Bakassi

Bakassi (bäkäˈsē) [key], peninsula, c.400 sq mi (1,000 sq km), E Cameroon, on the Cameroon-Nigeria border, at the SE end of the Gulf of Guinea. The swampy peninsula and associated small islands are strategically located, controlling access to the Nigerian port of Calabar; the surrounding waters are rich in fish and submarine oil deposits. The traditional inhabitants are mainly Efik fishermen with historical ties to Nigeria.

In 1961 the S British Cameroons (a former German colony) became part of Cameroon, while the northern portion joined Nigeria. Control of the peninsula, which was in Nigerian hands, was disputed between the two countries, and military clashes over it occurred sporadically. The dispute was brought in 1994 by Cameroon to International Court of Justice, which awarded the peninsula to Cameroon in 2002. The judgment was largely based on the 1913 Anglo-German agreement that defined the borders of those nations colonies.

A 2006 agreement established a two-year timetable for the handover of the peninsula; the inhabitants could remain as Cameroonian citizens or be resettled in Nigeria. The handover process began in Aug., 2006, when Nigeria withdrew its troops from the region, and the northern portion was transferred to Cameroon. The transfer of the region was completed in Aug., 2008. Many residents moved from Bakassi to Nigeria, both before and after the transfer was completed, and there have been clashes between Cameroonian forces and residents opposed to the handover.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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