers. Some groups, such as the Altruist Cult, are shown to be more reclusive, likely due to their cannibalistic tendencies.

Science and Technology[]

The United States of the Grand Theft Auto universe is shown to be more technologically advanced than in real life, to a minor extent in the 3D Universe (with experimental technologies such as the Jetpack), as well as exaggerated elements bordering on science fiction in the HD Universe. In 2008, two articles demonstrate that human cloning is close to becoming a reality, and may have likely been successful as of 2017. In 2013, portable Railgun weapons exist, while as of 2017, multiple countries and private individuals are developing sentient artificial intelligences alongside orbital space-based weaponry.

Known Locations[]

2D Universe[]

  • Liberty City (New York City)
    • Liberty Island (Manhattan)
    • Eastern Landmass (Brooklyn/Queens)
    • Minor Islands (Roosevelt Island/Rikers Island)
    • North Eastern Island (The Bronx)
  • San Andreas (San Francisco)
    • Northern Landmass (San Francisco)
    • South Eastern Landmass (Marin County)

3D Universe[]

State of Florida[]

State of Liberty[]

Note: The latter is not included in any game world, and therefore inaccessible in-game.

State of San Andreas[]

Unknown State(s)[]

Mentioned Locations[]

  • Cities
    • Cleveland, Ohio (mentioned by Jezz Torrent on K-Chat in GTA Vice City)
    • Columbia, Missouri (mentioned by Mary-Beth Maybell on K-Rose in GTA San Andreas)
    • Green Bay, Wisconsin (mentioned by BJ Smith on K-Chat in GTA Vice City)
    • Miami (mentioned in GTA III and GTA Vice City)
    • Nashville, Tennessee (mentioned by Mary-Beth Maybell on K-Rose in GTA San Andreas)
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (mentioned in the talk show Pressing Issues on VCPR)
    • Tampa, Florida (mentioned by BJ Smith on K-Chat in GTA Vice City)

HD Universe[]

State of Alderney[]

State of Leonida[]

State of Liberty[]

State of North Yankton[]

State of San Andreas[]

Mentioned Locations[]

  • Counties
    • Bone County (appears on Venturas Poker Challenge in GTA IV and is implied to be part of the unnamed western state)
    • Flint County (mentioned in GTA IV and in GTA Online)
    • Red County (mentioned in GTA IV and GTA V)
  • Territories


  • Even though the Grand Theft Auto video games are made in the United Kingdom, specifically Edinburgh, Scotland, they are released first in the United States of America, and subsequently Canada followed by the UK and Europe. The games are primarily based on American popular culture, and nearly all have been set in fictitious (or copied) locations on the American mainland. The music, the clothes, the slang, and the abundance of vehicles in the game are of American origin.
  • The Idaho, the Washington and the Tampa are vehicles named after American states and cities of the same name.
  • The San Andreas Flight School Update added a USA Chute Bag in GTA V and in the enhanced version, the Dukes has a customizable option where the player can add an American flag to the roof of the car for $2,500.
  • The Police Stinger police car, the Liberator monster truck and the Sovereign motorcycle have American-themed schemes on it.
  • There is a USA/American scheme for the Marshall monster truck.
  • Several Vehicle Brands appear to be of an American origin or mostly based on real-life American brands:
  • Several weapons in Grand Theft Auto V are stated to be of an American origin or manufactured by American firearm manufacturers.

License Plates[]

  • Multiple real-life U.S. states are featured in GTA V, on the wall of Sandy's Gas Station near Trevor's Trailer, in the form of license plates. The states included are Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, and California (included twice, with different designs). There is also a plate with the year 1965 on it, with the rest of the text covered up.
    • The 1965 plate is more than likely from Ohio or based on the Ohio plates from that time.
  • A California plate is also visible on a Slamvan wreck located at Stab City in GTA V.
  • The license plates mentioning real-life counterparts of Grand Theft Auto locations would appear to contradict the HD Universe's canon; however, those could simply be mere references or even developer oversights, as there is an instance of a precaution sign located at the docks in Elysian Island which mentions the "State of California" as if it was the in-universe State of San Andreas.


  1. The city is mentioned by Daddy Yankee on San Juan Sounds.
  2. DC receives a mention in A History of Liberty City.
  3. Weazel News reports that Washington politicians celebrate as the recession has "officially ended."
    — Random Pager messages.
  5. "R.C. Hole In Another Probe" - Liberty Tree (GTA Liberty City Stories manual)
  6. John Chesapeake, a staff writer for Weazel News, refers to the movie Dragon Brain as a Vinewood production. Vinewood being the GTA counterpart of Hollywood, which is in California.


[ ve ]Countries featured in the Grand Theft Auto series
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