Where in the World Is Harran From "Dying Light"?
Harran is a beautiful city set in a lush tropical setting and also happens to be a zombie enthusiasts dream destination. With luscious views, beautiful architecture, and zombies coming out the wazoo there seems to be only a singular problem: Where in the world is this city? Many want to know and Techland is remaining tightlipped about the fictional locations whereabouts, preferring to keep it an ambiguous it could be anywhere city. Even on the promotional Harran City website there is not even the slightest bit of information hinting at the cities location. Hope is not lost though, as there are clues throughout the game and early development that point to the city's location: Brazil.
A theory is going around the internet recently, people are claiming the that Harran is based in Turkey. This misconception comes from people missing the "This is a work of fiction, any correlation to anything in the real world is purely coincidental" disclaimer at the beginning of the game. Along with only doing a brief Google search and finding the city of Harran, Turkey.
There are several problems arise with this theory, the largest being that Harran, Turkey is a landlocked town in the middle of a Mesopotamia, a desert. More over nothing about Harran, Turkey remotely fits the Dying Light's Harran. It's culture, people, and architecture do not resemble what is present in the game. On Reddit when this is discussed people from Turkey say the city looks nothing like anything in Turkey?
Where then is the city? Our first clue comes from early development of the game where it was announced to be set in South America, but of course things change as development goes on, so do we have any evidence that this remained true up until launch? A close comparison of Rio De Janeiro to the city of Hannan both in Topography and appearance bear remarkable similarities.
One large criticism of the Rio De Janeiro theory proposed by those who believe that Harran is based in Turkey comes with the Islamic Architecture and Arab/Muslim populatin found in Dying Light. Here is where it gets interesting, South America has a significant Arab population. They are a minority but they are present in South America with certain cities hosting large populations of them. Brazil has seen 11 million immigrants from the Lebenon and Syria (mostly Christians) over the years, most live in the São Paulo region, but a significant number of Arabs live in Rio De Janeiro. Before immigration Brazil had a large population of African Muslim as well.
Arab's have had a large impact on Brazil. Textiles in the country have a large Arab influence, there are even mosques dotting the São Paulo. Rio De Janeiro hosts a couple mosques as well. Habib's a food chain that serves Arab food is the second largest food chain in Brazil. It is no wonder that when designing the city of Harran, there would be a significant Arab influence in it's design, given the significant influence Arabs have in Brazil today.
Climate and Topography of Harran in Dying Light are unique an closely mirror the beautiful landscapes of Rio De Janeiro. For the city to be in Turkey it would have to be in one of the countries Mediterranean Climates, which the city of Harran, Turkey is not. Harran is fictious, so the location of the city might be on the coast of Turkey, but this theory falls apart when one takes in the beautiful foliage, that sadly does not grow in Turkey.
Characters in Dying Light can be typically seen dawning a garb with a South American feel. T-Shirts are common, jeans come in camo, cargo shorts are not uncommon, and what little Arab garb there is, is only worn by a minority of characters, on par with the percentage of Arabs in Brazil. Now Turkey is a modern nation, but the difference in fabrics and clothing choices are more leaning toward a South American over Euro-Asian design to them.
In game there are a few hints to the city's inspiration. Harran has played host to major sporting events, the Harran Games. Rio De Janeiro similarly is famous for hosting several sporting events including the 2007 Pan American Games, the 2011 Military Games, Rio's Champion Cup (a Tennis Championship), and is set to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Paralympics. Both cities have a pension for sports, but there is one more hint in game.
When you undertake the Seachlights mission in Dying Light you have to venture to Chaos Bridge to retrieve large UV lightbulbs from a failed project. As Crane and Aflie are discussing the mission they are talking about the early days of Harran's Quarantine and the project on the bridge. The UV lights were referred to as the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Thus ruling out that Turkey can be the nation that houses Harran.
After all the research into the fictional city of Harran, Brazil, and Rio, I can only come to the conclusion that the city is inspired by Rio De Janeiro and that the city in Dying Light is located on the Brazilian Coast. One last interesting tidbit about Brazil, it's Ministry of Defense like the Dying Lights equivalent does control the nation's entire military and would be the ones handling the Harran outbreak and containment.