Panem is a nation that was established during an unknown time period in a post-apocalyptic world. It is situated primarily in North America, and the Capitol is located in an area formerly known as the Rocky Mountains, as it states in the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy.
Panem was run by an authoritarian-totalitarian dictatorship that was led by President Snow before the second rebellion. 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. Panem was later led by Commander Paylor after the war.
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 in the remains of North America. Not much is known about the exact locations of the districts, other than the fact that District 12 is located in the Appalachia.
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.
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 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 apparently 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 the name, is the capital and largest city in Panem and serves as the nation's central seat of government. It is located in an area formerly known as the Rocky Mountains and is surrounded by the thirteen outlying districts.
The free residents of the Capitol are generally considered the wealthiest (and most decadent) of all Panem, and the city's prosperity is fueled by the industries and forced labor of the districts beyond. While it is a major territory, it is not considered one of the thirteen districts. The people are most known for their "creative" outfits, and crazy sense of fashion, even to the extent of dying the color of their own skin, or even having whiskers and talons implanted, a thought that disgusts Katniss Everdeen. President Snow leads Panem, until there is rebellion and eventually, war.
- Main article: District 1
District 1's industry is making luxury items for the Capitol. Due to the nature of its industry, it's considered to be the wealthiest district, the only other wealthier area being the Capitol itself. It is a Career District. Little else is known about this 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, it is located north of the Capitol.
- Main article: District 2
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
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
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
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
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located directly under Lake Michigan.
- Main article: District 7
- Main article: District 8
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located south of Lake Ontario.
- Main article: District 9
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located northeast of District 10, near the Great Lakes.
- Main article: District 10
According to the Panem map shown in Catching Fire, it is located in the southern area of North America.
- Main article: District 11
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 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 has 3 victors; however in the book it was revealed District 12 has 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
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.