Panem is a sovereign state that was established sometime after a series of ecological disasters and a global conflict brought about the collapse of modern civilization. It is situated primarily in North America, consisting of a federal district, the Capitol, and thirteen outlying districts.
For presumably the majority of its existence, Panem's government operated as an authoritarian-totalitarian dictatorship and a police state, with the outlying Districts subservient to the Capitol, expected to provide economic and material services in exchange for protection provided by the Capitol's armies of Peacekeepers. Years of brutal oppression faced by the districts led to the start of civil war known as the First Rebellion, led by District 13. The failure of it, brought about the Dark Days, as well as a sadistic annual event known as the Hunger Games, established as a continual reminder of the failed past insurrection and to never make an attempt at it again. Public executions and whippings, severe restrictions on civil rights, and mass surveillance, become common in Panem, if not more so, in the years that followed.
President Snow, the most recent and last of Panem's line of dictators, served as the country's president for over 25 years until the outbreak of the Second Rebellion following the 75th Hunger Games. After the the overthrow of the Snow regime, Panem was transformed into a democratic constitutional republic, led by Commander Paylor. It is portrayed in the trilogy to be the dominant society in North America, and no other nations or civilized societies beyond Panem have been mentioned, so it is unknown if any exist at all.
The name Panem derives from the Latin phrase panem et circenses, which literally translates into 'bread and circuses'. The phrase itself is used to describe entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters. Furthermore, by the government providing ample food and entertainment, the citizens would give up their political rights.
According to the Capitol, Panem has a population of 4,556,778 people. However, adding up the known populations of the Capitol and 12 districts gives it a total of only 1,905,286 people.
Location and Geography
Panem is located on the continent of North America, with its territory encompassing areas formerly controlled by the former United States, Canada, and Mexico. The administrative center of the country, the Capitol, is located in the Rocky Mountains. Each one of its thirteen outlying districts are situated across the continent.
The size of the country is known not to be as large as North America today, given that, according to Katniss, large areas of land (across the world) were flooded by rising sea level. Nevertheless, maps of Panem indicate it is about as large as the former contiguous United States, spanning from the east coast to the west coast of North America and extending north and south into areas formerly controlled by Canada and Mexico respectively.
For much of its history, Panem was run by a totalitarian dictatorship, led by a president who possessed all the governing power. The only known presidents of Panem are Coriolanus Snow, Alma Coin, and Commander Paylor. Previous presidents are unknown, however, Coriolanus Snow was mentioned to have been the president during the 50th Hunger Games, meaning he held power for over 25 years. Originally composed of the Capitol and 13 districts, the First Rebellion resulted in the apparent destruction (in reality, secession) of District 13.
With all major industries under direct governmental oversight and control, Panem operates as a communist state. Each district is assigned a particular industry, and the citizens have little freedom to choose careers. Free markets, such as the Hob in District 12, are illegal although useful in alleviating the extreme poverty of citizens. With the exception of Districts 1, 2, 4, and 5, the rest of the districts live in abject poverty. All trade and commerce between the districts is generally forbidden, as most of the districts produced goods are sent to the Capitol.
Law enforcement is provided through a military force known as the Peacekeepers. With most soldiers coming from District 2, each District's Garrison is headed by a Head Peacekeeper, who is responsible for enforcing the laws of Panem.
Following the overthrow of the Snow regime in Mockingjay, Panem was restructured into a constitutional republic, with Commander Paylor as the first president.
Much of Panem's history is shrouded in mystery, though known history dates back approximately seventy-five years prior to the beginning of The Hunger Games trilogy.
An unspecified time before the current date, the face of the Earth changed and modern civilization was seemingly destroyed. It is unknown precisely what caused the "end of the world," but major landmasses changed shape as the sea level rose to unknown heights around the planet, hinting that North America became smaller and presumably the only inhabited landmass on Earth.
Some time after the end of the world as we knew it, a nation was established in North America that would soon come to be known as Panem. It is unknown precisely when Panem was established and how long it has existed, though it is certain that Panem has been around for more than seventy-five years, and it's entirely possible for it to be at least a century or two old.
Panem eventually grew large enough that it was segmented into thirteen separate districts, each responsible for producing goods of a particular industry to serve the growing needs of the nation, and all operating under the auspices of Panem's oppressive Capitol. Its exact method of expansion is unknown; it is possible that some of the separate districts may have even once been smaller, separate nations that were eventually annexed by Panem.
- Main article: Dark Days
Approximately seventy-four years before the events of The Hunger Games trilogy, the various districts of Panem rebelled against the Capitol, primarily due to the oppressive fashion in which the Capitol government ruled over the districts. It is unknown how long the rebellion lasted or the exact number of casualties on either side (although the Capitol claims that for every dead Capitol citizen, two rebels died), but by the end of the conflict, the Capitol had quelled the rebellion, defeating twelve of the districts and obliterating the thirteenth entirely.
- Main article: The Games
In the wake of the rebellion, the Capitol established the Hunger Games, an annual event in which twenty-four children between the ages of twelve and eighteen, one boy and one girl from each district, are chosen from a lottery and entered into a gladiatorial competition where they must fight each other to the death until only one remains standing.
The event served two purposes. The first was to demonstrate the overwhelming power the Capitol had over the districts by taking their children by force and forcing them to slay each other in a no-rules competition. It was proof that the Capitol's control over its people was so inexorable and unstoppable that they could do something so sadistic as to force the children of their conquered foes to slay each other in a battle royale. The second purpose was purely for entertainment. The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in the same vein as a reality show, its tributes practically considered celebrities and the events themselves dramatized and glorified.
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The second rebellion formed in the aftermath of the 74th Hunger Games. It was sparked by Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark's near double-suicide at the end of the games, which was interpreted as an act of rebellion by many residents of the districts. As a result, it caused many to rebel by the start of the 75th Hunger Games, which was also the 3rd Quarter Quell. During the Quarter Quell, in which past victors were reaped into the games, Katniss shot an arrow attached to a piece of wire, which was connected to a tree, into an imperfection in the force field surrounding the arena. The tree is then struck by lightning, which causes the force field to malfunction and stop working. She was rescued and transported to District 13, which had been rebuilt as an underground city-sized bunker before being bombed during the Dark Days. Beetee and Finnick are also rescued. Peeta, Johanna, and Enobaria are captured and held by the Capitol. In an attempt to end the rebellion, the Capitol destroyed District 12, echoing the faked destruction of District 13 during the first rebellion.
Led by President Alma Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee, the resistance overthrew the Capitol. As requested, Katniss Everdeen was to kill President Snow. However, in the heat of the moment, Katniss killed Coin and Snow died from what is rumored to of been from either suffocation or because of choking on his own blood. After Coin's death at the hands of Katniss Everdeen, Commander Paylor of District 8 was elected President of Panem and the Hunger Games were ended.
The nation of Panem was separated into a total of thirteen nation-states known as districts, twelve of which are recognized as operational by the Capitol, and each being responsible for producing, procuring, or refining goods in a particular industry as dictated by the Capitol. All of the districts are subject to the unrelenting will of the authoritarian Capitol, and have no known influence concerning the national politics of Panem beyond their own individual territories.
The districts barely interact with each other since it was illegal, so each district generally has a unique culture unaffected by the other districts. Welfare levels vary significantly, and are often dependent on the goods it produces; some districts, such as 10, 11 and 12, are far more impoverished than wealthier districts like 1, 2, and 4, though no district is nearly as wealthy as the Capitol itself.
Originally, there were thirteen districts in Panem. During the Dark Days, District 13 was obliterated by the Capitol and is no longer recognized as operational. Each district provides something different to the Capitol; for example, District 12 provides coal and District 4 provides fish.
- Main article: The Capitol
The Capitol, hence its name, is the capital of Panem and serves as the nation's central seat of government. It is located in the western part of the country, in an area formerly known as the Rocky Mountains, and is surrounded by the thirteen outlying districts (while it is a prominent territory, it is not considered a district in-and-of-itself).
The residents of the Capitol are generally the wealthiest and most decadent in of all Panem; living lives of conspicuous consumption, the people are most known for their lavish and "eccentric" sense of fashion, to the extent of dying their skin different colors and even having whiskers and talons implanted, a thought that disgusts Katniss Everdeen. The city's prosperity is fueled by the industries and forced labor of the districts, and Capitol citizens are rarely, if even, seen engaging in manual labor or any other serious work.
- Main article: District 1
District 1's industry is manufacturing luxury items for the Capitol. Due to the nature of its industry, District 1 considered the wealthiest district, the only other wealthier place being the Capitol itself. It is a Career District, where prospective tributes often train for years to compete in the Hunger Games, but little else is known about the district. At the end of Mockingjay, memorials were made for the fallen tributes and victors from District 1, meaning District 1 has 148 of Panem's memorials in their district, notable ones being Cashmere, Gloss, Glimmer and Marvel.
According to the Panem map shown in The Hunger Games Adventures, the district is located north of the Capitol.
- Main article: District 2
District 2's industry is masonry, but also manufactures weaponry, makes trains, and supplies the nation's Peacekeepers. The main military complex in the district is known as the Nut. Citizens of District 2 are sometimes called "the pets" of the Capitol. They are the biggest supporters of the Capitol and therefore are pampered and given many extra conveniences. Some notable tributes are Clove, Cato, Enobaria and Brutus.
According to the Panem map shown in The Hunger Games Adventures and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it is located south/southeast of the Capitol.
- Main article: District 3
District 3's primary industry is general electronics of many types, though it is known for also making various mechanical products such as automobiles and firearms. Their tributes are skilled with electronics. Some notable tributes are Wiress and Beetee.
According to the Panem map shown in The Hunger Games Adventures, District 3 is located northwest of District 12, which explains the fact that District 3 is not a Career District.
- Main article: District 4
District 4's industry is fishing, thus most residents have experience using nets and tridents, making fishhooks from scratch, swimming, and identifying edible sea life. It is considered a Career district, and notable victors from this district are Finnick Odair, Mags, and Annie Cresta. Finnick was an important ally of Katniss Everdeen in the Quarter Quell. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 4 had 6 victors.
According to the Panem map shown in The Hunger Games Adventures and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it is located on the west coast of North America around California and Oregon.
- Main article: District 5
District 5's industry is power. Foxface, a clever tribute nicknamed by Katniss in the 74th Hunger Games, was from District 5. In the 75th Hunger Games the man from District 5 was the first person to die, while he attacked Katniss.
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located fairly close to the Capitol, only a little bit southwest of it.
- Main article: District 6
District 6's industry is transportation. In the 75th Hunger Games, two of the past winners ended up becoming morphling addicts. Another known tribute from District 6 was Titus. Little else is known about District 6. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 6 had 4 victors.
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located directly under Lake Michigan.
- Main article: District 7
District 7's industry is lumber and many of its residents have experience with hatchets, axes, saws, and other tree cutting tools. Also, Katniss notes that this district's children begin work at an early age. Katniss and Peeta had to travel through District 7 to get to the Capitol. Johanna Mason and Blight came from this District. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 7 had 7 victors.
According to the Panem map shown in The Hunger Games Adventures and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it is located in the upper north region, near District 4.
- Main article: District 8
District 8's industry is the production of textiles, and they have at least one factory that is primarily used for making Peacekeeper uniforms. It was the first district to rebel after Katniss Everdeen spurred the revolution. The rebellion worsened conditions for residents and some, including Bonnie and Twill, escaped. However, Bonnie and Twill never made it to safety in District 13. Cecelia and Woof were victors from District 8. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 8 had 4 victors.
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located south of Lake Ontario.
- Main article: District 9
District 9's industry is grain. Little is known about this district, just that there are lots of farmland for grain. In the 74th Hunger Games, the boy from District 9 was the first person to be killed in the book. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 9 has 5 victors.
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located northeast of District 10, near the Great Lakes.
- Main article: District 10
District 10's industry is livestock. Not much is known about this district, but some known information is that its marriage rituals are similar to that of District 4's. In the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss names the boy from District 10 "the boy with the bad leg" as he was crippled. Katniss and Peeta had to travel through District 10 also to get to the Capitol.
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located in the southern area of North America.
- Main article: District 11
District 11's industry is agriculture - orchards and fields of grain and cotton surround the district. Almost everything grown is shipped directly to the Capitol. It is one of the poorest districts in Panem, second only to District 12. In addition, it is also one of the districts where the Peacekeepers are the strictest. Ironically, this directly results in its residents generally being malnourished and underfed despite its focus on agriculture. In Catching Fire, Katniss said on her and Peeta's Victory Tour, that District 11 is south of District 12. District 11 is located somewhere near Atlanta and is quite large. Rue and Thresh were notable tributes. Seeder and Chaff were victors from District 11. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 11 has 5 victors.
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located where Florida is currently at today. Although in The Hunger Games Adventures, Florida is submerged, and District 11 is located south of Panem, where Mississippi is today.
- Main article: District 12
District 12's industry is coal and is located somewhere near what was the Appalachian mountains. The district has the distinction of being one of the poorest districts, if not the outright poorest, in all of Panem. Before Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the 74th Hunger Games, the district has not had a winner of the Hunger Games emerge from the ranks of its residents for twenty-four years since Haymitch Abernathy, a raging alcoholic and an embarrassment to the district, won the 50th Hunger Games. Before Haymitch, there was only one other victor from District 12 from an unspecified number of years previous.
District 12 is the laughing stock of Panem. Shortly after the abrupt end of the 75th Hunger Games and during the opening hours of the second rebellion, District 12 was destroyed by the Capitol, using firebombs. Less than 900 people escaped, mostly thanks to the foresight of Gale Hawthorne. At the end of the second rebellion, District 12 starts to rebuild. According to the Mockingjay podiums, District 12 had 3 victors; however in the book it was revealed District 12 had a total of 4.
According to the Panem map shown in The Hunger Games Adventures and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it is located in the Appalachian Mountains in region belonging to North and South Carolina.
- Main article: District 13
District 13 was one of the thirteen districts of Panem. Its main industry was nuclear weaponry. It was supposedly obliterated during the Dark Days as a warning to the other twelve districts of the Capitol's might. The district is now said to be uninhabitable with the ruins supposedly still smoldering from the toxic bombs dropped upon it.
After the Dark Days, the Capitol lead Panem's population to widely believe that the main industry of District 13 was graphite mining. However, this was a cover for the truth: nuclear technology research and development, including weapons.
It is revealed in Mockingjay that the district is in actuality still operational, though it has seceded from the nation of Panem and operates covertly. While the surface of District 13 remains scarred and supposedly uninhabitable, its residents live deep underground, hidden away from the world and the eyes of the Capitol. It is used as a base for the Second Rebellion. The Capitol leaves District 13 alone due to a non-aggression pact, and none of its citizens participate in The Hunger Games due to this.
Many of the wealthier districts such as Districts 1, 2 and 4, known as "Career Districts," have a more positive orientation toward the Hunger Games. As residents do not generally face extreme poverty and malnutrition as is done in more impoverished districts, their tributes are generally healthy and strong. In these districts, it is not uncommon for children to volunteer to be tributes, as winning the Hunger Games is held in highest regard in these districts. Although it is against the rules of the Hunger Games, children in these districts are often specifically raised to participate in the Hunger Games, and thus are trained in the arts of combat and survival. They are typically known as Career Tributes, or "Careers" for short.
Behind the Scenes
Panem and the general setting of The Hunger Games has many references to the Ancient Roman Empire. The Games themselves are reminiscent of the Roman munera, or gladiatorial games. The districts surrounding the Capitol are similar to the Roman provinces that surrounded the city of Rome. Many names, particularly of those from the Capitol are Roman names, such as Cinna, Seneca, Caesar, Coriolanus, Portia etc.
The name "Panem" itself comes from the Latin expression panem et circenses, which means "bread and circuses", a political strategy to keep the people satisfied with the current leaders by distracting them with cheap food ("bread") and entertainment ("circuses"), the two basis of Panem's control over the districts and the people within. The Hunger Games version of panem et circenses is far darker and crueler than the Roman version, as food and entertainment are also used as a means of coercion (through threats of being withheld) as well as for distraction.
Additionally, Panem may also have a secondary derivation as a corrupted form of "Pan-Am" ("Pan-America"), hinted by the fact that the name "Panem" is pronounced in the movies with both syllables stressed.