Besides being a great story, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a great way to get acquainted with geography. The trilogy is set in the country of Panem, a post-Apocalyptic land subtly (or not so subtly) revealed to be America (somewhere Charlton Heston is collapsing on a beach). Panem is divided into 13 Districts and while the relationships between these districts are important, their relative locations are never clearly specified. The following is my attempt to map out the districts in the Hunger Games. Click on the image below for a full map of Panem:
District 12 is explicitly in Appalachia, they mine coal, and are (incorrectly) considered hicks. It has to be West Virginia.
The citizens of District 11 work on farms, it’s warm year-round, and they’re a one-day train ride from District 12. They’re in Georgia; because of course a majority of the black characters in The Hunger Games are from a Georgia cotton plantation, and that’s not weird at ALL.
District 13 got obliterated so it has to be New York City (it always is).
The Capitol is Las Vegas. Now, at one point the book says the Capitol was built “in” the Rocky Mountains but later our hero, Katniss Everdeen, takes a train “through” the mountains so The Capitol isn’t necessarily nestled within the peaks. Look at the facts: the citizens wear gaudy outfits and are addicted to spectacle, they have no natural resources, and need lots of space to build huge death-trap arenas every year.
It’s Vegas. Besides, how did they manage to televise everything that happens throughout acres of forest without learning a thing or two from the hidden cameras in casinos?
District 2, however, has to be in the mountains, with their army base The Nut encased in a mountain. Since they’re closely allied with The Capitol let’s say they are actually in the Rockies. It must be Denver and The Nut is Mile High Stadium.
Those are the only Districts with actual geographic hints. But we can guess based on the resident’s occupations or names:
District 4 is known for fishing… so it has to be Kansas right?
Just kidding. But they still could be located anywhere on any coast? Yes, except that names are important in this series. The Capitol citizens all have Roman names (Cinna, Caesar, Claudius). The people from District 12 have names that come from nature (Katniss, Primrose, Gale). The two District 4 names we know are Finnick Odair and Annie, very celtic names. Irish fishermen? Get your lobstah in Boston.
District 3 produces electronics… so with nothing more to go on than that, I deem it to be in Silicon Valley, California, home to Apple and a million tech startups. Using a similar lack of evidence, District 6 has to center around Detroit, Michigan since it’s the Hunger Games district known for transportation (and junkies).
That’s it for hints within the book. Districts 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 all produce items that are not region specific (luxury items, power, lumber, textiles, grain, and livestock, respectively). If “power” means oil then District 5 is probably Texas and the Gulf Coast but electric power can come from anywhere. The largest cattle ranch in the country is in Florida but there are smaller farms all across the country so District 9 could be anywhere.
What do you think, reader? Any guesses?