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This article may seem complete to the untrained eye, but the gaps in information are still large enough for this elite team of Panauan Ninjas to hide inside of.
They're the administrative units that compose San Esperito. Most provinces contain two villages, a Military base and two Cartel villas. Some provinces are separated from the main islands and can only be reached by aircraft or boat. Examples are Provincia de Rio Negro and Provincia Los Islas, which can only be reached by boat or aircraft.
Also certain provinces may have more settlements of one type than another province. Provincia Aguilar has no military settlements at all but mainly civilian settlements and is one of the few which are easy to takeover in terms of both cartel and village liberations. Provincia Octavia is known mainly for Mendoza International Airport which is one of the biggest settlements and also the only airport which has a name for it. Some provinces will be more valuable than others like La Perdida which plays host to Nuevo Estocolmo and the only military base which has a Rage-Johnston F6 Comet; the most rarest plane in game. Most provinces have an airfield as well. Sometimes provinces may be separated by a river or a large cliff drop, which can only be crossed by a bridge. Knowing your way around the provinces is an excellent way to get around them and find settlements etc.
Liberations and mission availabilityEdit
At the beginning of the game, all provinces are under government control - government stable. At this point you can complete sidemissions for the Guerrillas, but there's no way to take over (liberate) any government controlled settlements. As the story progresses these slowly become politically unstable. This unlocks the Liberation missions, which allow Rico to help the guerrillas to take over government settlements. The last government controlled settlement in any province is automatically taken over by the guerrillas when all others have been liberated. When all settlements in a province are taken over, the province becomes guerrilla stable.
Guerrilla sidemissions; Cartel Villa take-overs and Rioja Cartel sidemissions are always available, regardless of the political stability. That's because the conflict between the Riojas and Montanos doesn't affect the political stability of San Esperito. Guerrilla sidemissions do count towards a tenth of the control of a province, but doing more than a certain amount will stop the count, so liberations still have to be done. There is no way around it.
However, being "guerrilla stable" does not eliminate the San Esperito Police Department from the province. It just means that there will be so many Guerrilla patrol cars and Delta 5H4 Boxhead attack helicopters around that the government forces will no longer be a major threat, unless you gain maximum Heat. The military seem to be the most aggressive at any heat level in Isla San Cristobal, probably due to the military fort on the island (but also proximity to the island will result in instant heat level 5). Even after said province is completely taken over, the island of San Cristobal will always have fights between the San Esperito Military and Guerrillas.
This video shows how to liberate a town and keep a military vehicle that you used during combat.