I recently updated the World Championship and Olympic Qualification pages (See links on right hand side) and in doing so I got a bit of a geography lesson. And that lesson is the following:
There is no definitive agreed upon standard for defining what countries are part of North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
For sure, no one is ever going to place Canada in South America or Argentina in North America, but when you start talking about the countries in the middle of Pan America it’s wide open for debate. Depending on the context and who’s talking Mexico is or isn’t part of Central America and the Caribbean nations can simply consist of the islands in the midst of that sea or those islands plus nations on the continent with coastlines on the sea. Setting aside the generic debate, in the context of Team Handball those regions can be defined. Albeit, it depends on what competition you’re concerned. Confused? So, was I. So, here forthwith is an explanation that should help clear things up a bit.
1) The Pan American Team Handball Federation has administratively divided Pan America into 3 regions: North & Caribbean, Central and South. Those 3 regions are depicted in the top picture and qualification events for Pan American Championships are held every 2 years (Men) (Women) for the nations in those regions. The Pan American Championships also serve as the qualification event for the World Championships, with typically 3 teams (and sometimes 4) earning slots.
2) The Pan American (PANAM) Games is a quadrennial event organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO). Qualification for the Team Handball Tournament at the PANAM Games is depicted in the bottom picture and is grouped into 3 regions: North, Central & Caribbean and South. Qualification for the PANAM Games takes place every four years.
3) The Caribbean island nations (Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago) and Mexico swing back and forth. They are grouped with with the North nations for Pan American Championship qualification and grouped with the Central nations for PANAM Games qualification
4) Greenland is recognized by PATHF and therefore can participate in Pan American Championships Qualification. Greenland, however, is not recognized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and therefore cannot participate in PANAM Games Qualification.
5) For PANAM Games qualification Colombia and Venezuela can participate in either South American qualification or Central & Caribbean qualification. Granted, give the current relative strengths of both regions it would be far more difficult to qualify through the South American Games, but they have that option
6) Some competitions can serve as qualification events for both Pan American Championships and PANAM Games competition. For example, this is the case with the upcoming South American Games this March in Chile. The top 3 nations at this event will earn slots for the 2015 PANAM Games and the top 5 nations will earn slots for the 2014 Pan American Championships. And adding a little more confusion is the practicality that Colombia and Venezuela would likely participate in this event for Pan American Championship qualification purposes only.
Enlarged View of Pan American Championships Qualification Map: Link
Enlarged View of PANAM Games Qualification Map: Link