Republic of Cameroon

President: Paul Biya (1982)

Prime Minister: Ephraïm Inoni (2004)

Land area: 181,251 sq mi (469,440 sq km); total area: 183,567 sq mi (475,440 sq km)

Population (2012 est.): 20,129,878 (growth rate: 2.08%); birth rate: 32.49/1000; infant mortality rate: 59.7/1000; life expectancy: 54.71; density per sq km: 39

Capital (2009): Yaoundé, 1,739,000

Largest city: Douala, 2,053,000

Monetary unit: CFA Franc

National name: République du Cameroun

Current government officials

Languages: French, English (both official); 24 major African language groups

Ethnicity/race: Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwest Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%, other African 13%, non-African less than 1%

National Holiday: Republic Day (National Day), May 20

Religions: indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Islam 20%

Literacy rate: 75.9% (2011 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $47.12 billion; per capita $2,300. Real growth rate: —3.8%. Inflation: 3.4%. Unemployment: 30% (2011 est.). Arable land: 13%. Agriculture: coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber. Labor force: 8.083 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: $5.361 billion f.o.b. (2011 est.): crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton. Imports: $5.901 billion f.o.b. (2011 est.): machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food. Major trading partners: Spain, Italy, UK, France, U.S., South Korea, Netherlands, Nigeria, Belgium, China, Germany (2004).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 496,500 (2011); mobile cellular: 10.409 million (2011). Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 3 (2002). Television broadcast stations: 1 (2002). Internet hosts: 9,553 (2011). Internet users: 749,600 (2011); note: Cameroon also had more than 100 cyber-cafes in 2001.

Transportation: Railways: total: 987 km (2011). Highways: total: 51,000 km; (2011 est.). Waterways: navigation mainly on Benue River; limited during rainy season (2004). Ports and harbors: Douala, Limboh Terminal. Airports: 34 (2011 est.).

International disputes: ICJ ruled in 2002 on the entire Cameroon-Nigeria land and maritime boundary but the parties formed a Joint Border Commission, which continues to meet regularly to resolve differences bilaterally and have commenced with demarcation in less-contested sections of the boundary, starting in Lake Chad in the north; implementation of the ICJ ruling on the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea-Nigeria maritime boundary in the Gulf of Guinea is impeded by imprecisely defined coordinates, the unresolved Bakassi allocation, and a sovereignty dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon over an island at the mouth of the Ntem River; Nigeria initially rejected cession of the Bakasi Peninsula, then agreed, but has yet to withdraw its forces while much of the indigenous population opposes cession; only Nigeria and Cameroon have heeded the Lake Chad Commission's admonition to ratify the delimitation treaty which also includes Chad and Niger.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of Cameroon

Geography | Government | History


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 republic.


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.

See also Encyclopedia: Cameroon.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Cameroon

Cambodia Countries Canada

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