By Camden K and Kelsey G, Amateur Panem Cartographers
Let’s get one thing straight: Kelsey and I love the maps of Panem that are out there. We have wasted many, many study hours looking at maps of Panem and thinking about the districts we might be in. For a very long time this map of Panem was our guide for determining our District loyalties. Kelsey, from Kentucky: District 12. Me, from California: ". . .you’re dead." "No, I would move with the coast! I’m the Capitol!"
But then came The Hunger Games movie (omg omg). We rallied our friends -- we’ll dress up as our districts! How fun! So we returned to Google images. . .there are so many maps now. And they are ALL SO DIFFERENT. WHAT DO WE DO. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
WHO ARE WE?!?!?!?!
After much handwringing, we studied the maps carefully. As great as they are, they weren’t totally hip to our jive. The industries of each district did not, to our minds, match up with the areas that people were assigning them. That’s totally fine; The Hunger Games takes places hundreds of years in the future and Queen Of Hearts Suzanne Collins only knows what shape the earth’s taken and where the industries have moved. The problem is, Kelsey and I are huge nerds. And all the cool kids were making maps of Panem – why shouldn’t we? So we set out to make our own map, based on what we know of trade and industry in North America and what we know is produced in each District of Panem. So, armed with our college library and the internet, this is how we spent the greater part of our Friday and (sob) Saturday. This was a collaboration of the highest order: we both did mammoth amounts of research to place the districts, Kelsey did the art, and I (Camden) did the write-up.
Because one of our biggest frustrations with the other maps was our not having access to the information/brains that by which the maps were created, we’ve attempted to cite everything we used. There’s also a bibliography and FAQ at the end. Also, all photos are links to bigger pictures. You guys, seriously, we weren’t joking. We’re nerds.
Disclaimer: We’re from the US. If this map seems a little/a lot American-centric in terms of industry and history, it’s because our knowledge of the continent is centered in the US. We welcome your expertise!
HOW TO BUILD A COUNTRY
North America has been, in some way, geographically altered.
Panem covers the WHOLE of North America.
Panem retains the industrial history of the continent.
One. Define your continent.
Collins said it would take “triple digits” of years of recovery after a catastrophic event to get to present-day Panem (“Author Profile”). Like this fabulous map, we assumed that catastrophic event would be environmental, likely something to do with rising sea levels. It could just as easily be nuclear holocaust, alien colonization, canine insurrection etc., but environmental disaster gave us more research opportunities and less random conjecture. So, what shape is North America?
As far as I could figure, the current estimate of how long it will take for all the ice on the planet to melt and kill us all is A Very Long Time. Bearing in mind that we are humanities majors and can’t read statistics to save our lives, we decided that that is Way Too Long. Furthermore, the articles we found suggested that, for example, the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet’s demise will be much less dramatic and exciting than Al Gore has led us to believe (Bamber et al.). But something horrible had to happen to create a Panem! So we choose to sink parts of the continent following elevation and sea level and see what would happen. According to the most recent publication from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contain enough ice to rain the sea level by about 64 meters (IPCC). 64 meters of sea level rise would be suitably dramatic, but it would have also sunk most of the southern United States. That is problematic for many reasons, so we halved 64 meters and, using the very scientific method of eyeballing an elevation map and coloring in the ocean on a printed, proceeded to sink parts of North America.
. . .and then sunk a bit more. For fun.
(So yeah, for all our research, it basically came down to us squinting at an elevation map. Yes, we’re off in our calculations. Yes, we did not take in account that rivers would get bigger. Again: humanities majors. We did the best we could and had fun with the rest.)
Two. Find District 12
"District 12: Mining. One of the outer districts, this is nonetheless a crucial one. These brace and hardy workers descend one. These brave and hardy works descend deep into the earth each day to mine the coal that keeps our nation running." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
Collins, in the very first book, tells us that District 12 is in what was formerly known as the Appalachians (The Hunger Games 41). Hard to argue with that – the only question was how big to make the district. It is implied that District 12 is one of the smaller districts, so Kelsey picked out a space for District 12. She has family in Appalachia, so I’m sure she situated Katniss and co. in a nice cozy spot.
Three. Find The Capitol
"Both Peeta and I run to the window to see what we’ve only seen on television, The Capitol, the ruling city of Panem. The cameras haven’t lied about its grandeur. If anything they haven’t quite captured the magnificence of the glistening buildings in a rainbow of hues that tower into the air, the shiny cars that roll down the wide paved streets, the oddly dressed people with bizarre hair and painted faces who have never missed a meal." (The Hunger Games, pg 58)
Collins, again in the first book, tells us that The Capitol is in the Rockies (THG 41). Most people assume Colorado, but we were unwilling make that assumption immediately – the Rockies spans two countries! That’s a lot of mountains! However, book canon gives us two major clues: a train from the eastern districts must go through a tunnel to get to The Capitol and the rebels lost the war because The Capitol’s air forces picked them off while they were scaling the mountain (THG 58-9). “Air forces” indicates a ready and heavy military presence. Of all the US states that the Rockies hits, Colorado has the most military bases. Furthermore, five of the six military bases (four air force, one army) are in the Colorado Springs area(ish) (VisitMilitaryBases.com). The Capitol must be Colorado Springs in Colorado, right? Except, the rebels “had to scale the mountains” which suggested to us that The Capitol had to be further back in the mountains. Tracee Orman, creator of this amazing map, put The Capitol in Aspen. Aspen makes a lot of sense as a capital city; it’s got that “celebrity playground” reputation and it is well fortified. It’s even (kinda sorta) on the other side of some mountains from Colorado Springs. Look, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station has a convenient tunnel, okay. (omg hi Sam Carter!)
So, Aspen it is. Big thanks to Tracee Orman for this one. We wish we were in your class!
Four. District 2
"District 2: Masonry. Our nation would be nothing without District 2’s superb stonework. It builds and fortifies our cities, and its citizens are known individually for their strength." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
Given the placement and concentration of Colorado’s military bases, we decided that it made the most sense for District 2 to sit directly to the east of The Capitol. District 2 is known for its “masonry,” munitions, peacekeepers (Mockingjay 73). It is one of the closest and most loyal districts to The Capitol (M 73). Incorporating Colorado’s military bases made sense, especially Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Stations and its similarities to The Nut (check photos of CMAFS against the description of The Nut in M 192). We expanded the district to include Wyoming’s single Air Force base and Kirtland AFB near Albuquerque. We figure that District 2 needs a lot of space to practice. . .peacekeeping.
Five. District 1 and 3
"District 1: Luxury. District 1 makes the luxury goods that decorate and beautify our great Capitol. Its excellent taste and craftsmanship keep Capitol residents bewigged and bedazzled year-round.
"District3: Technology. Panem is one of the most advanced nations in mankind’s history, thanks to the efforts of District 3. Its computers keep us all connected and its electronic gadgets keep us all entertained." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
The placement and size of District 1 was sort of an arbitrary decision. We figured that District 1 needed to be close to the Capitol. Seeing as District 1’s industry is luxury items and those luxury items were generally not going to be very big and were not going very far, we thought that it did not have to be a particularly large district. Collins also writes that District 1 has “some sort of machine. . .that can turn graphite into diamonds” (HG 74), which we took to mean that the materials from which District 1 produces luxury items can be artificially manufactured or brought in from other districts.
District 3, in our minds, HAD to be in California. Is there a place in North America that is as technology-rich as Silicon Valley? Not that we could think of (even without my obvious bias.) Of course, we sank most of California, so we also had to operate on my dim theory that Californians simply move inwards, rather than out of the district completely. Tracee Orman points out on of her map that Arizona is home to several copper mines and since having both resources in the same district is logical, District 3 covers parts of California and most of Nevada and Arizona.
Six. District 4 and The Problem With Numbered Districts
"District 4: Fishing. Do you like seafood? Shrimp and crabmeat? Often overlooked, District 4 plays an essential role, bringing us the bounty of the sea. These citizens are adept with nets and tridents, and can swim like fish themselves." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
District 4 was where we ran into trouble. It makes little sense for the Districts to be numbered at random. We believe that each district has to touch. Otherwise, why number them? Why not just name them?
This made District 4 was a huge pain to place. Placing it on the Gulf of Mexico didn’t appeal to us -- we simply didn’t believe that the ecosystem would have recovered to the point where it would be able to provide the bulk, if not all, of, the seafood for an entire country. Baja and the western coast of Mexico was not ideal, because placing District 5 in Texas-North Mexico area would screw up where we wanted to put District 11 (more on that later.) We tried to put District 4 in Atlantic Canada, but that made placing District 5 all the worse. District 4 then had, based on our map, to be on the Pacific coast of North America. The map below shows all the places we wanted to put District 4.
Seven. District 5
"District 5: Power. Electric, solar, and nuclear---District 5 harnesses the energy of the earth and the sky in order to power our great nation." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
District 5 was something of a victory for us. At this point we had an idea of where we wanted District 8, 6 and 7 to be. District 6 and 8 needed to share a border but, of course, District 5 needed to share a border with District 6 and 4. We figured District 5 would be in the American southwest, but we wanted District 6 in the Great Lakes area. We couldn’t put District 5 in Texas, because if District 4 is in the Pacific Northwest that would make the stupidest, most illogically numbered map ever.
Enter our library’s copy of The National Atlas of Canada! Does Canada have energy sources not in the Northwest/Yukon territories? According to the map in the atlas that we found, there are a number of gas and oil fields in Alberta and Saskatchewan. More importantly, there are areas “of sedimentary rocks in which oil and gas have been found or may be found” (National Atlas 179-80). There are large areas of these sedimentary rocks. The National Atlas draws an area where these sedimentary rocks might be that covers almost all of Alberta, lots of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and goes as far north at the Northwestern territories. It’s not too much of a stretch to say those areas might have become legitimate sources of fossil fuels, we think. So District Five sits right next to 4 and follows the curve of the United States-Canada border to touch District 6.
Eight. District 6
"District 6: Transportation. Our hovercraft, our high-speed trains, and our cargo trains come to us from District 6. Ironically, the citizens here have little love for travel." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
We knew pretty much from start that we wanted District 6 to be in the area around the Great Lakes. Historically, that area has always had a hand, if not many hands, in the construction of transportation equipment and vehicles for/in the United States. There’s no reason (as far as we know from the books) that it wouldn’t still be an epicenter for transportation.
Nine. District 10 and 11
"District 10: Livestock. The gentle lowing of cattle is the first thing a visitor to District 10 hears. This region raises strong, healthy livestock, which becomes the meat that helps us raise strong, healthy children of Panem.
"District 11: Agriculture. Known for its bountiful orchards, District’s 11’s workers spend their days among fruit trees and sizable farms." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
District 11 is huge. Katniss observes the vastness of District 11, noting that, “on and on it goes. I can’t believe the size of District 11” (Catching Fire 55). There is no way a country of Panem’s size could get away with having a small state be responsible for the production of an entire country’s agriculture. We can also infer that District 11 is probably in the American South from a number of indicators that add up to a kind of scary antebellum picture of the American South: Rue and Thresh are both African-American (African-Panemian?), District 11’s borders are heavily guarded (CF 54), there are “communities of shacks” and references to “every hand” needing being needed for the harvest (CF 55), Rue mentions that people in District 11 sing “at work too” (THG 218) which recalls, at least for us, Negro Spirituals, and finally, there are numerous references on the internet to Collins confirming that District 11 is in the Deep South. Unfortunately, we can’t find the source of that quote so we don’t want to rely on it alone. But the rest of the evidence adds up – District 11 is probably in the American South.
Now, District 11 has to share a border with District 12. Easy enough to place, until you consider the fact that when Katniss and Peeta pass through District 10 to get to the center of District 11 on their Victory Tour (CF 54).
Um, Suzanne, what. Why would you do that to us.
District 10 is livestock. This is another one of those districts that we thought had to be pretty big. Katniss describes “huge open fields with herds of dairy cattle grazing in them” (CF 54) and again, to provide the livestock for an entire country on a free-range model, they’re probably going to need a lot of space. It’s not just cattle we’re dealing with; there’s mention of pork, horse and chicken in books (THG 108, 88, 88) and the furs and feathers that The Capitol is so fond of have to come from somewhere, right? So it would make sense also that District 10 covers a lot of ground simply so that they have a lot of space in which breed and raise different kinds of livestock.
This is how we ended up with part of District 10 ends up following the Ohio River between District 6 and 12. (Why the Ohio River? It’s a natural boundary and a border that would be pretty easy to defend.) In this way, it would make some kind of sense to pass through part of District 10 on the way down to District 11 on a train from District 12.
(Kelsey arbitrarily picked Memphis as the capital for District 11 because Memphis is pretty and the placement of Memphis is such that going from District 12 through 10 sort of kind of makes sense.)
We wanted District 10 and 11 to go down to Mexico in part because Mexico is totally underutilized and in part because we could cover more climate zones for agriculture, enabling District 11 to produce a greater selection of food products and District 10 to raise animals in the climate that is best suited for them. (Not that The Capitol and District 3 aren’t capable of creating indestructible livestock, but if you’ve got the resources, why not use them?)
Ten. Districts 7 and 8
"District 7: Lumber. This beautiful district is lush with trees from which these citizens supply our lumber and paper. The people of District 7 are hardworking and down-to-earth.
"District 8: Textiles. From the simply, lovely fabrics of the district to the beautiful brocades favored in the Capitol, District 8 makes it all." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
District 7 is probably pretty big, as they have to supply the lumber for the entire country. We wanted to put it in the Pacific Northwest, but that just didn’t fit with District 4 and 5. Good thing there are trees in Canada, right? Right. Not only that, but there is an entire boreal forest that stretches across the entire country; Joanna mentions that the smell of pine trees reminds her of home in (M 255).
What little were told about District 8 in the books is that there are factories (CF 142). This led us to believe that everything that is needed to make textiles – cotton, wool, fur etc – is grown outside the district and shipped in, thus allowing us to put District 8 wherever we needed it to be. We also know that it is possible to walk to District 12 from a train leaving District 8 for District 6 (CF 146), which is how we ended up nestling District 8 between 5, 6, and 7. It’s definitely a district placed by where it was most convenient, but having textile factories in that part of Ontario is not totally unprecedented – there were some textile manufacturers in that area of Canada during the 20th Century (National Atlas 200). Not terribly many, but a few.
Eleven. District 9 and 13
"District 9: Grain. District is Panem’s bread bowl, giving us the fertile harvest we need to keep rising as a nation. Its amber waves of grain are an inspiration to us all." (From the introduction to The Hunger Games Tribute Guide)
District 13: ”’Thirteen?’ I say. ‘There’s no thirteen. It got blown off the map.’” (Catching Fire, pg 141)
District 9 was another one of those super-obnoxious districts to place. Part of its placement is based on what space we had left on the continent and part of its placement was where wheat could be grown. It was a beautiful moment for us when we realized that District 9 covers parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Idaho, all of South Dakota and Montana, most of North Dakota, almost all of Wyoming, part of Idaho and a little bit of Saskatchewan and Alberta – all areas in which wheat is grown or able to grow. The district also is big enough to cover areas in which different kinds of wheat can be grown.
District 13 was the last district to be placed. We wanted so badly to put it in D.C., but D.C. was mostly underwater. It had to be kind of close to District 12 but beyond what the citizens of The Seam know of District 12 and the Wilderness. We know that there woods around District 13. We also know that District 13 used to mine graphite (HG 74); there were, at one point, a very long time ago, several graphite mines in Pennsylvania (“Report”). District 13 is far enough away from The Capitol that they, like 12, probably had some small degree of independence. Like 12, they’re simply too far away from The Capitol for the Capitol to really care about them beyond what they could produce.
”He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens.” (The Hunger Games, pg 18)
There is unincorporated land in some areas of North America that we assume are Capitol-controlled, but not necessarily used. Baja and the Northeastern Territory in particular were difficult to place and we decided that it was entirely possible for The Capitol to control, but not inhabit parts of North America. We also thought that The Capitol would want some kind of buffer between District 13 and the rest of the country, as general precaution.
The bibliography can be found here. If you have any questions, go read our FAQ and/or drop a comment to us here. Thank you for reading! ♥