I always thought this planet was so huge. But lookin' at it from space, I realized it's so small. We're just floatin' in the dark. ......kinda makes you feel powerless. On top of that it's got Sephiroth festerin' inside it like a sickness. That's why I say this planet's still a kid. A little kid sick and trembling in the middle of this huge universe. Someone's gotta protect it. Ya follow me? That someone is us.
- —Cid Highwind
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Gaia is made up of three unnamed continents: one in the east, one in the west, and one in the north. Other large islands include the Mideel island south of the eastern continent part of a long chain of islands, a large forested island that holds the Temple of the Ancients in the southwest of the eastern continent, and a long island to the west of the western continent that is home to Wutai. Most of Gaia has a temperate climate with large grassy plains broken up by tall mountains.
The Icicle Area taking up the entire northern continent is made up of a massive plain of ice known as the Great Glacier. At the northern tip of the landmass is a gigantic crater called the North Crater that has a cave inside known as the Northern Cave which leads deep into the bowels of Gaia. The most prominent desert is in the western continent below Gold Saucer. Marshlands can be found in the eastern continent in front of the Mythril Mine in the Grasslands Area.
Gaia is a living organism from which all its living creatures are born and to where they return upon death. Its life blood is the Lifestream, a flow of energy that contains all the knowledge of all the creatures that ever lived on it. Since Gaia is a living creature, it has a mind of its own and humans with special powers, called Cetra, can speak directly with Gaia. Gaia creates protectors called Weapons to be summoned whenever Gaia feels threatened. The most powerful of these, the Omega, can transport Gaia's Lifestream to the cosmos when Gaia inevitably dies like all organisms.
Minerva seems to have a connection to the will of Gaia, apparently being the embodiment of the Lifestream, but this is not elaborated on.
- See also: Final Fantasy VII/Timeline
Approximately 2000 years before the start of Final Fantasy VII, Gaia was home to an ancient nomadic group of people called the Cetra who were close to their homeworld, and could communicate with it. One day, a shape-shifting extraterrestrial being crashed into the northern continent, causing a massive wound on Gaia's surface that would become called the North Crater. The alien used her power to take the form of Cetra and trick their loved ones into letting their guard down. It injected its cells into the Cetra, twisting and corrupting them, even mutating them into monsters.
The alien destroyed most of the Cetra until what remained of their number sealed her away. Humans, a branch of the Cetra who had abandoned their nomadic ways and built permanent settlements, largely survived the calamity, and became the dominant race on Gaia. The Cetra, now called the Ancients by humans, were reduced to almost nothing but legend, the only signs of their existence being the ruins called the Forgotten Capital on the northern continent.
Overtime, the Planet gathered and emitted a mass of Spirit Energy around the North Crater in an attempt to heal this wound. Because most of the Cetra were killed by Jenova, there weren't many to cultivate new life and thus new spirit energy for the Planet. As a result, the wound healed slowly and it still remains 2,000 years after the calamity.
2000 years after the calamity, humans have inhabited Gaia. A former weapons manufacturer, the Shinra Electric Power Company run by President Shinra, discovered a way to harness Gaia's Lifestream to create Mako energy and humans built titanic mechanical wonders, such as the metropolis of Midgar on the eastern continent. Unknown to most of the populace harvesting Mako sucks the lifeblood out of Gaia, and the world is slowly dying and the area around Midgar becomes a dead-zone.
In their search for more Mako energy, Shinra hopes to find the fabled Promised Land of Cetra legend and hunts for the Cetra's remnants. During their search they exhumed the sealed alien creature and named it Jenova. Thinking Jenova to be an "Ancient", Shinra started the Jenova Project to breed a human with Cetra powers. The company grew from a mere corporation to the world's de facto ruler and the only state that continues to oppose Shinra was Wutai, but after the Wutai War Shinra takes over that territory as well, and holds complete control over Gaia.
Following Shinra's conquest of Wutai, two separate threats appeared to oppose its rule. AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist army, wants to destroy Shinra and save Gaia from the threat pose by Mako energy. An AVALANCHE commander called Fuhito betrays the organization and summons a monster known as Zirconiade. A group of Shinra defectors from the Turks, a Shinra secret agent force, defeats Zirconiade in the Midgar Slums. At the same time, Genesis Rhapsodos, a member of Shinra's special forces, the SOLDIER, and a child of the Jenova Project, also defects from Shinra and leads an army of his copies to fight the corporation and his former SOLDIER friends in the Genesis War.
During all this Sephiroth, Jenova's "son" and the strongest of all SOLDIERs, goes insane and destroys the town of Nibelheim. A Shinra guard named Cloud Strife watches his hometown burn and defeats Sephiroth in the local Mako Reactor. Sephiroth falls into the Lifestream and is believed dead. Genesis is later defeated by a SOLDIER named Zack Fair and is captured by Shinra and used in new experiments.
Five years after he was defeated in Nibelheim, Sephiroth returns from the dead by exerting his will from the Lifestream. Taking over Jenova's body and forcing her into his form, Sephiroth kills President Shinra. Rufus Shinra succeeds his father and goes after Sephiroth. Cloud Strife and a party of his friends follow Sephiroth around Gaia and among the party is the last surviving Cetra, Aerith Gainsborough.
During the search, Sephiroth kills Aerith and ends the race of the Cetra. Sephiroth's goal is to summon Meteor to inflict a massive wound unto Gaia, and take control of the Spirit Energy Gaia would summon to heal itself. With the Black Materia Sephiroth summons the Meteor.
Facing destruction, Gaia summons its protectors, the Weapons, but they fail to stop Sephiroth and instead destroy Shinra Headquarters ending Shinra's rule. Cloud and his party defeat Sephiroth, but as Meteor speeds towards Midgar it is stopped by the ultimate White Magic spell Holy, though the colliding forces destroy Midgar and some of the surrounding area. During the confrontation, the Lifestream wells up and pushes Meteor out into space, allowing Holy to destroy it. This event is known as "Meteorfall" by the survivors.
Midgar is finished as the world capital. Shinra is replaced as the governing body by the World Regenesis Organization (WRO) with funding from the former president of Shinra, Rufus. Two years following Sephiroth and Jenova's defeat the remnants of their power come upon the world as Geostigma, a plague upon mankind. Three "pieces of Sephiroth" appear, hunting for Jenova's remains to revive their "older brother". Kadaj, the leader, fuses with Jenova's particles in the ruins of Midgar recreating Sephiroth to rain destruction upon Gaia. Cloud battles the resurrected Sephiroth and defeats his old nemesis once more.
A year later, Deepground, Shinra's last secret, attacks mankind. Deepground was a secret organization based below Midgar who were trapped after Meteorfall. Their return marks a conflict between the WRO and Deepground, culminating in the Battle of Midgar. Vincent Valentine, a member of Cloud's party and target of Deepground, descends deep into Midgar and defeats the Deepground leaders, but Deepground summons the Omega Weapon. Vincent transforms into Chaos and defeats Omega, saving Gaia.
There are only three known sentient races on Gaia: humanoids, such as the Cetra and humans; and Red XIII's Species, who have far longer lifespans but have never been known to build civilizations, existing only in small numbers. Moogles exist as legendary creatures. Outside of worship of Gaia itself, and Wutai's worship of the summon Leviathan, no other established religions are known, although there exists a church in Midgar Slums. The ancient epic LOVELESS mentions a goddess.
The world's calendar is the same as the real world Gregorian calendar with twelve months of the same name and 365 days. Final Fantasy VII takes place in late 0007, early 0008, about ten years after the date of its real-world release. There is a day of celebration at the end of December similar to Christmas. The world is divided into time zones since the Midgar trains run on Midgar Standard Time.
Final Fantasy VII's world is modern and similar to our own, with television, cellphones, cars, planes, and modern amenities that require power sources, such as Mako energy. Before Mako, the town of Corel was a coal exporter, and after Mako the people returned to fossil fuels. Only the major cities enjoy the benefits of high technology, while the smaller towns are stuck in a less developed state. Thanks to easy transportation, several towns are tourist areas, such as the beach town of Costa del Sol, the resort of Wutai Village, and the ski-slopes of Icicle Inn. During the Meteor crisis mankind sends a manned-rocket into space. Modern armies and fleets of airships have also been shown.
Inside the city are many sub-locations:
The entire northern continent is in the Icicle Area.
Gaia was the goddess or personification of Earth in ancient Greek religion, one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia was the mother of all: the heavenly gods, the Titans and the Giants were born from her union with Uranus (the sky), while the sea-gods were born from her union with Pontus (the sea). The Greek word "γαῖα" (transliterated as gaia or gaea) is a collateral form of "γῆ" meaning Earth. Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was named Gaea (Terra in more ancient documents). This is alluded to in Final Fantasy IX with the existence of Gaia's twin world.
The mythological name Gaia was revived in 1979 by James Lovelock, whose Gaia hypothesis proposes that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth's biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions. This theory is especially alluded to in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within's take on Gaia as the planet's soul.
The name "Gaia" has not been attributed to the Planet in any official Final Fantasy VII media, the sole usage of the word in reference to the Planet being the location Gaea's Cliff. However, it has sparsely been used in promotional materials for the series. The first usage of the name came in promotional material for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which referred to the planet as Gaia. On the official website for Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, the hangman game in the tribute section of the website refers to the game's setting as the planet Gaia. In 2012, Square Enix launched their North American website for the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary, which introduced the numbered Final Fantasy games; in the world's bio for Final Fantasy VII is identified as Gaia. Final Fantasy All the Bravest also refers to the Planet as Gaia in the description for the Ultimate Weapon enemy.
Despite being known as Gaia in these materials, the Planet has only ever been referred to as 星 (Hoshi?) in the Japanese releases and related material.
- A Final Fantasy VII pre-release image showing Highwind on the world map reveals a house that does not exist in the final game, situated between Kalm and Chocobo Farm. It is unknown whether the house was put there just for the screenshot, of if it was an actual location planned for the game.
- Much of Gaia's nature, such as its relation to living things, were also in the CGI movie, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. These ideas are called the Gaia Theory.
- In the 3D versions of Final Fantasy IV, the scene between Anna's ghost and Edward makes an allusion to something similar to Gaia. Anna mentions a "spirit" which calls her onward to "become part of it again", similar to how all life returns to Gaia once it dies.
- In Final Fantasy X-2, Square Enix dropped hints of a connection between Gaia and Spira, as Shinra and Rin discuss the potential of the Farplane as an energy source, though Shinra states the technology to safely and successfully refine energy from the Farplane would not be developed for generations. This connection is confirmed in the Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania guide, where Kazushige Nojima states Rin would fund Shinra's efforts to refine energy from the Farplane using the remains of Vegnagun, but failed. His descendants, a thousand years later when space travel was developed, would travel to Gaia and found the Shinra Electric Power Company.
- ↑ "Kazushige Nojima: '...After quitting the Gullwings, Shinra received enormous financial support from Rin, and began trying to use Vegnagun to siphon Mako Energy from the Farplane. But, he is unable to complete the system for utilizing this energy in his generation, and in the future, when traveling to distant planets becomes possible, the Shinra Company is founded on another world, or something like that....... That would happen about 1000 years after this story, I think.'" Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania Interview with FFX-2 creators, Page 723. Final Fantasy Forums