We know that Panem exists in a post-apocalyptic North America but are there other established governments on other continents that we know of?

  • I think i remember learning that if Yellowstone erupted than it would cause a chain of volcano eruptions around the world which would cause ash to block out the sun, which in turn would eventually kill us all. Also i wonder if the characters in the hunger games ever saw any old falling apart landmarks/relics/ruins of the old America.
    – user42429
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 3:40
  • My headcanon: The rest of the world is largely fine -- they cooperated and helped each other out of the quagmire they'd all found themselves in, but the Capitol refuses any and all international contact because they've painted themselves as the singular and sole hope for continued civilization and if the Districts ever decide they don't need them anymore they're screwed. Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 7:21

6 Answers 6


None that we know of. Panem is, as far as anyone else in the story knows, the last human civilization on Earth. The events preceding the creation of Panem (a combination of natural disasters and man-made war and disease), some 200 years ago, have rendered most of the rest of the world, including most of North America itself, uninhabitable, and dangerously depleted the world's population.

Now, from a purely realistic perspective, it seems unlikely that Panem's people are the only humans left on Earth. There are plenty of people living in plenty of places that would neither be very susceptible to a major natural disaster, nor worth the effort of deploying a WMD. So, there is every chance of the other major landmasses (Africa, Eurasia, South America and Australia) harbouring some remaining human populations, probably mainly nomads moving from place to place hunting what animals are left.

However, those countries and their people are few and far between. Mongolia, for instance, is not real high on anyone's target list, but it has the bad fortune of being landlocked in between two of the world's foremost military and nuclear powers. Similarly, the Himalayan nations are no real threat to anyone, but lie in the middle of a trifecta of conflict (China, India, Pakistan). Pretty much every nation in Europe, South and Central America, the Middle East, and Africa are on SOMEONE's hit list. Australia is too close to Western power factions to escape unscathed, and the most habitable areas are the ones with the major cities (and close to the ocean, meaning a rise in sea levels would submerge a large part of the habitable land).

North America is of course on many hit lists; the primary reason any of it would survive is probably due to the United States having invested relatively early in a missile defence system. That at least prevents or reduces the nuclear attacks from sovereign nations. We'd still be subject to global warming, epidemic, and terrorist attack rendering large swaths of the most densely-populated areas inhospitable. What's left are small tracts of land in between what used to be dense population centres, that have some remaining economic value: farming (11), ranching (10), fishing (4), mining (12 & 2), textiles (8), lumber (7), and what's left of the tech and consumer goods industries (1,3,9).

But, the basic idea is that while the Capitol has advanced technology significantly in many areas, in others they are woefully limited compared to today. For instance, they have "hovercraft", the exact nature of which is not detailed in the books but is probably based on ducted-fan propulsion much like the craft in Avatar. These craft are short-to-medium range, probably using a battery charged at the home base. Fossil fuels of many kinds are in such short supply that air planes as we know them today are infeasible (though not unknown to the more educated people of Panem). So too are large ocean ships. So, trans-oceanic travel is generally considered impossible by Panem's residents (none of which would have any knowledge of sailing ships), and thus even if people were still scraping out a living elsewhere on the planet, Panem has neither the will nor the resources to go find out.

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    People made trans-Atlantic voyages without fossil fuels for four centuries. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 23:01
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    And how many of those barques and frigates are at the bottom of the Atlantic? It may well be possible, but sea levels are higher, so all the proper ports for large ships are gone, and Panem, despite the Capitol's opulence, is really just barely hanging on economy-wise; the first real trans-Atlantic exploration between southern Europe and the "East Indies" were financed by nations like Portugal, Spain and Italy, with an established fleet, crews and captains who knew what they were doing, and a few ships to spare.
    – KeithS
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 0:12
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    I did edit to clarify that it was Panem's residents that considered such travel impossible. It remains that regardless of the actual possibility of such a journey, Panem has neither the will nor the resources to find out.
    – KeithS
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 0:15
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    @MartinSchröder - Submarines, my friend. A submarine can park a few miles off the coast of any continent and dispense WWIII in a can. That's not to mention the nuclear arsenal stored on every supercarrier and every guided missile cruiser. If the U.S. or Russia ever thought that South Africa was a credible threat worthy of a final solution, there is probably an Ohio or Typhoon that could get in range in a couple of days. If we needed something more tactical, an FA-18 with a nuclear-variant SLAM cruise missile is an option as well.
    – KeithS
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 5:23
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    Also worth noting that not all civilizations see naval exploration/conquest as worthwhile. IIRC the Chinese destroyed their ships and disbanded their navy at some point in history, part of why they didn't conquer the Americas, Africa and Australia instead of Europeans, despite being far ahead of Europe on many other fronts during the middle ages.
    – zipquincy
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:21

We must consider, that the novels were consequently written from Katniss' point of view. The form reminds of a so-called writing therapy, used by psychologists to help people, who try to overcome mental problems. We do not even learn, how and why she begun to write down her memories. Perhaps she did it as the result of someone's advice - Peeta may have given it to her - or it was her own idea, following Peeta's example, when he tried to get rid of his nightmares by artistic work.

So the books (here I avoid the term "novels") can be seen as some kind of very personal and private memoirs, not as some kind of historical documentary. It is the author's special merit, that she continued this form through the trilogy without following the temptation to add some kind of timeline. So the readers experience Katniss' own horrors as well as her own knowledge about the world, where she must live.

Katniss has attended the school in District 12, but what did she learn in an educational system of a dictatorship? What could she learn? Panem reminds me of modern North Korea: Pyongyang as the Capitol and the rural provinces as the Districts. What are children taught in North Korean schools? The answer: total loyalty to the party and the "beloved leader" as well as those skills, which are necessary to become a productive subject of this state. What do these children know about the rest of the world? Just that the people there are living in total poverty, oppressed by evil capitalists.

What did the children learn in the school of District 12? Surely how to read and to write as well as some other basics, which are necessary in every society with some technology - after all, even in the 18th and early 19th century mining needed a high level of technical sciences. The first steam engines in Europe were built to get water out of the mines. But what else did the children of District 12 learn, especially about history? Can the Capitol risk to allow the schools of the Districts to teach them about the American Revolution of 1776, the life of Abraham Lincoln or the civil rights-movements around 1965? No dictatorship would do that, because these examples show, that a nation can overcome any resistance, when the people want changes and reforms.

So it must be doubted, that Katniss has learned much about the real history of North America as well as the situation outside the borders of Panem. It is also doubtful, that those facts, which she was taught, were correct. After her father's death she lacked the time to study any longer, because she had to take care for her family. In the years after the end of the trilogy Katniss were forced to overcome her own demons, supported the rebuilding of District 12, married Peeta, became a mother and took care for two children -surely she had not much time to improve her education, even with her husband's help.

Even in the free society of a democratic nation the historical knowledge of the people can be incomplete, because the schools concentrate on the national history. An example will show that: in Britain even the youngest school-kid is able to tell the whole biography of the Duke of Wellington, including his campaigns in India and Spain, the Battle of Waterloo as well as his political career as a minister and finally as prime minster of the United Kingdom. But in the history books used in Germany the Iron Duke and the British army suddenly appear at Waterloo, without any explanation, what the British nation did since Trafalgar. Obviously they were just drinking beer peacefully in their home-country's pubs, while the gentlemen played whist in their clubs.

For these reasons we can not be sure, whether Katniss' knowledge about Panem's history are correct. It is perfectly possible, that she just quotes those facts, which were taught to her in school, without any attempt to check them. The wars and disasters may be a nuclear world war and the effects of global warming, but also a series of internal conflicts, that caused the old USA to disintegrate similar to the former Yugoslavia, an eruption of the super volcano under the Yellowstone Park and the feared earthquake, which may one day destroy California. A combination of these possibilities will surely cause even the end of the United States.

So nearly every situation is possible outside of Panem. A world, destroyed by a world war and global disasters with some remaining pockets of the old civilization (or perhaps barbaric fiefdoms), may wait for brave travellers, but also free nations with modern societies and a superior technology, including space travel and colonies on other planets. Something seems to be there, because Katniss mentions, that Gale got a job in the military - and why should the new republic keep armed forces, if they do not expect the necessity to need them?

Of course the question must be asked, why other nations did not intervene, when the Hunger Games begun. First of all, after some global disaster even technologically advanced societies may have been busy to rebuild their countries, and so they had no possibilities to stop the games. Besides Panem can still be considered an independent state - and even if the other nations despise it, an intervention may be complicated as long as it does not threaten its neighbors - like Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean - or the world peace. The world may impose sanctions like a total blockade, but as long as the Capitol can exploit the Districts, this may not harass the rulers.

Furthermore any direct intervention demands a military campaign on a global scale by transporting the armed forces from Europe, Australia or Japan to North America. World War II has shown the logistical troubles of this kind of warfare. Would any nation risk the lives of its soldiers just to rescue some children in a destroyed country, that has no longer any importance? For the governments this will be a really tough choice. Besides the Capitol threatened to use nuclear weapons against the rebelling Districts. We do not learn, whether they really had any capability of mass destruction left - it could have been a bluff. But could the other nations be sure about that?

In the end all these reflections must be speculative, as long as the author has not published some kind of official compendium including a history of Panem. But if we take the trilogy as Katniss' attempt to overcome her personal demons hidden in her mind, then anything is possible, including a return of Panem into a civilized world. Perhaps one day the author will continue the story: let us imagine, how Katniss and Peeta leave Panem to visit Europe, where they are hailed as the heroes of the Mockingjay-revolution ...

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    Speaking as a former British schoolchild, I don't remember being taught any of that stuff about Wellington when I was at school... Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 20:12
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    I am the father of two current British school children and, having done a brief pop quiz before they went to bed, I can assure you they know nothing at all about the Duke of Wellington. I, on the other hand, know all about it - it's a pub on the Balls Pond Road.
    – Cugel
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 20:00
  • 3
    There's a lovely story about an attempt to print a history textbook for all European schools, which broke down over the battle of Waterloo. British historians all wrote about how Wellington won at Waterloo, German historians wrote about how Blucher won at Waterloo, and French historians wrote about how Napoleon came second.
    – Mike Stone
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 8:38

My guess is that after World War 3, the world was divided. Some parts became uninhabited while others became more densely populated. Due to WWIII, the human race was majorly depleted and survivors grouped into places that were safe, creating nations like Panem. However very few nations knew of other nations' existence and Snow created a unbreakable barrier around Panem. Therefore the Hunger Games were unnoticed by any other nations.

  • Possibly, or maybe the other countries didn't have the forces to stand up to the government of Panem
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:51
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    Interesting answer, but it is a guess at best without sources. Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 13:44

In Chapter Two of Mockingjay it is strongly implied that Panem is the last bastion of humanity in the world:

"Oh, I'm not too upset to answer that." Peeta takes a deep breath and then looks straight into the camera. "I want everyone watching--whether you're on the Capitol or the rebel side--to stop for just a moment and think about what this war could mean. For human beings. We almost went extinct fighting one another before. Now our numbers are even fewer. Our conditions more tenuous. Is this really what we want to do? Kill ourselves off completely? In the hopes that--what? Some decent species will inherit the smoking remains of the earth?"

This is reiterated in Chapter Six of Mockingjay:

"It's not that simple," he shoots back. "We were in no position to launch a counterattack until recently. We could barely stay alive. After we'd overthrown and executed the Capitol's people, only a handful of us even knew how to pilot. We could've nuked them with missiles, yes. But there's always the larger question: If we engage in that type of war with the Capitol, would there be any human life left?"

If there are no humans elsewhere then there are presumably no governments either.


Unknown, but Panem is the only 'world' we know of

His whole world

In his youth, Coriolanus had the opportunity to travel Panem (albeit in uncertain circumstances) and during his travels he encounters lost and broken cities:

Every so often the train would stop and vomit out more recruits, either at their designated district or for transfer to transports headed north or south or wherever they’d been assigned. Sometimes he stared out the windows at the dead cities they passed, now abandoned to the elements, and wondered what the world had been like when they’d all been in their glory. Back when this had been North America, not Panem. It must have been fine. A land full of Capitols. Such a waste . . .

He also mentions many times things like "the whole world", etc. Meaning that Panem is at the very least his whole world.

Panem today, Panem tomorrow, Panem forever.

Although much of Coryo's beliefs are based on the propaganda of the Capitol, he is certainly under the impression that the Capitol is the main form of government in existence:

“To what district?” asked Coriolanus.
“No district, really,” said Barb Azure. “Up where the Capitol didn’t care about.”
Coriolanus felt embarrassed for them. No such place existed. At least not anymore. The Capitol controlled the known world. For a moment, he imagined a group of people in wild animal furs scraping out an existence in a cave somewhere. He supposed such a thing could happen, but that life would be a big step down from even the districts. Barely human.


In Chapter Fifteen of Catching Fire Katniss sort of implies that there is other civilization beyond Panem:

I can't argue that Finnick isn't one of the most stunning, sensuous people on the planet.

Notice that she doesn't say "in Panem". This would imply that there are other people elsewhere on the planet and Finnick is even more sensuous than them. If there are any significant amounts of people on other continents, there would likely be some form of governments controlling them.

  • 4
    This seems like completely unfounded speculation. 1) If there isn't anyone anywhere else then the most beautiful woman in Panem is necessarily also the most beautiful woman in the world. 2) Hyperbole is a thing; is "Miss Universe" really the most beautiful being in the entire universe? 3) People, even in quantity != governments; estimates of the population of sub-Saharan Africa pre-colonization are on the order of 10s of millions, and the estimated population of North America pre-Columbus is only slightly less.
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 1:55
  • @DavidW "sort of implies"
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 2:02

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