The nation of Panem was separated into a total of thirteen nation-states known as districts, twelve of which are recognized as operational by the Capitol, and each being responsible for producing, procuring, or refining goods in a particular industry as dictated by the Capitol. All of the districts are subject to the unrelenting will of the authoritarian Capitol, and have no known influence concerning the national politics of Panem beyond their own individual territories.

The districts barely interact with each other since it was illegal, so each district generally has a unique culture unaffected by the other districts. Welfare levels vary significantly, and are often dependent on the goods it produces; some districts, such as 11 and 12, are far more impoverished than wealthier districts like 1 , 2, and 4, though apparently no district is nearly as wealthy as the Capitol itself.

Originally, there were thirteen districts in Panem. During the Dark Days, District 13 was obliterated by the Capitol and is no longer recognized as operational. Each district provides something different to the Capitol.