District 13 is one of the thirteen districts of Panem, and for a 75 year period between the First and Second Rebellions, an independent nation. Located in far northeastern part of the country, District 13 was widely thought to have been destroyed by the Capitol during the First Rebellion (74 years prior to the events of The Hunger Games trilogy).
The Capitol claimed that the district had been uninhabitable ever since, due to the chemical bombs that were dropped on it; during subsequent television broadcasts, the ruins of the district were shown to still be smoldering. It is later revealed, however, that these broadcasts were faked: District 13 had actually struck a secret deal with the Capitol and was allowed to secede from Panem.
The general public knew that District 13's industry was graphite mining, and while they did mine the substance on a small scale, their primary industry was nuclear science and technology. After the district was supposedly destroyed, the Capitol promoted graphite mining as 13's only industry as a further part of its propaganda regime. This is similar to how District 2's main industry is masonry, but the Capitol attempted to conceal the fact that Peacekeepers were also trained and equipped there.
Little is known about District 13's early history, other than it was founded as one of the original thirteen administrative districts of the nation of Panem. The country's military-industrial complex was originally based there, and it was a center for the development and production of nuclear weapons, technology, and science. The region also possessed a number of graphite mines, and the extraction of this material was a secondary industry for District 13.
Along with the other twelve districts of Panem, District 13 presumably suffered oppression by the Capitol for an indeterminate amount of time, which ultimately culminated in the outbreak of the First Rebellion. While the exact cause of the civil war is unknown, District 13's status as the nation's primary weapons manufacturer made it a formidable threat to the Capitol's power.
What specifically happened during the rebellion is also unknown, but following a failed invasion of the Capitol, the tide turned against the rebel forces. Realizing that a rebel victory was unachievable, District 13 trained their nuclear missiles on the Capitol, threatening to destroy the city. Knowing that the Capitol possessed a secondary weapons stockpile in the west of the country, District 13 negotiated a peace treaty under threat of mutually assured destruction: By allowing District 13 to quietly secede from Panem and become an independent state, the citizens would withdraw all support for the rebels in the other districts and pretend to have been completely destroyed. Not wanting a nuclear war that could potentially wipe out the entire country, the Capitol reluctantly agreed to the terms.
As such, District 13 evacuated all of its forces and population to a series of underground bunkers, while the Capitol obliterated all above-ground infrastructure through repeated aerial bombardment. With the loss of their military support, the rebellion collapsed in the face of the Capitol's overwhelming superiority, a period that became known as the Dark Days. Despite failing to secure freedom for the nation, District 13 would continue to fortify its position over the following decades, in preparation to eventually liberate the remaining twelve districts from the tyranny of the Capitol.
A significant part of the Snow family fortune was invested in District 13 munitions, thus their wealth was almost entirely wiped out in the wake of the First Rebellion. Coriolanus Snow's grandmother initially brushed this off, saying that they had plenty of other assets, but this was far from the truth.
Katniss Everdeen recalls that graphite mining was an industry in District 13 before it was obliterated and that when the district is occasionally shown on television it's still smoldering from the toxic bombs dropped on it by the Capitol.
Bonnie and Twill, two refugees from an uprising in District 8, encountered Katniss Everdeen in the woods outside of District 12, and said that they are trying to reach District 13. When Katniss is initially confused as to why they would want to go to there if it's nothing but a ruin, they explained their theory that the destruction story might not be completely true: Whenever the Capitol shows television footage of District 13, the ruins are indeed always smoldering. While this does tie in with the Capitol's official position that the area is still uninhabitable, Bonnie and Twill realized that the exact same Mockingjay made an appearance in every broadcast, even in ones supposedly filmed years apart. This reveals that the Capitol never actually shows the current state of the district, but simply replays old footage with a different reporter spliced in. Bonnie and Twill believed that the district was still inhabited, with the people living underground. They also expressed the belief that the Capitol may have left District 13 alone in the first place because of the district's specialty in nuclear weaponry- up until this point, Katniss was apparently unaware that 13 ever had nuclear weapons, but realized that her only information on the subject came from the Capitol itself. Although she is slow to accept Bonnie and Twill's theory, Katniss begins to review footage of the old broadcasts and realizes that they were right about the Mockingjay, which leads her to wonder what's actually in the district. Following her rescue from the Hunger Games Arena at the end of the Third Quarter Quell, Katniss learns that not only is District 13 still inhabited, but that it is being used as the base for a new Rebellion.
Upon Katniss' arrival in District 13, she learns a fuller history of the place: Due to the non-aggression pact they established with the Capitol seventy-five years earlier, District 13 has remained politically independent and isolated from the rest of Panem. In exchange for this freedom, they promised not to attack the Capitol and start a nuclear war, terms that the Capitol was willing to accept in order to prevent massive destruction and loss of life. As a result of their political isolation, District 13 has never participated in The Hunger Games.
After this agreement was reached, the Capitol cut off all outside access to the district and demolished the visible remains above ground. This allowed them to falsely display the ruins of the district to the rest of Panem, to remind them of the consequences of rebelling against the Capitol. The Capitol may have believed that, with no outside support, District 13 would simply die off. Indeed, the inhabitants struggled for some time just to stay alive, and despite their hoarded arsenal of weaponry, Boggs made it clear to Katniss that they were in no position to take on the Capitol again until very recently. It is also mentioned that there was a pox outbreak District 13 some years prior to Katniss' arrival, lowering the population and making most of the survivors infertile (for that reason, District 13 was eager to accept refugees during the Second Rebellion. - as Dalton, a refugee from District 10 put it - for "breeding stock"). Unsurprisingly, there were very few children in the District. In order to survive, the people of District 13 had developed innovative technologies that allowed them to maximize available resources, as well as a strict, militaristic lifestyle that emphasized frugality and a constant readiness to defend themselves against potential attacks.
When District 13 gained its independence, it also retained control of its valuable arsenal of nuclear weaponry, and the non-aggression pact with the Capitol ensured its safety from outside threats. When the people relocated underground, they began developing and manufacturing new types of weaponry and continued to do so for the armed forces during the Second Rebellion.
After the third Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen, Finnick Odair, and Beetee were rescued from the arena and brought to District 13, along with the survivors from the bombing of District 12. The tributes then trained for their roles in the Second Rebellion: Katniss served as the symbol and rallying point for the districts, Beetee created specialized weaponry and infiltrated the Capitol's computer network, and Finnick performed in a special propaganda film to help distract the Capitol while Peeta Mellark, Johanna Mason, and Annie Cresta were rescued from imprisonment.
During an interview with Caesar Flickerman, Peeta warned District 13 on live TV that the Capitol was going to bomb the district. This gave them a ten-minute head start to the bunkers. The Capitol saw through this act, and Peeta was whipped and tortured as punishment.
District 13 played a valuable role in securing freedom for the entire nation throughout the Second Rebellion, through its roles as a weapons supplier and communications center. The district also provided air support to the rebels, most notably in the Bombing of the Nut (District 2) and the Bombing of the Capitol.
Citizens of District 13 live a highly regimented life: Every morning, each citizen gets a temporary tattoo on the underside of their arm that shows their daily schedule. The schedule displays, in 24-hour time, where to be and what activities are to be performed at specific times. After a certain time, the ink breaks down and can be washed off in preparation for the following day.
Activities such as meals - which are normally taken communally - are scheduled regularly every day and participated in by all citizens. Other activities can vary significantly and depend on several factors: Children under the age of 14 attend school, taking classes on history and other subjects. Depending on their background, children may have other duties in addition to schooling- Primrose Everdeen assisted in the District's hospital. If you are over 14, you qualify for the rank of "soldier" and receive military training in addition to some educational sessions. Activities for adults appear to be more specialized-when the refugees from District 12 arrived, Mrs. Everdeen was assigned to the hospital (due to her healing background) and Greasy Sae to the kitchens. At some point during the day, citizens are given 30 minutes of downtime with family (i.e. "Reflection").
Although schedules are not usually subject to change - at least not changes requested by citizens - Katniss Everdeen insisted on several conditions before she agreed to help the rebellion, some of which involved scheduling: In District 13, people were not allowed to have outside pets (as a precaution), but Katniss asked that her younger sister, Prim, be to keep the cat named Buttercup she took care of in District 12 in exchange for being the rebels Mockingjay. Buttercup is let outside to find food, but his comings and goings were strictly controlled, and if he had caused any security problems, he would have been shot on sight. If he missed curfew, he would be locked out.
Katniss also requested special hunting time. President Coin accepted but stipulated that she could only hunt within a strict quarter-mile radius for a time span of two hours and had to use the game that they, she and Gale, caught for the kitchen in District 13. They each had a tracking device attached to their ankle.
Weddings in District 13 are relatively low-key events with the couple signing a marriage certificate and being assigned a compartment for them to share. Due to their strict, frugal lifestyle, the citizens are not much prone to celebration, and Katniss muses that they seem to have no holidays at all (something that even the poverty-stricken citizens of District 12 indulged in).
As District 13 was formerly the center of Panem's military-industrial complex (prior to the First Rebellion), this meant that the District was the primary weapons supplier to the armed forces of the nation. Its military might played a crucial role in both the First and Second Rebellion, in supporting the other districts to successfully launch an armed insurrection against the Capitol.
During its 75 years as an independent state, District 13 was mentioned to have continued building upon its armed forces and military technology. In addition to its seized pile of nuclear weapons, District 13 also possesses a fleet of hovercraft, with some of it formerly belonging to the Capitol's Peacekeeping Force.
All able-bodied citizens of District 13 ages fourteen and above are obliged to serve in its armed forces, with its standard-issue infantry rifle being the Heckler & Koch G36K rifle.
- It is stated that District 13 is in the Northeast region. The only major deposit of graphite in North America is near Lake Huron in Canada.
- District 13 is the only district to never take part in a Hunger Games event.
- Districts 2 and 13 are the only districts with dual industries, though no other district knew about its second primary industry. District 12 also has dual industries but only after the Second Rebellion. However, nuclear energy and graphite mining are closely related, as graphite is one of the most important components of a nuclear reactor.
- In its prime, District 13 may have been one of the larger districts: One reason Bonnie and Twill didn't fully believe the graphite story was that the mines themselves were small and few in number, and the population of 13 was known to be much larger than what small scale mining actually required.
- District 13 is the only known district to be located underground, though it originally existed above ground before the First Rebellion.
- District 13 was the starting point of the First Rebellion and in some ways of the Second Rebellion.
- District 13 is one of the three known districts to be bombed during the Second Rebellion (District 8 and District 12 were also bombed).
- It is stated by Prim in the third film that District 13 had an epidemic a few years ago that made President Coin lose her daughter and her husband. This could be the pox outbreak that Katniss said had occurred.
- Catching Fire, Chapter 10
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 1
- The Hunger Games, Chapter 1
- The Hunger Games, Chapter 6
- Mockingjay, Chapter 2
- Mockingjay, Chapter 3