This novel occurs in an unspecified year some time in the future after some kind of disaster has wiped out America off the face of the planet as we know it. What is left in North America is the city of Panem which controls ruthlessly the twelve districts that surround it. Each district is responsible for the production of certain raw materials and commodities that are vital for Panem to continue. Therefore District 12, where Katniss and Peeta come from, produces coal and other metals and materials through its mining.
However, what is interesting about the setting is the way in which, although we are in a future dystopia, in many ways, life seems to have gone backwards rather than developed and advanced. Katniss and her family seem to live in extremely primitive conditions. She is forced to hunt using a bow and a arrow in the forest to provide for her family, and her mother uses herbs and flowers rather than medicine to heal the injuries of her community. We quickly realises that Panem controls all the wealth and technology and that those who dwell in the Districts are forced to work like slaves, having nothing and earning little for their labours. We are introduced to a society that is therefore profoundly unjust.