District 12 specializes in mining (mainly coal) and is the farthest from the capitol. They are at a disadvantage in the Hunger Games because they don't learn their district specialty until they are 18. Katniss, Peeta, and other major characters come from District 12. They are Mrs. Mellark, Mr. Everdeen, Mrs. Everdeen, Madge Undersee, Primrose Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne. It is located in the Appalachian Mountains, and the district itself is split into two distinct housing areas and social classes. "The Seam" is a slum where those who work in the coal mines live, whereas the mercantile class lives in the town, centered around the "Square". Both classes are easy to distinguish physically and generally socialize amongst themselves. Those from the Seam generally have dark hair, grey eyes and olive skin, and those from merchant families typically have blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. Katniss is from The Seam, whereas Peeta is a baker's son from town. It is unclear if this class divide exists in other Districts or is unique to District 12. On the victory tour in Catching Fire Katniss mentions that she cannot see where the well to do live in District 11; as it surely isn't the square where their speech is being held. She also notes that many members of the crowd during the Victory Tour seem even poorer than the Seam inhabitants in 12.
District 12 is very poor and starvation is a major issue for the citizens. Due to the lack of food, the local Capitol authority figures - the Mayor and Peacekeepers — often bend the extremely strict Panem laws. The electric fence surrounding the district to prevent access to the woods is usually turned off, and Katniss and her friend Gale often hunt there for food for their families or to raise money by selling their catches on the local black market. The black market, located at an old coal warehouse named the Hob, was where many of the citizens made their money. The Hob was destroyed by the Peacekeepers (whose local commander was replaced) in Catching Fire. This was followed by the bombing of the entire district after the escape of the tributes during the 75th Hunger Games. However, Gale managed to evacuate about 10% of the population—"a little under 900 people"—to District 13.
District 12 has won only two Hunger Games prior to the events of the first book; its only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, survived the second Quarter Quell, where there were twice as many tributes as usual.
After the war, it is hinted in Mockingjay that District 12 will produce medicine and start growing some food for Panem instead of producing coal.