As of the beginning of the game storyline,
San Esperito is governed with an iron fist by dictator Salvador Mendoza, who seized power illegally.
Quote from the game manual:
"Last weeks violent uprising in the capital of San Esperito heralded the start of a coup, with the Parliament building stormed by military forces. Turmoil and chaos spread into the streets with gunfire ringing in the air as the sun set over a weekend of violence and confusion on the island. The dethroned president Hernan Augusto is still in hiding and currently unavailable for comment.
In a dispatch to the press, the new government claimed to have, "freed the nation from a pack of vultures feeding off the corpse of the national constitution."
Since becoming president, General Salvador Mendoza has hired in "foreign security specialists" to subdue any possible uprisings in the unstable regions surrounding the nation's capital. All week there has been unrest, with demonstrations throughout the island. When asked weather the security specialists are actually mercenaries, the President scoffed at the reporter and answered "I will not idly stand by and watch as parasitic, motherless dogs pillage my country. I will use whatever means necessary. Petty name-calling and blind moral issues are luxuries I cannot afford as the father of a nation!"
Under the watchful eye of President Mendoza, Jose Caramicas, the Leader of The People's Revolutionary Army, was controversially sentenced yesterday. Caramicas' sister, Esperanza, the only family member present in court broke down and wept uncontrollably. She later called for a fair hearing for her brother who she believes is the victim of a political conspiracy. She believes that his life may be in danger in the Government's El Grande Fort penal institution.
President Mendoza defended the verdict, saying 'The sentence of this terrorist will bring an end to rebel violence! Let this be a lesson to anyone else wishing to disrupt the harmony of this good nation.
Jose Caramicas, a popular hero in many provinces, will be escorted to the El Grande Fort later this morning under armed guard."
Mendoza's government is in an alliance with the Montano Cartel. Oddly however, they fight every time a "road AI" encounter each other. Normally they are killed by machine-gun fire from a helicopter.
This is never explained in the game, but it is believed that the Ejertico Revolucionario de Liberación set up a left wing government after the completion of all missions. Possibly in an alliance with the Rioja Cartel. It is also possible that Hernan Augusto's government was restored. It is not known what relations the new left wing government might have had with the American government after creation.
Government controlled forces (the Police and occasionally the San Esperito Military), will mercilessly hunt the player down for even a minor infraction, which increases the wanted level - Heat. There are five heat levels, with each bringing more forces. If the player commits too much crime, the heat level will increase and the police will deploy heavier weapons and superior vehicles.
San Esperito is located at 18° north and 59° west (the coordinates appear on the Extraction map, where they are reversed and mistakenly lead to the North Sea).
San Esperito is a tropical island-nation, composed of several islands. All islands are covered with mountains and jungles, with over 10 million trees. There's even a large volcano. The volcano is inactive and has a whore house (El Volcan) built inside the crater. The Caballeros military base is located inside the crater of a possible second volcano. This Provincia Caballeros volcano is not shaped so much like a cone and is smaller.
The weather is usually sunny. It does rain sometimes, but there are never any actual storms that would have an effect on aircraft. It was previously the largest area explorable in a sandbox game. According to this site, San Esperito was originally planed to be about 64 x 64 km (10846 square miles), which would have been a little over 4 times bigger.
The main means of transportation are cars. The nation is entirely covered with a system of roads. There's a lot of bridges, that span over rivers and cliffs between mountains, but unfortunately there are some islands that can't be accessed by road.
The biggest, "main roads", have 4 lanes and can allow someone to travel at a constant maximum speed, even with the fastest sports cars. This is good if you want to go fast.
The next most important roads are paved 2 lane roads.
And finally there are unpaved dirt roads. These make up about 50% of the roads. You should not be speeding on these roads, as the traffic and sharp turns in forests make it dangerous.
As a typical Caribbean nation, it was once occupied and settled by Spain . The nation has two about 200 to 300 year old Spanish fortresses - the El Grande Fort (now used as a prison) and the San Esperito Military owned fortress on Isla San Cristobal. The age of the fortresses is indicated by their weapon positions in the wall, which seem to fit the cannons from about 1700 to 1800. Several villages have old presumably Catholic churches that have bell towers and angel statues.
In modern time, the national language, as spoken by everyone is English, but most location names are still in Spanish. The national newspaper, Gaceta Nacional del San Esperito, has a Spanish name and even the official title of the president - "El Presidente Del San Esperito" - is in Spanish. All known local people have Spanish names.
Most posters on the streets are political propaganda, either supporting Salvador Mendoza, or his nemesis José Caramicas / Guerrillas, but there are also advertisement posters that shed some light onto the latest cultural events, tho the small print is unreadably small:
"Circus Juego" - A circus that features an elephant that can stand on its rear legs.
"Festival de la danca" - Some kind of a dance festival that presumably takes place at "casa de la dance".
"TORO orden del toro sagrado" - Some kind of a bullfight.
"Tres Hombres" - A band of 3 guys. One plays either a cello, or a double bass, one guy sings and one wields a guitar.
None of the vehicles in San Esperito have radios, but there are tens of large radio masts throughout the nation, that provide radio telecommunication. The only known radio station is just north-west of Nuevo Estocolmo.
The most common masts are made out of red and white components and are held up by 3 cables. These masts can be seen at several military bases and villages. Some can even be seen at random locations on mountains. You should be extra careful around these masts, as they can collapse if they're damaged. And they stay collapsed, even after saving the game. Low-flying helicopters can sometimes be seen crashing into them and making them collapse. Despite popular belief, it is actually possible to complete all missions and sidemissions without having any of them to collapse.
The next most common type of radio masts are shaped like high-voltage power lines and are exclusive to military bases. They can't be found in all military bases though.
And the least common and smallest radio masts are shaped like upper case letter "E"s, rotated 90° clockwise. They can be seen at some military airfields and military bases.
The drug cartels are among the most powerful private companies in the nation, being rivaled only by the EL gas oil company. They own and operate drug plantations a.k.a. Villas. San Esperito has two competing drug cartels.
The Montano Cartel are a large drug manufacturing community. Growing and exporting cocaine is their profit, and their gang color is purple. Like the police, they have their own Heat level and if the player kills too many cartel personnel, the heat level will increase. The Montano will then increase their presence in the area and use heavier weaponry.
The Rioja Cartel are direct enemies to the Montanos. Rico works for them in the story missions as well as in side missions. They also manufacture drugs, and are willing to do anything to destroy the Montano business. Their gang colors are black and yellow.