The Capitol of Panem is a technologically advanced, utopian city where the nation's most wealthy and powerful citizens live. The Capitol is also the colloquial name for the ruling government of Panem. As the seat of power in Panem, the nation's thirteen districts (twelve after The Dark Days) are ruled from this city, and the Hunger Games are organized and celebrated inside its city limits (protected by anti-aircraft guns and multiple launch rocket systems, or MLRS's).
Prior to the Second Rebellion, The Capitol was a tyrannical dictatorship, led by President Snow (before his death) and previously President Ravinstill, and held total political and economic dominance over Panem, enforcing its rule through an army of Peacekeepers, capital punishment, propaganda, the fear of nuclear devastation (like District 13), and the Hunger Games. It is also the only major city mentioned in the trilogy. The Capitol is known for its fashion and food. Following the events of Mockingjay, Paylor becomes the new president, and Panem is transformed into a constitutional republic.
It is located in the western, mountainous section of former North America. Proximity to both the mountains to the east and the large body of water to the west suggests it could somewhere near the location of present-day Salt Lake City. The Rockies also act as a natural barrier and have served the Capitol well, allowing their air force to bomb the rebels who attempted to invade the city during the Dark Days.
History and Founding
Much is unknown about when the Capitol was first built and developed, but it was noted that a group of some of the most wealthy, powerful and elite Panem citizens and families came together, one such family included the Phipps family in which was mentioned as a one of the founding members of the Capitol. Eventually over time, more wealthy families and citizens came together, as the Snow and Crane family were both noted to be apart of an elite circle of an old guard of the wealthy from the Capitol.
It's presumed that many Capitol residents have made a life into the Capitol due to their immense wealth, privilege and power from the districts. Capitol residents are the most elite citizens of Panem, and have been mentioned to have the most vital and important occupations throughout the nation. The Moss family works in the agriculture department, the Creed family works with timber in District 7, the Crane family on transportation and travel, owning assets of hotels within District 10 and the Snow family owning laboratories within District 13. Thus many Capitol residents are descendants of the most wealthy citizens within the outer districts. Citizens from the districts were still eligible for citizenship within the advanced city well up to right after the first rebellion, as the Plinth family had earned a life in total wealth and power by deciding to side with the Capitol during the war within District 2.
It is unknown what had been the catalyst for the first rebellion, and unclear on what had motivated the districts enough to take up arms against the Capitol, however around 74 years before the original trilogy a civil war had begun between the districts and the Capitol from mass dissent and anger. As Snow was 5 years of age by the first year of the rebellion and 8 years of age when the first Hunger games commenced, it can be deduced that the first rebellion lasted for 3 years.
Although much is unknown as to what notable events had transpired during the majority of the rebellion, it’s mentioned by Snow that during the first year, Snow's grandmother sang the national anthem of Panem whilst bombs were shooting down on the city. During the last two years of the war, the rebels had successfully managed to cut off vital food supplies of the Capitol. As such, this led to starvation and poverty of the Capitol citizens, as many families had to sell their goods including furniture and clothing to the black market to scrape by. In rare instances even, had led some citizens including Nero Price, a wealthy man who was widely considered a titan of the railroad industry to resort to cannibalism. At some point, District 5 managed to overtake the bomb warning alarm system of the Capitol, and managed to give out fake threats, effectively dealing more damage when actual attacks were lead into the city.
At some unknown point in the midst of the rebellion, rabies had managed to spread into the Capitol. With doctors, facilities and supply lines badly affected by bombing prior, the likelihood of citizens getting treatment overall for any illnesses was rather low. Snow theorised that the virus strain most likely came from a coyote from the mountains, starved dogs or bats. Due to the poor level of healthcare, the virus strain developed at an unprecedented speed, killing over a dozen capitol citizens before being brought under control by a vaccine.
By the end of the rebellion, the Capitol had managed a victory against the rebels when they attempted to scale the mountains that serve as natural protection for the city. Effectively, due to their superior air force, the Capitol forces have managed to deal great damage to rebel forces, giving them an upper hand in the rebellion.
However, at some point about 3 years into the rebellion, with both District 13 and the Capitol having both their nuclear arsenals pointed at one another had diplomatically agreed to sign a peace treaty, allowing the Capitol to gain full control of the 12 other districts once more, and allowing District 13 to function independently from the rest of Panem. Although was this unbeknownst to the rest of nation, as it was portrayed by the Capitol that District 13 was defeated by Capitol forces themselves, with the district destroyed and left radioactive.
After the rebellion, under President Ravinstill, the Hunger Games was announced by Volumnia Gaul, credited to Casca Highbottom, serving as an annual event to remind the Districts of the cost of their rebellion. Even 10 years after the rebellion, the effects were still felt within the Capitol, as some streets Snow walked across still had rubble.
Society and Culture
Many Capitol residents are extremely shallow, always looking for ways to be noticed. An outrageous sense of style and fashion are very important to the citizens of the Capitol. It is common for them to tattoo and dye their bodies in extravagant bright colors, as well as undergo plastic surgery to alter their appearances. Known results of the surgeries are whiskers, dyed skin, talons, decorative patterns cut into their skin, and more outrageous fashions alluded to but not mentioned. These alterations are done so heavily that Katniss describes them as disfiguring, wondering if the people of the Capitol realize how horrifying they look to the rest of Panem. Some people of the Capitol also have gems implanted in their skin. Capitol residents frequently wear wigs in a multitude of colors. In The Hunger Games, when Katniss and Peeta are talking on the roof the night before their enter to the arena, Peeta admits that it would be hard to tell if they were wearing any fancy costumes, because you might as well mistake their ordinary clothing for a costume.
In order to have a good time at a party and eat as much as they want, Capitol residents drink a liquid (similar to ipecac) that causes them to vomit, thus providing enough room in their stomachs for more food. The residents seem oblivious to the fact that, although they go through lots of food and still have plenty left over, many of the districts' residents are starving. The food Capitol residents eat is extremely rich and appears in exotic and beautiful patterns, such as bread rolls shaped like flowers and oranges served with a sauce. Everything is luxurious and overwhelming for the tributes that arrive from the poor districts (for example, food dispensers and showers with over a hundred buttons).
The people who live in the Capitol are culturally distinct from the rest of Panem, speaking with strange accents; their voices are high pitched, their jaws barely open when talking, and their tone at the ends of their sentences going up as if they're asking a question (this particular trait is present in real life Californian English). They have odd vowels, clipped words, and tend to hiss the letter "s." The only noted exceptions to this are Cinna and Plutarch Heavensbee.
People living in the Capitol are very easy to win over because, despite the fact that they enjoy theatric bloodshed, they love sentimentality and melodrama. Both Katniss and other former victors have exploited this fact to further their own agenda. Haymitch also states that it's possible to gain support in the arena simply by gushing.
Capitol residents have often been said to treat the Hunger Games like a celebrated sporting event and a highly anticipated source of entertainment and past time. They take pride in betting on the tributes simply for bragging rights, not understanding or showing any regard for the horror their government is committing by forcing the games upon the districts. Some citizens are sponsors to the tributes, paying money for packages of supplies that are then delivered to them in the arena. Also, the more blood and fighting there is in the arena, the greater the entertainment for the Capitol. Unlike the twelve districts of Panem, the Capitol does not have to offer children for the Hunger Games, although the idea was discussed in Mockingjay.
It is also observed that they are unhappy about the previous victors being thrown into the arena once more for the 3rd Quarter Quell, because they have grown attached to the victors. Many Capitol citizens wanted to stop that Hunger Games from happening.
Capitol citizens are extremely wealthy and life moves very slowly until the Games, which make them all the more anticipated. Despite being at the top of both the economic and social chain, there is very little in the way of celebration or festivity until the Games and Victory Tour.
Capitol citizens are noted to have quite high ranking and integral roles and occupations for Panem as a whole, as an example, Iphigenia Moss’ father worked in the agriculture department and as such, determines and regulates the flow of food within Panem. It’s also noted that the Crane family worked in the travel industry and the Creed family oversaw the production of timbre within District 7. Pliny Harrington’s father was also a naval commander within District 4 and former President Coriolanus Snow’s family had assets for laboratories within District 13. Many Capitol citizens have high ranking occupations within the districts themselves despite sour and unfavourable relationships, and as such could presumably be a reason as to why the Capitol had exploited the districts to such an extent.
There is also an academy and university for the brightest and most well-connected students. Additionally, even the Capitol had a black market, which Coriolanus Snow once purchased a pair of dark pants from.
Government and Military
The Capitol has no localized city government as the central government of Panem is housed at the Capitol. Capitol citizens control the government as all members of President Snow's cabinet are Capitol citizens. Prior to the establishment of the Constitutional Republic in the wake of the Second Rebellion, no elections were held in Panem or in the Capitol so it is unknown how President Snow came to his position. The Capitol exerts all political and economic control over all of Panem, and Snow's regime is known to be exceptionally harsh in keeping law and order in the districts.
Headed by the president who is the ultimate authority in the nation, the Capitol imposes a centrally planned economy on the districts, with all major industries under its control. The economic development of the districts is thus extremely limited, and nearly all citizens live in abject poverty.
The President of Panem heads a cabinet whose members are chosen by the president himself. The individual members of the cabinet are charged with various duties and portfolios.
After the Battle of the Capitol, the Central Government is dissolved, and its members were arrested, including President Snow himself.
The Capitol employs a large military force known as Peacekeepers to enforce its laws and police the districts. The majority of the military's manpower comes from District 2, as Capitol citizens are not known for physically fighting. With few exceptions, the only members of the military who reside in the Capitol are the military commanders. The Peacekeepers are armed with advanced, cutting edge equipment and technology, including nuclear arms. Following the overthrow of the Capitol, the armed forces are disbanded as well, with large numbers of peacekeepers arrested, tried, and executed.
Relationship with the districts
After the collapse of modern civilization, the thirteen districts were brought together under the Capitol's rule, thus forming the nation of Panem. Originally, there were thirteen districts, until the outbreak of the First Rebellion, which was a failed attempt to topple the dictatorship.
District 13, unbeknownst to the other districts, was the Capitol's primary weapons supplier as its industry was in military arms production and nuclear weapons development and research, which had been instrumental to supporting the First and Second Rebellions. As the First Rebellion was failing, 13 managed to get the Capitol to capitulate to a degree through a threat of mutually assured destruction with their nuclear arsenal. 13 was allowed to secede from Panem and would prepare for another rebellion in the following decades, and the Capitol created fear-mongering propaganda of District 13's "annihilation" in the war, whilst hoping that the rogue district would eventually die out.
Though the districts harvest all of the country's resources, such as fish, coal, lumber, textiles, technology, electricity, transportation, grain, livestock, crops, and gems, they must export almost all of their resources to serve the Capitol's citizens and their overwhelming greed. As a result, many districts, such 12 and 11, don't have enough coal to power their own district or enough food to feed their citizens (respectively). Districts 1, 2, and 4 typically have a better relationship with the Capitol and therefore receive more, have better food, and are graced with other various goods.
It is said that the Capitol favors District 2 as a lapdog, although District 2 is still not excused from the Hunger Games. Out of all the districts, District 2 is the most loyal to the Capitol. Following the end of the First Rebellion and the destruction (in reality, secession) of District 13, the Capitol looked to District 2 as the new center of its military-industrial complex. The Capitol's military operations were thus based in District 2's mountains.
With the establishment of the base in District 2, military careers were offered to District 2 citizens. Because of this, many District 2 citizens began to look favorably upon the Capitol. Nevertheless, citizens in the mountainous regions who remained loyal to the district trade of masonry, maintained a negative view of the Capitol, and rebelled during the Second Rebellion.
The districts have no political representation since all power is invested in the central government in the Capitol, with a President acting as the supreme leader of the nation. The districts' mayors serve as governors, ensuring the districts fulfill their quotas of production. They serve no electoral representative role as parliamentarians, senators, or congressional representatives.
As a result, the citizens of the districts live in abject poverty and under brutal oppression. The Capitol takes advantage of the suffering, using it as a tool of control, to keep the districts in line and in servitude.
Following the victory of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in the 74th Hunger Games, unrest began growing in the districts once more, particularly the outlying and most impoverished districts, such as 11 and 8. After Katniss and Peeta's failure to distinguish the dissent within the districts during their Victory tour, President Snow announced the third quarter quell, in which victors were forced back into the arena as tributes. After the 75th Hunger games ended with Katniss blowing up the arena, many districts turned to full-scale rebellion against the Capitol, with Districts 1, 3, 8 and 11 being the first the seperate from Capitol control. The full-scale uprising, which after several months, ultimately led to the takeover of all 12 districts by the rebel forces, led and supported by District 13 and its military arsenal.
Rebel forces then managed to set up military bases around the outer areas of the Capitol and effectively managed to make safe pathways leading further into the Capitol despite the pods activated by gamemakers. By the end of the rebellion, as the Capitol evacuates citizens affected from the war residing in the outer blocks of the city, the rebel forces uses the opportunity to further their assault within the Capitol. The invasion of the Capitol is ultimately successful, leading to the overthrow of the Snow regime and the arrests of large numbers of Capitol officials, including the prsident himself.
Interim President Alma Coin called for the remaining seven Hunger Games Victors to vote on a 76th Hunger Games, using Capitol children. The victors approved by a narrow 4-3 decision. However, during the execution of deposed president Coriolanus Snow, Katniss Everdeen made the last-minute decision to assassinate Coin. In the chaos that followed, a free election was held, resulting in the victory of Commander Paylor, a rebel military commander from District 8. The 76th Hunger Games were never held, and the event was entirely abolished afterwards. Under the leadership of the new administration, Panem was transformed into a constitutional republic. Massive economic and political liberalization took place afterwards, and the districts are implied to have prospered.