Republic of Cameroon

President: Paul Biya (1982)

Prime Minister: Philemon Yang (2009)

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

Capital (2011): Yaoundé, 2.432 million

Largest city: Douala, 2.449 million

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 (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 est.).

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

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.

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: Cameroon

Cambodia Countries Canada

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