Thursday, May 14, 2009

The State of Guatemala

The Republic of Guatemala has the largest Central American Population topping out at 13 Million people. Guatemala is slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee. The country is mountainous, except for the south coastal area and the northern vast lowlands of Petén department. Most of Guatemala’s population is spread out throughout the central part of the country in the mountain region where the climate is more comfortable. Guatemala City is in a mountain valley in the south central part of the country. There are many major cities like Escuintla, Quezaltenango, Puerto Barrios, Retlahuleu, Cobán, Chiquimula, Mazatenango. Guatemalans has the most stadiums at roughly 42 in Central America. They are followed by Honduras which has 32 stadiums. The people of Guatemala consider soccer their countries number 1 sport.

The Liga Nacional de Futbol de Guatemala is their top Domestic league. This league had 10 teams but in 2008-09 season the league expanded 2 more teams. This currently brings the League to12. Currently there are 2 tournaments one in the spring and on in the fall. The 12th team is relegated to the Primera Division. The teams finishing 10th and 11th in the final standings enter into a two-legged playoff with the 2nd and 3rd placed clubs of the Primera División de Ascenso, respectively. The playoff winners play in the top division while the losers spend the next season in the second division. The Primera Division has 20 clubs broken into 2 Groups. Winning the Liga is considered the highest honor in Guatemala. The winners of the Spring and Fall season get to represent Guatemala in CONCACAF Champions league.

Liga National has 2 power houses in Municipal and Comunicaciones and both of these teams play in Guatemala City. Municipal has 26 titles while Comunicacions has 22. Club Aroba is a distant 3rd with only 8 Championships. The soccer power is not confined to Guatemala City. None of the other teams presently in the Liga are located in Guatemala City. They are scattered throughout the regions of the country.
Guatemala has a very competitive national team also. The nickname is Los Chapines and their high-water mark was in 1967 when the team won the CONCACAF Championship. Their most recent international Championship for the senior side was 2001. Los Chapines won the regional UNCAF Cup. They were also runner up 4 times to this Central American Championship.
Their best performance was in the Gold Cup was in 1996 placing 4th. This is the team I expect to compete with the elite in CONCACAF but I am still waiting.
They recently crashed out of the World Cup Qualifying in 2008. They pounded Saint Lucia 9-1 aggregate in the second round. They were then placed in a very formidable group with the Yanks, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba. They ended with 1 win, 2 draws and 3 ties. This was not enough for advancement.

They consider Mexico their main rival since they border each other.

· Guatemala Guatemala is divided into 22 departments (departamentos) and sub-divided into about 332 municipalities (municipios).
· On October 16, 1996, minutes before a 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification match between Guatemala and Costa Rica was to take place, at least 83 people were killed and more than 140 injured as an excessive number of fans attempted to enter the General Sur section, creating a human avalanche into the bottom of the stands, which is separated from the field by a fence
· Guatemala is heavily centralized. Transportation, communications, business, politics, and the most relevant urban activity takes place in Guatemala City. There is only one highway that traverses the greater communities of the country. Some coastal towns are accessible only through the coast by boats.

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