District 13 is one of the thirteen districts of Panem, and was widely thought to have been destroyed by the Capitol during the First Rebellion (74 years before the time of the series). The Capitol claimed that the district had been uninhabitable ever since, due to the "chemical" bombs that were dropped on it; during television broadcasts, the ruins of the district were shown to still be smoldering. It is later revealed, however, that these broadcasts were faked; by simply editing a television reporter into an old image. In the image, a mockingjay is seen in the top left corner of the screen. 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 are were also trained and equipped there. District 13 is located in the northeast of Panem, north of District 12.
District 13 is mentioned a few times, but plays no significant role, as the story of its destruction decades earlier is still widely believed.
Bonnie and Twill, two refugees from District 8, explain to Katniss Everdeen why they believe the destruction story might not be completely true; whenever the Capitol shows television footage of District 13, the ruins are always smoldering. While this does tie in with the Capitol's official position that the district 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 instead simply replays old footage. Bonnie and Twill believed that the district was still inhabited, with the people living underground. Although Katniss is slow to accept this theory, she begins to review footage of the old broadcasts, and realizes that Bonnie and Twill were right about the mockingjay. At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss is rescued from the Hunger Games Arena and 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 another war. The Capitol was willing to accept this arrangement because District 13's specialization is nuclear weaponry, and they had trained their nuclear missiles on the Capitol, threatening to destroy the city. 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. As part of its propaganda regime, the Capitol also stated that 13's primary industry had been graphite mining, with no mention of its nuclear weapons. 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 gained a valuable arsenal of nuclear weaponry, and the non-aggression pact with the Capitol ensured its safety. When the people relocated underground, they began developing and manufacturing new types of weaponry, and continued to so later for the rebel armed forces during the Second Rebellion.
After the third Quarter Quell, Katniss, 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 were cared for and trained for the Second Rebellion: Beetee from District 3 built specialized weaponry, Katniss became the Mockingjay symbol, Finnick Odair narrated propo, and so on.
Every morning, District 13 citizens get a temporary tattoo on the underside of their arm that shows their daily schedule. It displays, in 24-hour time, where to be and what activities are to be performed at specific times. Certain activities- such as meals - are scheduled regularly every day, while others may vary significantly. After a certain time, the ink breaks down and can be washed off in preparation for the following day.
Aside from meals, which are normally taken communally, the activities on your schedule depend on several factors. If you are under the age of 14, you go to school, where you take classes on history and other subjects. Depending on your background, you 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 may receive military training in addition to some education sessions. At some point during the day, you were given 30 minutes of down time 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. Buttercup is let outside to find food, but his comings and goings were strictly controlled, and if he had caused any problems, he would have been shot on sight.
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).
- 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 on a nuclear reactor.
- 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 had occured.