From the introduction:
Welcome to the world of Final Fantasy 8. This unnamed planet is much like our own during the mid to late twentieth century, only with the addition of monsters and magic. With the later being extraordinarily rare, humanity has fought off the hordes of creatures descending from moon solely with their intelligence and technology, explaining its high rate of development. The planet is ruled by two superpowers, one in the east and one in the west. The western continent of Galbadia is controlled by a nation of the same name, an oppressive dictatorship with plenty of military might. The eastern continent of Esthar is controlled by another nation with the same name, a secretive nation with highly advanced, futuristic technology that hid itself from the world once the tyrant Sorceress that ruled it was felled seventeen years ago. All is not peaceful, with Galbadia mopping up the last of the independent powers in the world, war still occurs in this world, which leaves plenty of room for mercenaries like the SeeD, an organization which uses para-magic to outpower larger forces. You start the day a young man named Squall Leonhart loses his last duel with his rival Seifer Almasy, and soon the world will be thrown into great turmoil, war, and strife that will decide the fate of all of time and reality.