Panem is the home nation of the Hunger Games, established during an unknown, but future, time period on a post-apocalyptic Earth. It is situated on present North America, and the Capitol is located in the area currently known as the Rocky Mountains.
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.
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 willingly through propaganda dismiss their political rights.
Some time after the end of the world as we know 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 ninety 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.
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, Claudius, Coriolanus etcetera.
(adapted from The Hunger Games Wiki)
Panem is at least 90 years old, though the time it would have taken for a new civilisation to rise from the ashes and dust of the present world is unknown. Refugees, however, must have been living in this no-man’s land for the intermittent period, and then given the future generations knowledge of how life was (is today and during the apocalypse). An underlying theme of the books is how careless and thoughtless the present population are to be leaving a world like that, with a disguised warning that if we do not improve our lifestyles, the future may play out as Collins’ fictional trilogy describes – her tales are purely fun and a distraction for us, so why do we criticise the Capitol on their choice of entertainment?
So, what does it look like?
Unlike many novelists whose work is based in foreign lands, Collins does not include an image of her world. This leaves, with many geographical clues, the reader to wonder what Panem does look like – perhaps adding to the mystery and further alienating that world from our own.
Simply typing ‘map of panem’ into any reliable search engine will produce countless versions of this. Many are very similar and all follow at least one of only a few differences (as Collins describes the land in detail) found in these maps:
1) District 4 is in the South/ District 4 is in the North/ District 4 is in the West
2) Districts are numbered outwards from the Capitol/ Districts are numbered logically/ Districts are numbered randomly
3) Districts are on sites of their industry as is today/ Districts needn’t be on any site which we would recognise as a location for their industry in the present day
4) Forget about mountains, they’ll all have gone/ Mountains will still exist
5) Only use U.S.A./ Use all of N. America (inc. Canada and parts of Mexico)
latest best interpretation:
Though I do believe that Alaska will not be flooded, and that other people will be there (not under Capitol rule), I don’t think that it’d be on a Panem map – as either they don’t know, or don’t want anyone to know.
Though, after I created this image, I thought that maybe they (the Capitol) would have cleverly crafted a way so that only a single rail line took you to the head of each district, also with the districts being numbered outwards, as the construction workers built. So, I quickly made this a bit ago:
Of course, in districts where goods from all over the area need to be transported to the Capitol (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) there will be mini-lines running all over – though probably with the exception of 12 as the main line already runs straight through it and it’s tiny.
The train line being like this would make transportation for the Hunger Games and Victory Tour very simple.
Also, after the First Revolution, the part of the line going into District 13 would have been removed and, during the Second Revolution, when District 12 was destroyed it would have been completely cut off (more than it was already, and even though they had no plans to use a train.)
Here’s some other maps that are pretty good, too:
While this a) good and b) a gif, what’s up with District 4? Behind District 13? No, thanks, whatever your logic.
So, here the ‘6’ next to District 12 is really District 5. It’s all in German, so I’ll use my however-many-years of studying it to translate: Ozean is obviously Sea, See is lake (yes, really), Rathous is Town Hall (so, Justice Building), ebene rougly translates to something like a moor (literal is ‘level’), feld (same thing here) means field, Berg is one word for mountain (Bergen being plural), Zaun is fence, Wald is forest and by Schiehen I hope they mean Zug bahn, which means train track (obviously what it is, whereas Schiehen means almost ‘ski lift’). This map is purely for the fact it was drawn in ink with a calligrapher’s pen #2. Well done.
Is there a flag?
Yes, there must be.
This is a vector of the one used in the film:
And, I don’t know where this came from but it was used before the film came out and so I feel obliged to include it.