The Hunger Games trilogy is set in some indeterminate time in the future…a time after great disasters and droughts. Early in the Hunger Games, Mayor Undersee reads the history of Panem (an annual ritual at the Reapings). It reads: “He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts…”
Some details are provided about the nature of some of the districts, but it’s hard to get a visual on what Panem is like, how big it is and how vast (or not) the districts themselves may be. Panem, we know is located in North America. There are now only 12 districts (district 13 having been destroyed) where there used to be 30 states and provinces. We know that District 12 is small with a population of 8,000. It feels like everybody knows each other, and most residents can fit in the public square during reapings. The only buildings we hear about in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are courthouses, mayor’s homes and government buildings. There are no skyscrapers, large downtowns or suburban sprawl anymore. All the major cities could have been completely destroyed.
But while the districts might be small, it seems the land in which they reside is still quite large. We know the trains that take Katniss and Peeta around Panem travel at 250 mph. We also know that District 7 and District 10 are en route from District 12 to the Capitol. Here are some notes I’ve compiled about the things we know about Panem, the districts and some of the people who live there. (SPOILER ALERT - some of the details come from Catching Fire, just in case you haven’t finished reading it yet)
Capitol - It says explicitly in The Hunger Games that the Capitol is in the Rocky Mountains. As in the other districts, it is likely that people in this area are named by the things around them. For example, mountains are snow-capped, giving us President Snow.
District 1- Luxury Items – This district is known for supplying the Capitol with its luxury goods. The boy tribute, Marvel, is killed by Katniss (her first kill) and he killed Rue. The girl, Glimmer, is killed by tracker jacker stings.
District 2 – Industry unknown – however the two tributes are Clove and Cato. Clove is a spice grown from a specific evergreen that only grows in warm climates, native to humid areas specifically. Cato is killed when Katniss shoots his hand and Peeta pushes him into the horn of cornucopia and he falls. The muttations feed on him all night until Katniss finally shoots him to put him out of his misery. Clove is killed by Thresh, saving Katniss’s life.
District 3 Factories, electronics and explosives. Wiress & Beetee, as well as the boy who re-creates the land mines in the Hunger Games, are from District 3. The boy tribute (name not known) was killed by Cato because he did his job a bit too well setting up the mines from the platforms to protect supplies. Girl (also unnamed) dies on first day.
District 4 - Fishing. Tributes from this district excel at swimming, and it is indicated they come from a warm climate (Finnick is shirtless much of the time). In The Hunger Games the boy tribute dies the first day at Cornucopia. The girl was killed from Katniss dropping the tracker jacker hive/nest on her.
District 5- Industry unknown – The boy tribute dies on the first day. Peeta kills Foxface accidently with poisonous berries.
District 6 – Transportation – what we do know is that in Catching Fire, Twill and Bonnie, were able to jump the train outside District 6 and walk in a matter of days to District 12. This means it would have to be reasonably close to District 12. Both tributes from District 6 died on the first day.
District 7 – Lumber/Trees – nothing is really known about this district. Both tributes died on the first day of the Hunger Games. Johanna Mason though, is dressed as a tree for the parade before the Quarter Quell.
District 8- Textiles/Clothing – In Catching Fire we meet the refugees from District 8, Twill and Bonnie, names that coincide with the main industry of their district. They describe it as being “chilly”. Katniss remembers that it was an “ugly, urban place…with no chance to learn the ways of nature.”
District 9- Generates Electricity – The boy tribute died the first day. The girl died on the morning of the second day; she was the one who lit the fire under/near Katnniss’s tree and led the Careers to her.
District 10- Livestock / Cattle – Katniss mentions that the District 10 tributes are dressed as cows with glowing belts. It’s unknown how the boy tribute died, but it was in the morning of the day Katniss blows up the Caeers’ supplies. The girl tribute died on the first day.
District 11- Agriculture/Orchards – Rue specifically cites orchards, and climbing trees. When traveling to District 11 on the Victory Tour, Katniss observes an extreme temperature difference — the snow where she is from against it being quite warm in winter. Katniss also wonders how far south they’ve traveled on the train. Cato kills Thresh while the District 1 boy kills Rue.
District 12- Coal Mining – This district is described as being in the area formerly known as Appalachia. The district is also pretty compact compared to some others with a population of just 8,000 people. There is one big clue to where district 12 might be, that we don’t get from reading the book, but from listening to Suzanne Collins read it. She reads Katniss with a southern accent.
District 13- Graphite Mining / Nuclear Power – There is speculation that some of the inhabitants may have moved underground after the district was destroyed. It is also described as once being the furthermost district, beyond District 12 (in its absence, District 12 is described as “the end of the line”).
Category: The Books