Battle Angel Alita is set in the Earth of the 26th century. The primary location for the early part of the series was the Scrapyard, a metropolis of unspecified size which is beneath the massive aerial city of Tiphares. Tiphares itself is suspended from an orbital ring which surrounds the Earth. After a ten year time skip, the story expands past the Scrapyard to the desert areas surrounding it which are referred to as the Badlands. The manga originally ended in Tiphares and in the space city of Ketheres Elyion. The mangas Ashen Victor and Gunnm: Another Stories are set in the Scrapyard and the Badlands. In terms of chronology, the story within these three mangas takes place just over the span of 20 years.
The setting is greatly expanded in Last Order, which reveals that humans have colonized much of the Solar System. There are three dominant powers: the Jupiter System Union, the République Vénus, and LADDER, the Solar System Treaty Mediatory Council, which is based in Ketheres. Additionally, Mars and various moons and asteroids have also been colonized. Last Order also reveals how the current state of the Solar System came to be and depicts events going back several centuries.
The new dating convention introduced in Last Order counts the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 as Year 0. The events of Battle Angel Alita were established by Yukito Kishiro as having begun in ES 576, or 2532. Last Order begins in ES 591.
Following the advent of space travel, humans emigrated to other planets, asteroids, and moons, colonizing much of the Solar System.
Earth is part of an entity called the Earth Orbitary Federation that includes the moon, now known as Luna. Civilization was nearly wiped out completely by the Geo Catastrophe of ES 55 which triggered an impact winter which lasted for 70 years. Survivors existed in isolated communities. After the impact winter ended in ES 126, a large metropolis, Star City, was constructed near the former Kansas City, Missouri. It was eventually connected to Tiphares. Over time and as a result of the Terraforming Wars, during which the Earth was allied with Venus, Star City became the Scrapyard and its purpose evolved into supplying and serving Tiphares. Both cities were eventually cut off from the rest of Earth. In space, the planet is surrounded by an orbital ring which includes Ketheres at one end. Although two cities were revealed to exist at the diametrically opposite end, Binhar and Nezher, which respectively correspond to Ketheres and Tiphares, the degree of resettlement over the rest of the Earth has not been specified.
The Jupiter System Union declared independence in ES 300, 50 years after the République Vénus. The Jovians used 13 of the planet's 16 moons to provide materials for the Troposphere Project, a giant shell surrounding Jupiter to provide living space which remains incomplete. The Jovians faced the Earth and Venus during the Terraforming Wars. They have adopted a uniform appearance as machine-like cyborgs and are known for developing highly advanced technology and having a formidable military.
Mars is Alita's birth place. Emigration to Mars actually began just before the Geo Catastrophe. However the planet's hospitable climate led to oversettling, resulted in civil war that exists up to the present. Four factions are battling for control. Three of them are each backed by one of the Solar System's superpowers, while a neo-Nazi revivalist faction has recently joined the scene. The Martians have a diverse population who largely retain a human appearance.
Although Jean Vares constructed his hideout on Pluto, the planet's extremely harsh conditions have apparently precluded other human settlement.
The République Vénus was founded in ES 250 shortly after the first Venusian space colonies were built in orbit. The Venusians were allied with Earth during the Terraforming Wars. They are known for developing highly sophisticated biotechnology to fulfill a variety of purposes. This includes genetic manipulation of their own bodies to produce a physical form that primarily consists of the head, with near residual arms and legs. Venus previously had some degree of control over Mercury, now known as Mercurius, the surface of which has been transformed into gray goo.
Settlements exist on various moons and asteroids, particularly in the main asteroid belt.