The United States of America is a country located in North America composed of 50 states in the Grand Theft Auto World in which the main Grand Theft Auto games take place. Most of the locations in the games are based on cities and states found in the actual USA. For example, Liberty City is based on the city of New York, Vice City is based on the city of Miami and the Keys located in South Florida, and the state of San Andreas is inspired by the actual states of California and Nevada, comprised of fictional cities based on real cities in those states.
The State of San Andreas, which contains 3 large cities and huge rural areas with small towns between, is located in the southwest, considering it has large deserts. The 3D Universe's Liberty City is located in the northeast, since it snowed in the mission Saint Mark's Bistro in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, while the Grand Theft Auto IV rendition of Liberty City is in Liberty City State. Note that the 3D and HD Universes do not follow the same canon. Vice City is located in the state of Florida down south, and this is directly said to be true by Salvatore Leone in The Introduction video for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Tommy Vercetti refers to the residents of the city as "dumb Florida morons" early after his arrival. Various NPCs also confirm that Vice City is in Florida.
In all the games, 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 down to game limitations. Rockstar Games have stated that they avoid placing unreachable peices of land within the games to keep the complete feel to the game. There are multiple islands, and every game starts with certain bridges blocked, restricting the player from exploring the entire city at the start of the game. There is always a story as to 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 Liberty City they are blocked due to to terrorist threats against the city (HD Universe). These restrictions are lifted as the story progresses, with the earlier reason for them being closed having blown over.
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 considerably of American origin.
During the mission 'Practice Swing' in The Ballad of Gay Tony, Tony refers to Rocco as being under the age of consent in Utah, thus confirming the State of Utah's existence in the GTA universe.
New Austin, Nuevo Paraiso, and West Elizabeth, regions of Red Dead Redemption, are unknown to be in the same universe, as there are no references to indicate this, but nothing to contradict it either.
The writers of the game seem to have independent political beliefs, as they often parody liberals and conservatives in a negative light. Eight Grand Theft Auto titles are set during a Republican presidency (GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas, Vice City Stories, GTA IV, EFLC and GTA V), while four are under a Democratic presidency (GTA, Advance, Chinatown Wars and perhaps GTA 2).
- 1961-1963: John F. Kennedy: In San Andreas, set in 1992, The Truth mentions John F. Kennedy and his assassination.
- 1963-1969: Lyndon B. Johnson
- 1969-1974: Richard Nixon
- 1974-1977: Gerald Ford
- 1977-1981: Jimmy Carter
- 1981-1989: Ronald Reagan (Vice City): Mentioned a handful of times on the radio (by Jezz Torrent and Michelle Carapadis on K-Chat, Couzin Ed on V-Rock and Jonathan Freeloader on VCPR).
- 1989-1993: George H.W. Bush (San Andreas): On Radio Los Santos, the 2Pac song "Just Don't Give A Fuck" mentions "fuck you to the B-U-S-H", which referred to George H.W. Bush having been president in 1992, although it is not clear whether the song is meant to be canon with the game.
- 1993-2001: Bill Clinton
- 2001-2009: George W. Bush (GTA III): 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.
- 1986 (Vice City): Alex Shrub, a fictional right-wing Florida congressman whose name and mannerisms are based on George H.W. Bush, voices his intention to run for president in 1988, although he fails after his affair with porn star Candy Suxxx becomes public (all of this happening in 1986). Said affair became a very public spectacle, even across the country in San Andreas where photos of Shrub and Suxxx are seen on Carl Johnson's wall.
- 1801-1809: Thomas Jefferson: He is mentioned in A History of Liberty City.
- 1961-1963: John F. Kennedy: His assassination is referenced on Globe Oil's in-game website, as is their appreciation for the younger Lawton.
- Unknown: Joe Lawton's father
- 1969-1974: Richard Nixon: Briefly mentioned during PLR's healthcare debate.
- 2008, 2013: Joe Lawton (GTA IV, GTA V): A parody of then-president George W. Bush. It is also mentioned that Joe Lawton's father was president, a reference to the aforementioned George H.W. Bush.
Known Towns, Cities, States and Regions
- New Guernsey (New Jersey)
- Liberty State
- San Andreas (California/Nevada)
- Las Venturas (Las Vegas)
- Los Santos (Los Angeles)
- San Fierro (San Francisco)
- Liberty State (New York/New Jersey)
- Alderney (New Jersey)
- Acter Industrial Park
- Alderney City (Jersey City)
- Alderney State Correctional Facility (GTA IV map enlists as it's own municipality)
- Guernsey City
- Port Tudor
- North Yankton (North Dakota)
- Los Santos
- Los Santos County
- Blaine County
- The City of Davis
- Paleto Bay
- Sandy Shores
- Stab City
- Cape Catfish
- North Chumash
- In the HD Universe, the United States may only comprise of 49 states. San Andreas is still mentioned as a state in a Liberty Tree article, which may mean that San Andreas is one state comprising of both California and Nevada, unless one of those states has a different name. California may still exist in GTA IV, however, as it is mentioned in a radio advertisement for a movie called Dragon Brain. California could be a region of San Andreas, or it might simply be a plot hole.
- New York City exists in the GTA III era, since various New York areas such as Brooklyn are mentioned in editions of Liberty Tree, and the fact that Liberty City was never meant to be directly based on New York.