Because FIBA and IOC and more organizations recognize them as their own teams. Since 1948 for the IOC actually. They also have their own soccer team recognized by FIFA, sort of(but not really) like how Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own FIFA teams.
Yeah, the Darien Gap is about as wild as it gets. It's known as the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere. It has been crossed by 4wd groups and on foot. Hiring a local guide is necessary and not cheap. Safest way though is by ferry from Colon, Panama to Cartagena, Columbia, $700-$800 for a vehicle and 2 people.
It's not a trip you can or should do in a couple weeks. More like two or three months,even longer. If you are going to go through the expense of outfitting an Overland vehicle you may as well use it to explore the places and people all along the way. Personally I'd spend very little time on the PA Hwy, outside of necessity. It sure is beautiful down there and I'd want to see as much of it as possible. I'd go right to the tip of SA, Cape Horn and maybe take a boat trip within sight of Antarctica.
You would have to pay me stupid money to drive anywhere down there.
I was unfortunate enough to have a limo ride from San Pedro Sula to Tegucigalpa, Honduras eight or ten years ago, and I can't believe I lived through it.
If I was actually driving, I would have pulled over after a couple of miles and just curled up in the fetal position.
That might be the most dangerous stretch of road in Central America, and that was before those cities became murder capitals of the world.
There were buses, like tour buses, passing us on two lane mountain roads at over 50mph. On blind curves.
The Amalfi Coast was like a walk in the park in comparison.
It's easily the most frightened I've ever been in my life.
That sounds typical for many places I've been, lol. It does take some getting used to, I will have to admit. My first experience was on an open bus in the Philippines traversing mountainous jungle areas.
The cool thing is though, if you are overlanding, the majority of the time you are just leisurely cruising along barely travelled roads in the middle of nature most of the time, or along pristine beaches, or crossing streams in the mountains or high plateaus. It doesn't get any better then that!