Republic of Cameroon
President: Paul Biya (1982)
Prime Minister: Philemon Yang
Land area: 181,251 sq mi (469,440 sq km);
total area: 183,567 sq mi (475,440 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 23,130,708
(growth rate: 2.6%); birth rate: 36.58/1000; infant mortality rate:
55.1/1000; life expectancy: 57.35
Yaoundé, 2.432 million
Largest city: Douala, 2.449 million
Monetary unit: CFA Franc
National name: République du
Current government officials
French, English (both official); 24 major
African language groups
Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu
19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwest Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%,
other African 13%, non-African less than 1%
Republic Day (National Day), May 20
indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Islam
Literacy rate: 75.9% (2011 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013
est.): $53.16 billion; per capita $2,400. Real growth rate:
4.6%. Inflation: 2.6%. Unemployment: 30% (2011 est.).
Arable land: 13.04%. Agriculture: coffee, cocoa, cotton,
rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber.
Labor force: 8.426 million; agriculture 70%, industry and
commerce 13%, other 17%. Industries: petroleum production and
refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer
goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair. Natural resources:
petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower. Exports:
$6.002 billion (2013 est.): crude oil and petroleum products,
lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton. Imports:
$6.795 billion (2013 est.): machinery, electrical
equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food. Major trading
partners: Spain, Italy, France, U.S.,
Netherlands, Nigeria, Belgium, China, Portugal (2012).
Communications: Telephones: main lines
in use: 737,400 (2012); mobile cellular: 13.1 million (2012).
Broadcast media: government maintains tight control over broadcast media; state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), broadcasting on both a TV and radio network, was the only officially recognized and fully licensed broadcaster until August 2007 when the government finally issued licenses to 2 private TV broadcasters and 1 private radio broadcaster; about 70 privately owned, unlicensed radio stations operating but are subject to closure at any time; foreign news services required to partner with state-owned national station (2007). Internet
hosts: 10,201 (2012). Internet users: 749,600 (2009).
Transportation: Railways: total: 1,245
km (2011). Highways: total: 51,350 km (2011 est.). Waterways: (major rivers in the south, such as the Wouri and the Sanaga, are largely non-navigable; in the north, the Benue, which connects through Nigeria to the Niger River, is navigable in the rainy season only to the port of Garoua) (2010). Ports and
harbors: Douala (Wouri); Garoua (Benoue), Limboh Terminal. Airports: 33 (2013
International disputes: Joint Border Commission with Nigeria reviewed 2002 ICJ ruling on the entire boundary and bilaterally resolved differences, including June 2006 Greentree Agreement that immediately ceded sovereignty of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon with a full phase-out of Nigerian control and patriation of residents in 2008; Cameroon and Nigeria agreed on maritime delimitation in March 2008; sovereignty dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon over an island at the mouth of the Ntem River; only Nigeria and Cameroon have heeded the Lake Chad Commission's admonition to ratify the delimitation treaty, which also includes the Chad-Niger and Niger-Nigeria boundaries.
Major sources and definitions
Cameroon is a Central African nation on the Gulf
of Guinea, bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, the
Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. It is nearly twice the
size of Oregon. Mount Cameroon (13,350 ft; 4,069 m), near the coast, is
the highest elevation in the country. The main rivers are the Benue,
Nyong, and Sanaga.
After a 1972 plebiscite, a unitary republic was
formed out of East and West Cameroon to replace the former federal
Bantu speakers were among the first groups to
settle Cameroon, followed by the Muslim Fulani in the 18th and 19th
centuries. The land escaped colonial rule until 1884, when treaties with
tribal chiefs brought the area under German domination. After World War I,
the League of Nations gave the French a mandate over 80% of the area, and
the British 20% adjacent to Nigeria. After World War II, when the country
came under a UN trusteeship in 1946, self-government was granted, and the
Cameroon People's Union emerged as the dominant party by campaigning for
reunification of French and British Cameroon and for independence. Accused
of being under Communist control, the party waged a campaign of
revolutionary terror from 1955 to 1958, when it was crushed. In British
Cameroon, unification was also promoted by the leading party, the Kamerun
National Democratic Party, led by John Foncha.
Cameroon Becomes an Independent Republic
France set up Cameroon as an autonomous state in
1957, and the next year its legislative assembly voted for independence by
1960. In 1959 a fully autonomous government of Cameroon was formed under
Ahmadou Ahidjo. Cameroon became an independent republic on Jan. 1, 1960.
In 1961 the southern part of the British territory joined the new Federal
Republic of Cameroon and the northern section voted for unification with
Nigeria. The president of Cameroon since independence, Ahmadou Ahidjo was
replaced in 1982 by the prime minister, Paul Biya. Both administrations
have been authoritarian.
With the expansion of oil, timber, and coffee
exports, the economy has continued to improve, although corruption is
prevalent, and environmental degradation remains a concern. In June 2000
the World Bank agreed to provide more than $200 million to build a $3.7
billion pipeline connecting the oil fields in neighboring Chad with the
Cameroon coast. In Aug. 2006 Nigeria turned over the disputed oil-rich
Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon—Nigeria had been resisting the World
Court ruling since 2002.
Constitutional Amendment Allows Biya to Remain in Power
Parliament amended Cameroon's constitution in April 2008 to allow President Biya to run for a third seven-year term in 2011. He won the 2011 election in a landslide, taking 78% of the vote. His opponents and international observers alleged the election was unfair.
Boko Haram Targets Civilians in Cameroon
Boko Haram, the fundamentalist Islamist sect based in Nigeria, began kidnapping civilians and attacking villages in northern Cameroon in 2013. The government deployed about 1,000 troops to the border with Nigeria in May 2014 in an attempt to thwart the cross-border incursions by Boko Haram. The deployment further emboldened the militants, and they escalated their attacks. In January 2015, Chad sent 2,000 troops to Cameroon to help in the fight against the group. Boko Haram is opposed to Western education, political philosophy, and society, and seeks to overthrow the government and implement sharia throughout the country. The group's name translates to "Western education is sinful."
See also Encyclopedia: Cameroon.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes:
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