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[META] Map of Panem and Placement of the Districts

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The world that Suzanne Collins created is deliberately vague about where the districts are actually located.  


There have been a few so-called official maps created in conjunction with Lionsgate including Hunger Games: Panem Rising (App Game put out by Kabam), The Hunger Games Adventures (app game put out by funtacix), and the Hunger Games Exhibit in NYC , but all of them are contradictory and fail to take into consideration some basic geologic and ecological principles including climate change, locations of resources, ability to manufacture products, and where plants can survive.  So because of that, and because FanficAllergy actually has a degree in this subject (Earth Science yo!) we made our own map.


Here are the facts (not opinions) we know from canon:


  • District Twelve is in Appalachia (an area that encompasses more than just West Virginia)

  • District Twelve mines coal

  • District Eleven has orchards

  • District Two is in mountains

  • District Two's industry is mining

  • District Four is warmer than District Twelve

  • District Four's Industry is fishing and shellfish is mentioned specifically (including both shrimp and crab)

  • District Seven has pine forests

  • District Nine's Industry is grain

  • District Thirteen's Industry was graphite

  • The Capitol has mountains to the east and most likely all other directions

  • The Capitol is in the Rocky Mountains


That, my friends, is all we can know as fact from canon that affects location.  


Katniss is an unreliable narrator and at several points it is mentioned that the Capitol keeps the districts in the dark about the locations of the other districts to the point of turning off the sound during the Games when tributes talk about their districts.  People also lie to Katniss repeatedly and she doesn’t catch on until later.  So much of the information we get is suspect. Keep that point in mind.


Now on to our map.


Map of Panem


We raised water levels some, but not insanely.  We used National Geographic’s interactive maps of what would happen if all of the ice caps melted.  And one point that the National Geographic article made was it would take approximately 5000 years for all of the ice to melt.  It is possible, but unlikely, that the world of Panem is set that far in the future.  The reason for this is technology.  They have technology that is easily traceable to our technology today and isn’t too far removed from what we have now.  If you go back 5000 years in our history, the human race was just creating the alphabet and hadn’t figured out the arch yet.  Even taking into consideration the Cataclysm knocking us back to the stone age (and hey we’ve had a few of those, most recently the Black Plague which killed one out three people in the middle ages), we still would have the knowledge (paper) to kickstart society.  So we tend to headcanon that Panem is about 350-500 years in the future using 1985 as the date of the cataclysm.  Why 1985?  That’s another meta, but the short answer is again technology and what Katniss and the others DON’T find.  Specifically cars which switched from being made of metal to being made of plastic and carbon fiber - both of which take a really, really long time to biodegrade.  Just for fun, the National Geographic article takes out of consideration two of the three “official” maps because they raise sea levels too much.


So because we didn’t raise sea levels entirely.  We deliberately cut off North America from South America.  Any islands not in sight of land are now unreachable or at least considered lost.


Because the Cataclysm was likely spurred by both the Cold War and wars over resources, certain areas are uninhabitable.  As the Cracked article 5 Things Every Movie Gets Wrong About the Apocalypse states, the number one thing you have to worry about are what’s going to happen to the nuclear power plants; essentially if you’re on the East Coast, you’re screwed.  Even if all of the nuclear power plants are shut down properly, abandoned cities are going to be turned into ticking time bombs for a number of reasons including natural gas lines, bursting water mains, and flammable buildings.  And all of that’s if major cities aren’t bombed, which, in the Cataclysm, is likely.  Everything between Boston and Norfolk, Virginia, is gone.  So are Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans, and Houston.  Any city located within 50 miles of any sea coast is likely toast, either from rising water levels, bombing, or other weather and climatological issues.  Hi, Hurricane Sandy.


The districts are numbered in the order that they joined the Capitol before the Dark Days.  This is similar to how the Fifty U.S. States are ordered , for example Hawaii is the 50th state and Delaware is 1st while Michigan is 26th.  (As people who collected the state quarters can tell you.)


Now on to the real TL:DR section.  LOL  ^_^  How and Why we placed the districts where we did.  




The Capitol:


The red pentagon labeled "C" is the Capitol.  It is located in and around Dillon, Colorado .  Why?  Several reasons:


  • It is on the west side of the Continental Divide, and as anyone who played Oregon Trail as a kid (or adult) knows, you have to go around the Colorado mountains to reach Oregon & California.  

  • It is completely surrounded by mountains.

  • It is in a large Mountain Valley (other towns in the area include Frisco, Breckenridge, Silverthorne, and Keystone).  

  • On the east side of the location we picked is the Eisenhower Tunnel - which is over a mile long and goes through the Continental Divide.

  • On the west side is the Hanging Lake Tunnel and it is almost a mile long. Those two tunnels make defending Dillon really fucking easy.

  • In the movies we see that the Capitol located by a large lake.  There is a large reservoir (called appropriately the Dillon Reservoir) which fits that quite nicely.  



District One:


We know from canon: they make luxury goods, they have Careers, and they are "close" to the Capitol.  That last one is from Katniss's perspective.  In our headcanon, no one district borders any other or the Capitol.  This is deliberate.  The Capitol doesn't want districts intermingling.  For District One if their main export is luxuries, you have to look at what those luxuries are and what is needed to make them.  In our minds, luxuries include jewelry, gemstones, luxury foods (like coffee and cocoa), art, and things like china, crystal, plastic, and silverware.


On to the placement:


  • While many gemstones can be manufactured, precious metals cannot. Gold, Silver, and Copper are finite quantities and are only found in places where certain geologic processes have occurred.

  • The area is home to several kinds of gems like Jade, Turquoise, Agate, etc.

  • In addition, there are certain plants that can only grow in certain climates and cannot be grown easily or in large enough quantities in greenhouses.  These are Coffee and Cocoa (chocolate), both of which we know they have.  So District One extends down into southern Mexico for this one purpose.

  • Plastic is now a luxury good.  Why?  Because we’re likely to run out of oil within the next century.  In the Hunger Games Universe, with the Cataclysm, oil likely won’t disappear quite as quickly, but it will disappear.  It won’t be as easy to get.  Texas is a major source of oil.  In addition, in canon, Katniss only directly mentions plastic in situations involving the Capitol, the Games (i.e. things made by the Capitol), or District Thirteen.  Ergo, it is a luxury good.




District Two:


We know from canon: they have quarries, they have Careers, and they are "close" to the Capitol. The NUT has to be nearish the Capitol and in a mountain.  The NUT is not NORAD although it is clearly based on NORAD (Cheyenne Mountain).  NORAD likely doesn't exist anymore.


On to the placement:


  • Taking Two was central to winning the war, the ONLY reason Thirteen would have to take such a tough district was if it was a strategic location that essentially blocked the way Thirteen could get to the Capitol.  

  • The area is known for having several kinds of mining including Uranium which after Thirteen’s issues, the Capitol would want to keep that close to home and in a very loyal district.

  • We chose to have it mostly surround, but not touch, the Capitol since it is ostensibly the most loyal district.




District Three:


We know from canon: they make electronics.  That's it.  Seriously.  That's it. So you can pretty much put them anywhere.  Placement is more about where other districts have to be and nearness to important resources that are needed for the electronics industry.  So this district was placed by process of elimination.


On to the placement:


  • Well, hitting up the similar area near Silicon Valley seemed to make sense.

  • We also think that other than Twelve, most districts have more than one industry.  Someplace needs to make wine… hello, Napa Valley.

  • Other than that, we mostly made sure that they didn't hit a location that was needed elsewhere and that they were close to Five for power reasons.  A district that depends on power the way Three has to can’t have Twelve’s intermittent blackouts.




District Four:


We know from canon: they're on the coast, the area is warmer than Twelve, they have shellfish and other kinds of fish, and they train Careers.   In the movies , Katniss (who is sleeveless) and Peeta are shown accepting a bouquet of flowers from a little girl wearing short sleeves.  In the background, you can see ships and the pictures of the District Four tributes.  Considering this is winter in Panem and there was snow on the ground in District Twelve, this has to be a warm location.  Because of the sea level rise and because of the ongoing drought taking place in California, that takes Southern California out of the running, because where are they going to get their water?  Southern California is a desert.  Northern California is too cold for sleeveless in winter.  FanficAllergy can talk about why this is, but it’s really not important.


On to the placement:


  • There's only so many places where you can get both shrimp and crab, which are specifically mentioned in Catching Fire as things that come from District Four.  While crab is also common elsewhere in the US (particularly the Chesapeake Bay area, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest), shrimp is not.  Blue crabs do come from the Gulf of Mexico, and we don’t know what type of crab exactly the Capitol gets.  Per the study linked above regarding shrimp, 85% of the US’s shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico.  Only 10% comes from the entire Pacific coast.  Therefore, the Pacific coast is not a viable option for Four.

  • The Gulf of Mexico is one of the warmest regions of North America and you can wear short sleeves for most or even all of the year.

  • Finnick and Mags were fairly comfortable in a jungle Arena, which is hot and humid.  The Pacific coast is hot and arid or cold and humid, but not hot and humid.  The Gulf of Mexico is both hot and humid.




District Five:


We know from canon: they provide power to the Capitol, from the movies we see that they have a giant dam . Other than that... we don't know much.    


On to the placement:


  • There are a metric butt-ton of dams along the Colorado River the most famous being the Hoover dam. That dam can likely power the Capitol.

  • Also the area is known for Solar and Wind power.  We wanted to limit those power sources that came from fossil fuels since for the most part they won't exist.  We’re using up our natural gas and oil reserves at a huge rate and without access to South America and the Middle East, most of the easy to access to natural gas and oil will be gone (and what oil there is will be used to make plastic, not as energy) and so alternative energy is really what will be powering Panem.

  • The secondary industry is mining of gemstones and precious metals .  They are close enough to Three and One to send those items onto the districts that use them in their industries.  




District Six:


We know from canon: their main industry is transportation and they can somehow get morphling enough that the two Victors are able to be addicts.  In our headcanon, they also have minor industries of mining (specifically Iron , which is important for transportation), farming (for some plants that don't do well in warmer climates like Eleven), and horses (which are transportation).      


On to the placement:


  • Well, the area is known for things like shipping, cars, rail, and steel.  

  • Iron (a very important industry metal) is prevalent in the area, specifically in Michigan and Minnesota.  

  • Nearness to District Twelve (for coking purposes).

  • Farming wise, there are some plants that don’t do well in areas like Eleven.  Things like Sugar Maples, Cherries, Cranberries, Asparagus, Apples, Pumpkins, Plums, and Blueberries.

  • In our headcanon, Six also produces horses, which we know from canon are used to pull the chariots.  The best known horse country is the bluegrass area of Kentucky.

  • They are also the guardians of the border between Panem and Thirteen.




District Seven:


We know from canon: they have pine forests (which are really only prevalent in the north) and their main industry is lumber.   Most of the main states known for lumber historically are northern states. In our headcanon, they have minor fishing fleets mostly to supplement Four.


On to the placement:


  • The Pacific Northwest fits the best (the next best location is too close to Thirteen) .

  • They also pick up some fishing, specifically Snow and King crab.  

  • Johanna also says that the area around Thirteen reminds her of home.  So it needs to be in same climate as Thirteen.  And Thirteen has a VERY specific place where has to be so Seven needs to be on the same latitude and not in the same location as Thirteen.




District Eight:


We know from canon: their industry is textiles and Bonnie and Twill pass by Twelve on their way from Eight to Thirteen in the winter...  That's important.  They cannot have traveled too far in the winter and not died of exposure or starvation.  They are not survivalists and winter survival is not easy.  But they can’t be from too far south otherwise they wouldn’t be able to survive at all.  So we went with the mid-Atlantic states since they’re a little bit north and a little bit south.


On to the placement:


  • We placed it between Eleven and Twelve deliberately. They get cotton from Eleven and coal to power their factories from Twelve.  This also places Eight on the opposite side of Twelve from Thirteen, which is important, as Bonnie and Twill canonically have to pass Twelve to get to Thirteen.

  • The area also can support Silk production, Flax Production (linen), and Indigo production.

  • Their secondary industry is whaling... why whaling?  Lamp oil, and the Mills of New England were lit by whale oil until oil refineries were a thing.  With the loss of petroleum, Panem will likely go back to whaling.  




District Nine:


We know from canon: their industry is grain.    


On to the placement:


  • Placement was easy, they have to be on the plains... period.  End of discussion.  Any other map that places them elsewhere, doesn't know jack about farming.  Wheat,Corn, and Rye all grow best on the plains, as do Potatoes.  

  • Their secondary industry is alcohol... because grain is often essential in alcohol production.  Hops also grow well in this area.

  • Nine has to be large to support not only the Capitol but all of the other districts who rely on tesserae.  As well as Ten’s livestock.




District Ten:


We know from canon: their industry is livestock.  Livestock pose an interesting problem... to have meat you must have space.  Specifically, space that is unforested.        


On to the placement:


  • We wanted it near Nine because feeding animals is important, and you don’t want to have to ship all that grain any further than you have to.

  • They got most of Texas and parts of other livestock heavy locations because the geography supports it.  And much of the area we chose is used in livestock production today.

  • The main city is near the Capitol and the leather goes to One and the wool goes to Eight.  




District Eleven:


We know from canon: their industry is farming, they have orchards, Katniss thinks it's the nearest district and it is a shorter train ride than the one to the Capitol.  It is a clear slavery allegory.  So Deep South it is.  


On to the placement:


  • Hi Deep South, how you doin'?  

  • That's pretty much our main reason.

  • Also, that area is known for Peaches, Oranges, Pecans, Peanuts, Cotton, Onions, Tobacco, and Rice.




District Twelve:


We know from canon: their industry is coal and they are in the Appalachian Mountains, which are a huge mountain range that is not just limited to West Virginia.  


On to the placement:


  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail takes between five and seven months... that's a pretty long time and the mountains extend from Maine to Georgia.

  • So really, what you need to look at is where do you find coal... which pretty much takes you to Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

  • We placed it around Cumberland, Maryland.  Which is just north of West Virginia and is in an area that is known for coal mines.




District Thirteen:


We know from canon: their industry is graphite with a hidden industry of weapons/nuclear weaponry, they have pine forests in Thirteen, and Katniss can hunt animals that she is familiar with.      


On to the placement:


  • There is only one place on the entire North American Continent that has graphite deposits.  Period.  End of story.  That place is Ontario on the Laurentian Shield around Toronto/Barrie.  

  • Ontario has several pine forests, enough to remind Johanna of home.

  • It also needs to be difficult to get to, placing it on the other side of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway is a good way to do that.  It also helps to explain why Bonnie and Twill are traveling in winter... crossing will be easier at that time (it’s easier to cross ice than fast moving deep water).  It also helps explain why they'd pass Twelve to get there.  

  • Thirteen must be self sustaining, and that area has access to water, farming, power, and other essentials.




All of the open Space:


So... you might notice that there's a lot of open space.  This was also deliberate.  You need to have places to build Arenas where the districts won't notice them.  You also need to make sure that the districts aren't touching and don't know where they are relative to the others.  These areas are known in our headcanon as The Wilds.  As a note, there are no Arenas north or east of Six and Twelve... they are too close to Thirteen and thus a security risk.  Not to mention a giant mess of destroyed cities and more fallout than you can shake a stick at.


So there you have it... our map of Panem.