Cameroon


Cameroon
Cameroonian, adj., n.
/kam'euh roohn"/, n.
1. Also, Cameroun. Official name, United Republic of Cameroon. an independent republic in W Africa: formed 1960 by the French trusteeship of Cameroun; Southern Cameroons incorporated as a self-governing province 1961. 14,677,510; 183,350 sq. mi. (474,877 sq. km). Cap.: Yaoundé.
2. an active volcano in W Cameroon: highest peak on the coast of W Africa. 13,370 ft. (4075 m).

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Cameroon

Introduction Cameroon -
Background: The former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of an ethnic oligarchy. Geography Cameroon
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria
Geographic coordinates: 6 00 N, 12 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 475,440 sq km water: 6,000 sq km land: 469,440 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 4,591 km border countries: Central African Republic 797 km, Chad 1,094 km, Republic of the Congo 523 km, Equatorial Guinea 189 km, Gabon 298 km, Nigeria 1,690 km
Coastline: 402 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 50 NM
Climate: varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north
Terrain: diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m highest point: Fako (on Cameroon Mountain) 4,095 m
Natural resources: petroleum, bauxite, iron ore, timber, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 12.81% permanent crops: 2.58% other: 84.62% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 330 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes Environment - current issues: water-borne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94 signed, but not ratified: Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note: sometimes referred to as the hinge of Africa; throughout the country there are areas of thermal springs and indications of current or prior volcanic activity; Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in Sub-Saharan west Africa, is an active volcano People Cameroon -
Population: 16,184,748 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.1% (male 3,443,505; female 3,367,571) 15-64 years: 54.5% (male 4,431,524; female 4,392,155) 65 years and over: 3.4% (male 253,242; female 296,751) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.36% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 35.66 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 12.08 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: NA migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/ female total population: 1.01 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 68.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 54.36 years female: 55.23 years (2002 est.) male: 53.51 years
Total fertility rate: 4.72 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 7.73% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 540,000 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 52,000 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Cameroonian(s) adjective: Cameroonian
Ethnic groups: Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwestern Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%, other African 13%, non- African less than 1%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
Languages: 24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 63.4% male: 75% female: 52.1% (1995 est.) Government Cameroon -
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon conventional short form: Cameroon former: French Cameroon
Government type: unitary republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990) note: preponderance of power remains with the president
Capital: Yaounde Administrative divisions: 10 provinces; Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extreme-Nord, Littoral, Nord, Nord- Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Ouest
Independence: 1 January 1960 (from French- administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday: Republic Day (National Day), 20 May (1972)
Constitution: 20 May 1972 approved by referendum; 2 June 1972 formally adopted; revised January 1996
Legal system: based on French civil law system, with common law influence; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Paul BIYA (since 6 November 1982) elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 12 October 1997 (next to be held NA October 2004); prime minister appointed by the president head of government: Prime Minister Peter Mafany MUSONGE (since 19 September 1996) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from proposals submitted by the prime minister election results: President Paul BIYA reelected; percent of vote - Paul BIYA 92.6%; note - supporters of the opposition candidates boycotted the elections, making a comparison of vote shares relatively meaningless
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (180 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - the president can either lengthen or shorten the term of the legislature) elections: last held 17 May 1997 (next to be held NA 2002) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RDCP 109, SDF 43, UNDP 13, UDC 5, UPC- K 1, MDR 1, MLDC 1; note - results from seven contested seats were canceled by the Supreme Court, further elections on 3 August 1997 gave these seats to the RDCP note: the constitution calls for an upper chamber for the legislature, to be called a Senate, but it has yet to be established
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president); High Court of Justice (consists of nine judges and 6 substitute judges, elected by the National Assembly) Political parties and leaders: Cameroonian Democratic Union or UDC [Adamou NDAM NJOYA]; Democratic Rally of the Cameroon People or RDCP [Paul BIYA]; Movement for the Defense of the Republic or MDR [Dakole DAISSALA]; Movement for the Liberation and Development of Cameroon or MLDC [leader Marcel YONDO]; Movement for the Youth of Cameroon or MYC [Dieudonne TINA]; National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Maigari BELLO BOUBA, chairman]; Social Democratic Front or SDF [John FRU NDI]; Union of Cameroonian Populations or UPC [Augustin Frederic KODOCK] Political pressure groups and Southern Cameroon National Council
leaders: [Frederick Ebong ALOBWEDE]; Human Rights Defense Group [Albert MUKONG, president] International organization ACCT, ACP, AfDB, BDEAC, C, CCC,
participation: CEEAC, CEMAC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-19, G- 77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MONUC, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMIK, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Jerome MENDOUGA chancery: 2349 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 FAX: [1] (202) 387-3826 telephone: [1] (202) 265-8790 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador George
US: McDade STAPLES embassy: Rue Nachtigal, Yaounde mailing address: P. O. Box 817, Yaounde; pouch: American Embassy, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2520 telephone: [237] 23-40-14, 22-17-94 FAX: [237] 23-07-53 branch office(s): Douala
Flag description: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), red, and yellow with a yellow five-pointed star centered in the red band; uses the popular pan- African colors of Ethiopia Economy Cameroon
Economy - overview: Because of its oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub- Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as a top-heavy civil service and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. Since 1990, the government has embarked on various IMF and World Bank programs designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, improve trade, and recapitalize the nation's banks. In June 2000, the government completed an IMF- sponsored, three-year structural adjustment program; however, the IMF is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency and privatization. International oil and cocoa prices have considerable impact on the economy.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $26.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.9% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 44% industry: 20% services: 36% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 48% (2000 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (2000 est.)
Labor force: NA Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 70%, industry and commerce 13%, other 17%
Unemployment rate: 30% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $2.2 billion expenditures: $2.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY00/01 est.)
Industries: petroleum production and refining, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber Industrial production growth rate: 4.2% (1999 est.) Electricity - production: 3.623 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 2.57% hydro: 97.43% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 3.369 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber
Exports: $2.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: crude oil and petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton
Exports - partners: Italy 24%, France 18%, Netherlands 10% (2000 est.)
Imports: $1.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, electrical equipment, transport equipment, fuel, food
Imports - partners: France 29%, Germany 7%, US 6%, Japan 6% (2000 est.)
Debt - external: $10.9 billion (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: on 23 January 2001, the Paris Club agreed to reduce Cameroon's debt of $1.3 billion by $900 million; total debt relief now amounts to $1.26 billion
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code: XAF
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 742.79 (January 2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70 (1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997); note - from 1 January 1999, the XAF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XAF per euro
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June Communications Cameroon - Telephones - main lines in use: 95,000 (2001) Telephones - mobile cellular: 300,000 (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: available only to business and government domestic: cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 11, FM 8, shortwave 3 (1998)
Radios: 2.27 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (1998)
Televisions: 450,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .cm Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 29 (2002)
Internet users: 20,000 (2000) note: in 2000, Cameroon also had 112 cyber-cafes Transportation Cameroon -
Railways: total: 1,104 km narrow gauge: 1,104 km 1.000-m gauge (1995 est.)
Highways: total: 34,300 km paved: 4,288 km unpaved: 30,012 km (1995)
Waterways: 2,090 km (of decreasing importance)
Ports and harbors: Bonaberi, Douala, Garoua, Kribi, Tiko
Airports: 49 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 11 over 3,047 m: 2 2,438 to 3,047 m: 4 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 38 1,524 to 2,437 m: 7 914 to 1,523 m: 21 under 914 m: 10 (2001) Military Cameroon -
Military branches: Army, Navy (includes naval infantry), Air Force, National Gendarmerie, Presidential Guard Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 3,872,965 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 1,959,357 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 174,308 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $118.6 million (FY00/01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.4% (FY98/99)
GDP: Transnational Issues Cameroon - Disputes - international: oral arguments on the land and maritime boundary disputes between Cameroon and Nigeria were presented to the ICJ; disputes center around Bakasi Peninsula, where armed clashes continue, Bouram Island on Lake Chad, and the maritime boundary and economic zone dispute in the Gulf of Guinea, which also involves Equatorial Guinea; Lake Chad Basin Commission urges signatories Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to ratify delimitation treaty over lake region, the site of continuing armed clashes

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French Cameroun officially Republic of Cameroon

Country, West Africa.

Area: 183,591 sq mi (475,501 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 16,185,000. Capital: Yaoundé. The country has more than 200 different ethnic groups, including the Fang (one-fifth of the population), Bamileke (one-fifth), Duala, and Fulani. Pygmies (locally known as Baguielli and Babinga) live in the southern forests. Languages: French and English (official), Fula, Bamileke, Duala. Religions: traditional religions, Christianity, Islam (predominant in the north). Currency: CFA franc. Cameroon has four geographic regions. The southern area consists of coastal plains and a densely forested plateau. The central region rises progressively to the north and includes the Adamawa Plateau. In the north a savanna plain slopes downward toward the Lake Chad basin. To the west and north along the Nigerian border the relief is mountainous and includes Mount Cameroon. Of the main rivers, the Sanaga drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and the Benue flows westward into the Niger River basin in Nigeria. Cameroon has a developing market economy based largely on agriculture. It is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president and its head of government the prime minister. Long inhabited before European colonization, Cameroon was peopled by Bantu-language speakers coming from equatorial Africa to settle in the south. They were followed by Muslim Fulani from the Niger River basin, who settled in the north. Portuguese explorers visited in the late 15th century and established a foothold, but they lost control to the Dutch in the 17th century. In 1884 the Germans took control and extended their protectorate over Cameroon. In World War I joint French-British action forced the Germans to retreat, and after the war the region was divided into French and British administrative zones. After World War II the two areas became UN trusteeships. In 1960 the French trust territory became an independent republic. In 1961 the southern part of the British trust territory voted for union with the new republic of Cameroon, and the northern part voted for union with Nigeria. In recent decades economic problems have produced unrest in the country.

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▪ 2009

Area:
475,650 sq km (183,649 sq mi), excluding the 700-sq-km (270-sq-mi) Bakassi Peninsula
Population
(2008 est.): 18,468,000, excluding the Bakassi Peninsula
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ephraïm Inoni

      Ignoring widespread complaints from opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations, Cameroonian Pres. Paul Biya announced in early January 2008 his intention to eliminate the two- term limit of presidential office defined by the constitution. Throughout February a national transport strike to protest huge increases in food and fuel prices turned into antigovernment demonstrations against the planned constitutional amendment. By February 29 at least 100 people had died in the violence as security forces attempted to restore order in Yaoundé, Douala, and Bamenda. Human rights organizations charged the government with arresting hundreds of youths and conducting a campaign of intimidation and censorship against the press. Three private radio stations were taken off the air in March for their coverage of the demonstrations. On April 21, a few days after the parliament passed the amendment, the opposition Social Democratic Front declared a day of mourning for the constitution.

      On August 14 Nigeria officially relinquished the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon, six years after the World Court decision to uphold Cameroon's claims to the oil-rich area. In the months before the handover, more than 50 people died in clashes between the mainly Nigerian residents and the Cameroonian army. Despite President Biya's August 22 promise of security for all, an estimated 100,000 people fled Bakassi for Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria.

      In early February, clashes in the capital of Chad between the military and antigovernment protesters caused some 40,000 people to flee into northeastern Cameroon. The UN established new camps for this latest wave of refugees. On February 21 the UN announced that it had also completed the vaccination of 35,000 children against measles and polio in that same region.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2008

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 18,060,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ephraïm Inoni

      Some 20 members of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) were arrested on Jan. 20, 2007, while trying to hold a press conference. The SCNC, which had been banned in 2001 after violent conflicts with the police, was demanding the secession of the two western English-speaking provinces and the establishment of an independent Anglophone Cameroon. In contrast to the ongoing separatist debate, many young people were adopting a new language, dubbed “Camfranglais,” in an effort to improve communication in a country with more than 250 African languages. Teachers complained in February that Franglais (a mixture of English, French, and the creole language) was having a profound effect on how students spoke and wrote French and English, Cameroon's two official languages.

      In Douala hundreds of homes and businesses were bulldozed in April by orders of the city council to make way for new roads. Although owners claimed that they had paid property taxes to the local government, the council insisted that the structures were illegal and had never received planning permission.

      Despite a reportedly low voter turnout (62%) for the July 22 legislative and municipal elections, Pres. Paul Biya's Democratic Rally of the Cameroonian People (RDPC) won a landslide victory. The RDPC increased its absolute majority in the 180-seat parliament from 149 to 152 seats and won control of more than 300 of the country's 363 local governments.

 In January, Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao paid a state visit to Yaoundé. Presidents Hu and Biya signed a series of cooperative agreements and concessionary loans, including an interest-free $3.86 million loan for projects to be determined by the Cameroonian government.

      Tragedy struck on February 5 when a motorized canoe carrying more than 100 passengers and heavy cargo sank after leaving the port of Tiko en route to Oron, Nigeria; more than 20 people drowned. Then, on May 5, minutes after taking off from the Douala airport, a Kenya Airways plane crashed into marshlands, killing all 114 passengers and crew.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2007

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 17,341,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ephraïm Inoni

      Four years after the International Court of Justice ruled on the ownership of the Bakassi peninsula, a joint ceremony held on Aug. 14, 2006, marked the transfer of sovereignty of the oil-rich area from Nigeria to Cameroon. This followed decades of armed clashes and near war between the two nations. In the presence of officials from both nations and observers from Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, Nigerian troops withdrew from the northern part of the territory. The flag of Cameroon was raised, although under the terms of an agreement negotiated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and signed in June, no troops from either side would be stationed in the territory for the next five years, and Nigeria would continue to govern the southern portion for two more years.

      On March 11, one month after an opposition newspaper published a list of 31 Cameroonian millionaires (the majority of whom were civil servants), Pres. Paul Biya decreed the creation of a new Anti- Corruption Commission. The National Assembly passed a law on March 22 requiring all cabinet ministers to reveal their wealth on the assumption and termination of office. These anticorruption measures aside, strict controls over the press remained in force. On April 20 a Yaoundé court convicted publisher Michel Moussala of defamation after his newspaper had accused Minister of Finance Polycarpe Abah Abah of misappropriating public funds and depositing billions of CFA francs in foreign banks.

      The census of civil servants begun in 2005 revealed a further 45,000 nonexistent employees, a situation that was costing the government $10 million a month. This followed revelations in March that the social security system had been paying allowances to thousands of families claiming fictitious children.

      On February 19 Cameroon and the U.S. signed an open- skies agreement that would allow the operation of unrestricted flights between the two countries. In May the IMF announced the cancellation of 27% of Cameroon's public debt, and in June France granted a five-year, $627 million aid package intended to help reduce poverty. The government-owned Cameroon Airlines was sold to a joint Belgium and Cameroon consortium on July 3, completing the privatization process urged by international donors.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2006

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 16,988,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni

      In 2005, three years after the International Court of Justice had delineated the 1,600-km (1,000-mi) border between Cameroon and Nigeria, the implementation of the ruling remained stalled. The Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission met on July 28 for its first session of the year to continue discussions under the auspices and funding of the UN. An agreement was reached on July 29 to establish a new committee to draw up a final timetable for the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the oil-rich peninsula.

      Cameroon Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni's campaign to eliminate government corruption and inefficiency targeted the attendance records of civil servants. Two high officials in the Ministry of Education were sacked in early January for failing to appear at their desks. On January 14 hundreds of workers who arrived after 8 AM found themselves locked out of their ministries. Three senior civil servants at the Ministry of Public Service, arrested on charges of embezzlement on June 3, were convicted of having appropriated 450 million CFA francs ($865,000) of ministry funds. This anticorruption program did not prevent the government from imprisoning editor Joseph Ahanda on July 6, after his weekly newspaper, Le Front, published articles about the alleged embezzlement of 300 million CFA francs (about $575,000) by the head of Cameroon's postal service.

      During the second week of a strike, two students were killed on April 28 in a clash with security forces at the University of Buéa. Students demanded the abolition of tuition fees and called for improved teaching and the modernization of laboratory and living conditions. In May the strike spread to the Universities of Douala and Dschang, and hundreds of students were arrested and at least five more killed. By the end of the month, the government released nearly $5 million to meet some of the students' demands. Secondary schools were also disrupted by a series of teacher strikes and unofficial walkouts.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2005

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 16,064,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Peter Mafany Musonge and, from December 8, Ephraim Inoni

      Cameroon's main opposition parties once again faced failure in their efforts to defeat Pres. Paul Biya's bid for a third term in the presidential election held on Oct. 11, 2004. Despite an agreement the previous year between the Social Democratic Front (SDF) and the Democratic Union of Cameroon (UDC) to unite behind a single candidate under the umbrella of the National Coalition for Reconciliation and Reconstruction, both parties nominated their own leaders.

      Opposition parties organized weekly protest marches in Yaoundé beginning in June. They demanded the computerization of the electoral rolls to eliminate the “ghost voters” supposedly widely employed by the government in the 1997 election. The government refused to consider such computerization, claiming that the costs of doing so would be prohibitive. The SDF suspended a demonstration called for August 30, which was intended to protest the assassination of a local SDF leader who had been killed during the night of August 20, after an election rally; 11 persons were taken into custody in connection with the murder. Canada, the U.K., and Japan donated 63,000 transparent ballot boxes in the international effort to reduce vote fraud in the country. Turnout was high, and Biya won handily with about 75% of the vote.

      Two BBC journalists were briefly imprisoned in July while visiting Cameroonian villages on the Bakassi peninsula. Both Nigeria and Cameroon claimed ownership of the oil-rich region, and under the auspices of a United Nations agreement, Nigeria was to withdraw by September 15. “Technical difficulties,” however, forced a further delay.

      President Biya attended ceremonies on August 15 marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Provence in southern France, in which Cameroonians, serving in the Tirailleurs Sénégalais alongside thousands of other West African troops, played a major role. On August 31 Prime Minister Peter Musonge officially opened a new floating bridge over the Mungo River to replace one that had collapsed in July. The bridge linked the francophone Cameroon with the anglophone Sud-Ouest region.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2004

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 15,746,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      Late in 2002 the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Cameroon in the territorial dispute over possession of the Bakassi peninsula. Nigeria, which had been contesting the ownership of the oil-rich area since 1993, initially refused to accept the judgment. Several bilateral meetings were held to find a peaceful solution to the issue, and in November Nigeria relinquished 32 disputed border villages, but it was uncertain when Nigeria would cede the peninsula to Cameroon. Charges had been leveled on May 21 that Nigeria was financing dissidents in northern Cameroon opposed to the policies of Pres. Paul Biya.

      Sixteen leaders of Cameroon's opposition parties protested after the government prohibited them from holding a press conference on February 5. The government shut down two privately owned television stations on February 19 following their broadcast of a political debate critical of the president. Similar action was taken on March 19, when a private radio station was accused of having insulted the government and the president; another radio station was closed on May 23. On April 16 the U.S. State Department published a stinging report on the government's record on human rights in general and prison conditions in particular. At least five people were killed in Douala on July 9 when a demonstration against police corruption and harassment turned violent.

      The government pledged on April 24 to launch an initiative designed to facilitate especially the growth of the private sector of the economy. On April 28 Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge announced the opening of the Douala Stock Exchange, the first to be set up in Central Africa and a project more than three years in the making. The World Bank announced a loan of $49.7 million to assist Cameroon in reducing its commercial debt. A $200 million shipyard for the repair of deep-sea oil platforms was to be built in Limbé, on the southwest coast.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2003

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 16,185,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      Pres. Paul Biya's Cameroon People's Democratic Movement crushed the opposition in the country's June 30, 2002, legislative elections, increasing its majority of the 180 seats from 116 to 133. Despite opposition charges of widespread fraud, observers representing the Commonwealth and the United Nations declared the elections to have been generally fair, although marred by poor preparation and disorganization at the polls. The Supreme Court still voided the results in 9 districts (17 seats) owing to voting irregularities and set new elections for September 15. John Fru Ndi's Social Democratic Front did poorly in the elections, retaining only 21 of its 43 seats and managing to hold on to control of 10 municipal councils. Ndi's brief threat to boycott the parliament and the municipal councils was rescinded, however, on July 12. The new government, announced on August 25, contained a sprinkling of opposition members, and 20 ministers would be serving in the cabinet for the first time.

      In mid-February the International Court of Justice began hearings on the long-standing dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over ownership of the Bakassi peninsula. The court awarded the oil-rich peninsula to Cameroon in October.

      Oil company officials announced on April 8 that construction of infrastructure for the Chad-Cameroon pipeline had begun and that they anticipated production in Chad to be under way by 2004. The controversial undertaking, opposed by many environmental groups in both countries, was expected to bring Cameroon $500 million in transit fees and taxes over the projected 25–30-year life of the scheme.

      The government on March 26 inaugurated a $6 million, three-year program to combat AIDS. Its goal was to reduce the national HIV infection rate to less than 10%.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2002

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 15,803,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      Following an inquiry into a February 18 explosion and fire at Yaoundé's armory, Col. Jean-Paul Mengot, chief of the Presidential Guard, was dismissed on Feb. 23, 2001, and an unspecified number of soldiers were arrested. Fears that a military coup might be under way had created near panic in the city. On July 26, in an effort to defuse reports of growing discontent within the military, Pres. Paul Biya ordered a total reorganization of the nation's armed forces.

      The disappearance of nine men arrested in Douala in January for theft caused widespread anger against the Operational Command (OC), a special paramilitary crime-fighting unit that had been created by presidential decree in February 2000. On April 7, President Biya fired the OC commander, Brig.-Gen. Philippe Mpay. Several other officers of the unit, which was suspected of having carried out hundreds of summary executions, were arrested on April 7–8. On June 15 the OC was disbanded.

      Six men charged with high treason for membership in the Anglophone secessionist Southern Cameroon National Council were freed on March 20 after 14 months in prison, but authorities termed the releases temporary while investigations continued. Relations between the main opposition party, Ndi's Social Democratic Front (SDF), and the government deteriorated further when the SDF accused the state-controlled media of exercising partisan censorship over its broadcasts.

      In February scientists from around the world began removing poisonous gases from Lake Nyos; emissions from the volcanic crater had killed several thousand people over the past 15 years.

      The government took vigorous action to reduce its internal debt, and full payment of all outstanding salary arrears was made to civil servants.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2001

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 15,422,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visited Cameroon in February 2000 to review the country's structural adjustment plan. Although the three-year plan was achieving some success, the IMF, along with the World Bank, was apparently dissatisfied with the management of the state oil revenues derived from the estimated five million tons of petroleum produced annually. Logging companies registered strong complaints about the impact of new legislation that required the processing of 70% of lumber before it was exported. The government insisted, however, that the partial ban on the export of unprocessed logs had already created 6,000 new jobs in sawmills. On June 6 the World Bank approved a $3.7 billion pipeline project that would move oil from Chad to Cameroon's coast; Cameroon was expected to gain $20 million annually in transit fees. Environmentalists opposed the project, however, claiming that one of the world's last large tropical forests would be severely damaged and that it would have a highly detrimental effect on the lives of nomadic herders.

      In December 1999 members of the separatist Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) had seized a local radio station in Buea and aired an appeal for independence for the Anglophone area. Six weeks later Prime Minister Peter Musonge made an unscheduled visit to the region and appealed to the SCNC to preserve peace and to seek an acceptable solution to the perennial strife between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon.

      Mt. Cameroon, 313 km (195 mi) southwest of Yaoundé, erupted on May 20. Because the lava flowed down mostly on a thinly populated side, there were no reports of damage. In mid-August gendarmes crossed the border into Taraba state in neighbouring Nigeria, where they arrested several Nigerian citizens. The Cameroonian consul in Cross River state, Nigeria, recommended that joint border patrols be instituted in order to prevent further clashes over illegal immigration. In September Cameroonians celebrated nationwide after their soccer team defeated Spain 7–5 to win the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. It was the nation's first-ever Olympic gold.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2000

Area:
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 15,456,000
Capital:
Yaoundé
Chief of state:
President Paul Biya
Head of government:
Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      Cameroon's economy continued to improve overall in 1999, although reverberations from the Asian financial crisis resulted in a slightly lower-than-expected growth rate of 4.5%. Lower world oil and timber prices were primarily to blame. International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegations visited the country in February and May and gave qualified approval to Cameroon's implementation of structural-adjustment reforms, although stating that much remained to be done in improving basic services, particularly in rural areas. Other loans from France, the IMF, and the African Development Bank also were approved.

      A ban on log exports, imposed on July 1 for conservation purposes, was suspended by a presidential decree in September after protests by French forestry operators. For the first time in several years, no food shortages were reported in the north. This was partly a result of adequate rainfall but also reflected the switch from cotton to food crops by many farmers and tighter border controls to prevent smuggling of staples across borders. Cocoa and coffee growers, once the mainstay of the economy but now producing only 2% of export commodities, demanded the return of government subsidies to enable them to raise the quality of their products. Privatization of the state-owned palm oil corporation neared completion.

      In May Pres. Paul Biya met with Nigeria's outgoing president, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, in Yaoundé. They vowed to seek a peaceful resolution of the border dispute over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. The International Court of Justice continued to take evidence from both sides.

      Mt. Cameroon erupted on March 28—the first time in 17 years—and the evacuation of hundreds of people was required. Fears grew concerning the possibility of a new gas explosion in Lake Nyos, where more than 1,700 people were asphyxiated by carbon dioxide in 1986.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 1999

      Area: 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 15,029,000

      Capital: Yaoundé

      Chief of state: President Paul Biya

      Head of government: Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      Economic prospects brightened in Cameroon in 1998; the inflation rate hovered around 2%, and real economic growth was expected to be 5%. In January, following the dismissal of the airline's managing director and chairman, Cameroon Airline pilots walked out for five days. The underlying cause of the strike, however, was the proposed privatization of the enterprise. In other areas the government sought private investors for several large state industries, among them cotton, sugar, telecommunications, and water. Germany agreed to reschedule $367 million of debt over a 25-year period. As a result of this and other debt-rescheduling agreements, 1998-99 budgetary expenditures were expected to be 2% lower than during the previous year. The World Bank granted Cameroon a $180 million credit on June 25, and in September the International Monetary Fund expressed its satisfaction with the country's progress in the first year of its new three-year structural-adjustment program.

      Progress toward achieving a free press was less evident. In January Pius Njawe, editor of the leading opposition newspaper, Le Messager, was jailed for having printed a story suggesting that Pres. Paul Biya had suffered heart problems during a soccer match held on Dec. 21, 1997. On April 14 the Douala Appeals Court upheld the verdict but reduced Njawe's two-year sentence to 10 months.

      The dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula came no closer to resolution. Four years after Cameroon had filed a complaint with the UN, the International Court of Justice finally opened hearings on the sovereignty over the area on March 2. Three days later Cameroon accused Nigeria of delay tactics. On May 7 Nigeria charged Cameroon with trying to provoke war by moving 2,000 troops to the border and launching a rocket attack on a Nigerian fishing village.

NANCY ELLEN LAWLER

▪ 1998

      Area: 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 14,678,000

      Capital: Yaoundé

      Chief of state: President Paul Biya

      Head of government: Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge

      Cameroon's second multiparty legislative elections, postponed from early March 1997, were held on May 17, two months after the National Assembly was dissolved. The announcement followed weeks of unrest in the English-speaking northwest of the country during which 10 people died. Forty-five parties fielded 1,800 candidates in the elections. Pres. Paul Biya's ruling People's Democratic Movement added to its absolute majority, taking 116 of the 180 seats. The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, led by John Fru Ndi, won 43 seats, while Bello Bouba Maigari's National Union for Democracy and Progress took 13. Eight seats went to four other parties. Despite opposition calls for the results to be annulled amid charges of election rigging, Ndi announced that his party would not boycott the new session of the National Assembly. International observers concluded that the polls were generally conducted fairly. In July the government rejected opposition demands that it relinquish its state monopoly of television and radio. The presidential election took place in October, and Biya won with 92% of the vote.

      In May a deal was signed giving China the right to mine bauxite in Cameroon. After announcing that the economy grew by an estimated 5% in 1996, Biya presented the 1997-98 budget to the Assembly in July. Although a 13% increase in spending over the previous year was projected, he claimed it would achieve a fiscal balance. The opposition denounced the budget as no more than a propaganda device that was designed to impress international donors, but the National Assembly overwhelmingly passed it on July 15.

      Relations with Nigeria remained tense. In May the government denied that its troops had attacked Nigerian forces on the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula. The Cameroonian army was put on full alert on its southern borders in August, responding to reports that Nigeria had reinforced its base near the Equatorial Guinea border.

NANCY ELLEN LAWLER

      This article updates Cameroon, history of.

▪ 1997

      A republic of western central Africa and member of the Commonwealth, Cameroon lies on the Gulf of Guinea. Area: 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 13,609,000. Cap.: Yaoundé. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and (as of Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of CFAF 518.24 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 816.38 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Paul Biya; prime ministers, Simon Achidi Achu and, from September 19, Peter Mafany Musonge.

      Results of the municipal elections held on Jan. 21, 1996, consolidated Pres. Paul Biya's power as the ruling Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) took control of 218 of the 336 communes. John Fru Ndi's Social Democratic Front (SDF) finished second, winning 62 communes. Biya quickly moved to replace elected mayors with government appointees, which triggered widespread protests. In Limbe 5 demonstrators were killed and 15 injured, and security forces were brought in to restore order. On September 19 Biya reshuffled his Cabinet, appointing Peter Mafany Musonge as prime minister.

      A general strike began on May 6. The government banned the press from making any mention of it. The success of the strike was disputed, but it appeared that the protest generally failed in most urban areas. University students went on strike independently, demanding better working conditions and an end to newly imposed fees, and so prompted security forces to invade the student residential quarters in mid-June. At least 200 students were arrested.

      New clashes in the decade-long territorial conflict between Nigeria and Cameroon over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula erupted in early February. Although a truce agreement, brokered by Pres. Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo, was signed on February 17, sporadic fighting continued for much of the year.

      The economy was weak, growing at only half its expected rate. Inflation remained high. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This article updates Cameroon, history of.

▪ 1996

      A republic of western central Africa and member of the Commonwealth, Cameroon lies on the Gulf of Guinea. Area: 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 13,233,000. Cap.: Yaoundé. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and (as of Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of CFAF 501.49 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 792.78 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Paul Biya; prime minister, Simon Achidi Achu.

      Internal disputes continued in 1995 to weaken the two major opposition coalitions in Cameroon, the National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) and the Front of Allies for Change (FAC). In February the UNDP expelled two of its members who had been serving in Pres. Paul Biya's Cabinet. As a result, a new breakaway party, still unnamed, was announced. In late May the Social Democratic Front of John Fru Ndi, part of the FAC, was split after seven members of the executive committee were denied entrance to the SDF's congress in Maroua. One of these, former SDF secretary-general Siga Assanga, then formed the Social Democratic Movement.

      After a meeting with the French ambassador, Ndi announced that the opposition-led boycott of French products would end on May 26, stating that this would give France's new president, Jacques Chirac (see BIOGRAPHIES (Chirac, Jacques Rene )), the opportunity to review policies toward Africa. In July most independent newspapers suspended publication for four days to protest government censorship and intimidation of journalists.

      Attempts continued to clear Lake Nyos, where some 1,700 people died in 1986 from the release of an apparently naturally occurring toxic gas. Cameroon's application to join the Commonwealth was accepted in November.

      The economy was expected to grow by 5% in 1995. In June Biya announced plans to speed up the privatization of public utilities and other state-owned enterprises. Initial steps were taken to create a stock exchange. After having settled its arrears with the World Bank, Cameroon continued to receive assistance from that agency.

      (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Cameroon, history of.

▪ 1995

      A republic of western central Africa, Cameroon lies on the Gulf of Guinea. Area: 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 12,905,000. Cap.: Yaoundé. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (from Jan. 12, 1994) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and (as of Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of CFAF 526.67 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 837.67 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Paul Biya; prime minister, Simon Achidi Achu.

      The long-simmering border dispute over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula boiled over on Jan. 3, 1994, when 500 Nigerian troops temporarily occupied Cameroon's Diamond and Djabane islands. After several months of diplomatic maneuvering, Pres. Paul Biya and Nigerian Pres. Sani Abacha met in Tunis during the June summit of the Organization of African Unity. Final resolution of the issue, however, remained stalled owing to political upheavals in Nigeria.

      Biya felt strong enough to suspend the process of constitutional reform, begun in November 1992, for another year. On April 29 the second All Anglophone Conference was held. Deep divisions over the question of federalism and the composition of the anglophone (English-speaking) delegation to the constitutional conference emerged, thus weakening the support for opposition leader John Fru Ndi and his Social Democratic Front. Further cracks in the opposition emerged when Bello Bouba Maigari, president of the Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP), demanded that his deputy, Hamadou Moustapha, resign from the government following a July 21 Cabinet reshuffle. Moustapha's refusal led to violence. On July 30 eight members of the UNDP died in factional fighting.

      Despite opposition calls to leave the franc zone, Biya accepted the devaluation of the CFA franc, receiving promises of financial aid from France to offset the severe effects upon the economy. Cameroon was struggling with an enormous internal debt of unpaid back salaries for civil servants. Large cuts in current salaries led to a number of strikes during the year. The government sought funds from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Paris Club, promising in return to cut 20,000 civil service jobs and to continue privatization of state-owned enterprises. Journalists continued to be a target of government harassment, and several were arrested for libel and failing to submit articles to the official censors. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Cameroon, history of.

▪ 1994

      A republic of western central Africa, Cameroon lies on the Gulf of Guinea. Area: 475,442 sq km (183,569 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 13,103,000. Cap.: Yaoundé. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a par value of CFAF 50 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 283.25 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 429.12 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1993, Paul Biya; prime minister, Simon Achidi Achu.

       Cameroon Pres. Paul Biya's embattled government outmaneuvered its opponents in June 1993 by convening a Grand National Debate on Constitutional Reform rather than the Sovereign National Conference, as demanded by the Social Democratic Front (SDF) of John Fru Ndi, who refused to attend. In March antigovernment marchers were arrested in three cities, and demonstrations considered to have potential for violence were banned. The opposition was further weakened by the Cameroon Anglophone Movement's continuing insistence on the reestablishment of federalism before it would support the SDF's call to convene the National Conference.

      The economy remained in crisis despite three years of lower budgets, cuts in civil service salaries, and replacement of university grants with fees. Student protests shut down the University of Yaoundé on January 20. Civil servants, unpaid for months, demonstrated in June. Capital investments were virtually frozen, money remained scarce, and export earnings suffered owing to low world prices. The government continued to press its application for membership in the Commonwealth. In an attempt to resolve long-standing border conflicts, a joint Cameroon-Nigeria boundary commission met on August 10. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Cameroon, history of.

* * *

Introduction
officially  Republic of Cameroon,  French  République du Cameroun,  
Cameroon, flag of country lying at the junction of western and central Africa. Triangular in shape, it is bordered by Nigeria to the northwest, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east, Congo (Brazzaville) to the southeast, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. Its ethnically diverse population is among the most urban in western Africa. The capital is Yaoundé.

      The country's name is derived from Rio dos Camarões (River of Prawns)—the name given to the Wouri River estuary by Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Camarões was also used to designate the river's neighbouring mountains. Until the late 19th century, English usage confined the term the Cameroons to the mountains, and the estuary was called the Cameroons River or, locally, the Bay. In 1884 the Germans extended the word Kamerun to their entire protectorate, which largely corresponded to the present state.

The land

Relief
 

       Cameroon can be divided into the southern, western, central, and northern geographic regions. The southern region extends from the Sanaga River to the southern border and from the coast eastward to the Central African Republic and Congo (Brazzaville). It consists of coastal plains that are about 25 miles (40 kilometres) wide and a densely forested plateau with an average elevation of a little more than 2,000 feet (600 metres).

      The western region extends north and west from the Sanaga River and continues north along the Nigerian border as far as the Bénoué (Benue) River. The relief is mostly mountainous, the result of a volcanic rift that extends northward from the island of Bioko (Fernando Po). Near the coast, the active volcanic Mount Cameroon (Cameroon, Mount) rises to the highest elevation in western Africa—13,435 feet (4,095 metres).

      The central region extends east from the western highlands and from the Sanaga River north to the Bénoué River. The land rises progressively to the north and includes the Adamawa (Adamaoua (Adamawa Plateau)) Plateau, with elevations between 2,450 and 4,450 feet.

      North of the Bénoué River, the savanna plain declines in elevation as it approaches the Lake Chad basin. The region contains scattered inselbergs, or mounds of erosion-resistant rock rising above the plains. The Gotel Mountains of the Adamawa trend from south to north, culminating in the Mandara Mountains of the northwest.

Drainage
      The rivers of Cameroon form four large drainage systems. In the south, the Sanaga, Wouri, Nyong, and Ntem rivers drain into the Atlantic Ocean. The Bénoué River and its tributary, the Kébi, flow into the Niger River basin of Nigeria. The Logone and Chari rivers—which form part of the eastern border with Chad—drain into Lake Chad, whereas the Ngoko River joins the Sangha River and flows into the Congo (Zaire) River basin.

Climate
      Lying wholly within the tropics, the country is hot throughout the year; mean annual temperatures range between 70° and 82° F (21° and 28° C), although they are lower in areas of high elevation.

      The incidence of rainfall depends largely on the seasonal movements of two contrasting air masses: a dry continental tropical air mass, which originates over the Sahara, is associated with hot, dusty weather, whereas a warm and humid maritime tropical air mass, originating over the Atlantic, brings rain-bearing winds. Rainfall decreases from south to north. Along the coast, the rainy season lasts from April to November, and the relatively dry season lasts from December to March; a transition period from March to April is marked by violent winds. The mean annual rainfall of more than 100 inches (2,500 millimetres) occurs in about 150 days.

      In the central plateau region, rainfall decreases to 60 inches. There are four seasons—a light rainy season from May to June, a short dry season from July to October, a heavy rainy season from October to November, and a long dry season from December to May. The north, however, has a dry season only from October to May and an average annual rainfall of about 30 inches. The wettest part of the country lies in the western highlands. Debundscha Point on Mount Cameroon has a mean annual rainfall of more than 400 inches—an average attained by only two other locations in the world—most of which falls from May to October.

Plant and animal life
      The hot and humid south supports dense rain forests in which hardwood evergreen trees—including mahogany, ebony, obeche, dibetu, and sapelli—may grow to more than 200 feet. There are large numbers of orchids and ferns.

      Mangroves grow along the coasts and the mouths of rivers. The rain forest gives way to the semi-deciduous forest of the central region, where a number of tree species shed their leaves during the dry season. North of the semi-deciduous forest, the vegetation is composed of wooded savanna with scattered trees 10 to 60 feet high. The density of trees decreases toward the Chad basin, where they are sparse and mainly of Acacia species.

      Between 4,000 and 8,000 feet, the tropical rain forest differs from that of the lowlands; the trees are smaller, are of different species, and are festooned with mosses, lichens, and other epiphytes. Above the forest zone are drier woodland, tall grassland, or patches of mountain bamboo. Above about 7,800 feet in the interior and above about 10,000 feet on Mount Cameroon, short grasses predominate.

      The country's dense forests are inhabited by screaming red and green monkeys, chimpanzees, and mandrills, as well as rodents, bats, and numerous birds—from tiny sunbirds to giant hawks and eagles. A few elephants survive in the forest and in the grassy woodlands, where baboons and several types of antelope are the most common animals. The Waza National Park in the north, which was originally created for the protection of giraffes and antelope, abounds in both forest and savanna animals, including monkeys, baboons, lions, leopards, and birds that range from white and gray pelicans to spotted waders.

Settlement patterns
      In general there is a cultural division between the north and the south. The northern savanna plateau is inhabited by Sudanic and Arab pastoralists who migrate seasonally in search of grazing land, whereas the forested and hilly south is peopled by Bantu agriculturists in permanent villages. The north is predominantly Muslim, whereas the southern peoples adhere to animism and Christianity.

      Population density is greatest in the western highlands, in the southern forest, and along parts of the coast; it is lowest in the southeast interior. Douala is the largest city and the country's main port. Yaoundé is an important transportation and communication centre. Garoua is a port on the Bénoué River. Other towns of importance include Nkongsamba, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Maroua, and Kumba. In most cases, the provincial capitals are the largest towns and have the greatest potential for expansion.

The people
      The country has been described as a “racial crossroads” because of its more than 200 different ethnic groups. There are three main linguistic groups: the Bantu-speaking (Bantu peoples) people of the south, the Sudanic-speaking people of the north, and those who speak the Semi-Bantu languages of the west.

      The Bantu settled in the Cameroons from equatorial Africa. The first group that invaded the country included the Maka, Ndjem, and Duala. They were followed at the beginning of the 19th century by the Fang (Pangwe) and Beti peoples.

      The Sudanic-speaking (Sudanic languages) peoples include the Sao, who live on the Adamawa Plateau; the Fulani; (Fulani) and the Kanuri. The Fulani came from the Niger basin in two waves, in the 11th and 19th centuries; they were Muslims who converted and subjugated the peoples of the Logone valley and the Kébi and Faro river valleys. The third ethnic group consists mainly of small tribes, except for the Bantu-related Bamileke, who live between the lower slopes of the Adamawa Plateau and Mount Cameroon. Other western Semi-Bantu-speaking tribes include the Tikar, who live in the Bamenda region and in the western high plateau.

      The oldest inhabitants of the country are the Pygmies (Pygmy), locally known as the Baguielli and Babinga, who live in the southern forests. They have been hunters and gatherers for thousands of years and live in small hunting bands.

      European missions and colonization led to the introduction of European languages. During the colonial era German was the official language; it was later replaced by English and French, which have retained their official status.

      About one-quarter of the population continue to adhere to traditional religious beliefs. More than two-fifths of the population are Christian, mainly Roman Catholic. Muslims comprise one-fifth of the population.

      Cameroon's population is growing at about the same high rate as sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. The birth and death rates, however, are both somewhat lower than average. Nearly half the population are below age 15, and more than two-fifths, a comparatively high proportion, live in urban areas. Life expectancy, at 51 years, has improved greatly in the late 20th century.

The economy
      Until the late 20th century the economy of Cameroon was basically agricultural; it has since experienced a shift toward a mining economy.

      Cameroon's main problem, in common with the other developing countries of Africa, is the acquisition of capital to finance resource development. When foreign investment capital is scarce, the country depends largely on the sale of its products on the world market. Fluctuations in world prices of raw materials such as cocoa and coffee, however, make the future unpredictable.

      The government sets guidelines in its five-year plans and attracts private capital for the development of certain sectors of the economy. The first two plans (1961–65 and 1966–71) concentrated on expansion of educational facilities, diversification of farm production, and selective industrialization and on rural development and the introduction of rural cooperatives, respectively. Subsequent plans have extended these, relying on increasingly greater proportions of private investment.

      Foreign indebtedness rose along with development spending, though the government was successful in keeping its debt service within reasonable levels. In the late 1980s, however, budget deficits compelled Cameroon to resort to external borrowing and to accept the intervention of the International Monetary Fund's structural readjustment programs.

      There are four different company tax systems, which offer various benefits to developing industries. Most tax revenues are obtained from petroleum royalties, corporation profit levies, property taxes, and import and export duties.

      Worker-employer relations have been peaceful since 1960, which may, in part, result from government appointment of top union officials and the illegality of strikes. Employers' associations include Chambers of Commerce in Douala and Yaoundé and associations for those engaged in industry and the import-export trade. The two main trade unions are the National Union of Private Journalists and the Organization des Syndicats des Travailleurs Cameroonais, both based in Yaoundé.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      The growth of the petroleum industry since 1980 has resulted in a gradual decline in the importance of agriculture, forestry, and fishing to the gross domestic product. About three-fourths of the working population are engaged in this sector, compared with 90 percent in the 1970s. Primary agricultural and forest products provide about one-third of total export earnings, with cocoa and coffee the leading agricultural exports. Small family holdings are responsible for about 80 percent of the agricultural exports, with less than 10 percent coming from commercial plantations. The main subsistence crops include plantain, beans, potatoes, yams, cassava, corn (maize), and oil palm in the south and peanuts (groundnuts), millet, and cassava in the north.

      Cocoa is grown mainly in the south. The country ranks as the world's fifth largest producer. Robusta coffee, which accounts for about 85 percent of the coffee crop, is grown both in the southern warm and humid parts of the country and in the western high plateau, where arabica coffee is also grown. Yields have been adversely affected by the increasing age of the plantations and delay in modernizing.

      Cotton was introduced in 1952; it is grown largely in the grasslands by private farmers. Systematic diversification of agricultural production into such crops as palm oil, rubber, and sugar has taken place.

      Food production has kept pace with population growth, and the country is generally self-sufficient. Domestic consumption of meat is reasonably high. Livestock is exported to Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo (Brazzaville), and hides and skins to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Commercial fishing constitutes about one-third of the total marine catch, while traditional coastal fishing makes up the remainder. The freshwater catch is about one-third the size of the marine catch.

      About one-half of the country is forested, but only about one-third of the available hardwood forest resources are exploited. Forestry is limited to the most accessible areas along the Douala–Yaoundé railway and the main roads.

Industry
      Cameroon is endowed with abundant mineral wealth, but until recently there was no indication of any meaningful exploitation. Large amounts of kyanite (an aluminum silicate) and bauxite are deposited at Minim-Martap and Ngaoundéré on the Adamawa Plateau. Bauxite deposits at Minim-Martap remain unexploited because of weak world demand and the heavy investment involved in both mining and building the necessary transportation infrastructure. Limestone deposited near Garoua is quarried for use in cement plants. There is some gold in East Cameroon, and cassiterite occurs in the Darlé River valley in the northeast. Unexploited resources include iron ore (found at Kribi) and uranium.

      In 1976 oil was found offshore at Rio-del-Ray. Production began in 1977, and since 1980 oil has been the country's most important export. Despite the fall in world oil prices, petroleum remains attractive as the main source of income. Natural gas deposits also have been located but remain unexploited because of the high investment costs.

      The contribution of manufacturing to the economy has grown strongly in the late 20th century. Production is centred on import substitution (e.g., soap, tires, and footwear) and the processing of agricultural commodities (sugar refining, cotton spinning, tobacco and wood-pulp production). The industrial sector consists of one major heavy industrial complex, the Edéa aluminum smelter, which smelts imported bauxite.

      The government is the major participant in the industrial sector, mainly through the Société National d'Investissement, which emphasizes reducing dependence on imported materials and establishing small and medium-sized enterprises. Plants have been set up to produce tires, cement, and fertilizer, to refine petroleum, and to tan hides from locally produced livestock.

      The main source of hydroelectric power is the Sanaga River; the chief installations are at Edéa, on the Sanaga Falls, and at Song-Loulou. The station at Lagdo on the Bénoué River was financed and built with aid from China.

Finance and trade
      Cameroon is linked together with several other countries in western Africa in a monetary union with a common currency, the CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine, or African Financial Community) franc. The CFA franc is convertible into any currency, but France must approve direct investment by citizens within the franc zone in countries outside of it, the issue and sale of foreign stocks and shares in the area, and borrowings from outside the area. France is represented on the board of directors of the Central Bank in Yaoundé; its notes and coins also are legal tender. Cameroon has its own monetary committee, on which France is represented, and a National Credit Council.

      There are a number of foreign commercial banks operated by Cameroonian, French, British, and American interests. In addition to these, there are several development banks. Most insurance companies are French-owned.

      Most trade is carried out with the EEC countries. France is the largest individual trading partner; it supplies more than one-third of Cameroon's imports and takes almost one-fourth of its exports. Trade outside the Common Market is primarily with the United States and Japan. Trade with other African and Arab countries has increased considerably.

      Major exports include crude oil, cocoa, coffee, cotton, and timber. Others include oil-palm products, tea, rubber, peanuts, bananas, and fresh vegetables, as well as factory products such as aluminum, textiles, plastics, beverages, and confectionery. Major imports are machinery and transportation equipment and spare parts, fertilizers, pesticides, electronics, clothing, and textiles.

Transportation
      The difficult terrain and heavy rainfall in the south have been contributory factors to the absence of an adequate transportation network. The north has traditionally been isolated from the south. Transportation is more developed in some regions than in others; the best roads are in the coastal region, whereas the roads in eastern Cameroon and on the western high plateau are few and are often in bad condition.

      A major project was the completion of the first all-weather highway from Yaoundé to the commercial centre at Douala and between Yaoundé and the western high plateau. Another road-building program was completed in the Bertoua region in the southeast in 1986. The World Bank has provided financial support for programs of road maintenance.

      The rail system nearly doubled in track length between 1965 and 1985, with the extension of the main line from Yaoundé to Ngaoundéré in the first and second phases of the Trans-Cameroon Railway and the extension of the short branch of the western line to Kumba. The rail line from Douala to Yaoundé was shortened and realigned in a modernization program.

      The main port is Douala, on the estuary of the Wouri River, which accounts for 95 percent of Cameroonian port traffic. One of the best-equipped ports in western Africa, it has docks for cargo ships, including a wood-loading dock and a tanker dock with adjacent facilities for the unloading and storage of minerals. The first phase of a major port extension scheme (to increase annual capacity to seven million tons) was completed in 1980, and work began in 1983 on a rehabilitation scheme that included construction of container facilities.

      Douala handles most of the goods that are traded by Chad and the Central African Republic; the river networks leading to it serve as the main arteries of transit to these countries. The minor ports include Kribi at the mouth of the Kienké River, which is used primarily for the shipment of logs and cocoa from the interior; the ocean port of Limbe in western Cameroon, which handles only a modest amount of traffic; and Tiko, on a creek leading to the Wouri estuary, which handles bananas, wood, and rubber. In the north, the river port of Garoua, on the banks of the Bénoué, transports goods to Nigeria; the upper Bénoué, however, is navigable only from 7 to 10 weeks each year.

      Douala is the main international airport, and Yaoundé and Garoua also handle international flights. There are domestic airports at Tiko, Ngaoundéré, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Maroua, Ebolowa, Bertona, and Batouri, as well as numerous airfields. Cameroon Airlines, which is jointly owned by the government and by Air France, provides domestic service and routes to European and African cities.

Administration and social conditions

Government
      By the constitution of 1961, the states of West Cameroon and East Cameroon were linked together into a federation. The constitution of 1972, subsequently revised, replaced the federation with a centralized government, the United Republic of Cameroon; in 1984 the name of the country was changed to the Republic of Cameroon.

      Executive powers are conferred on the president. He serves as the chief of state, appoints a cabinet and a prime minister, and is elected for a period of seven years by direct and universal suffrage. Legislative power is held by a unicameral National Assembly, which has 180 members who are directly elected for five-year terms. Although 1996 constitutional revisions provided for a bicameral legislature with the addition of an upper legislative assembly, these revisions have not been implemented.

      The republic is divided into 10 provinces, each administered by a governor. Each province is further divided into départements, arrondissements, and districts.

      According to the constitution, the president is responsible for guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary. The Supreme Council of the Magistrature advises the president on the nomination of magistrates and judges and acts as a disciplinary body. The court system is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice and includes the Supreme Court, courts of appeal in each province, and courts of first instance. There is also a High Court of Justice, which passes judgment on the president in the case of high treason and on other government ministers in the event of a plot against the government.

      Cameroon was a de facto one-party state from 1966 and was dominated by the Cameroon National Union, a merger of six political parties; it was renamed the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement in 1985. After much political unrest and many violent clashes, a constitutional amendment in 1990 established a multiparty system; main opposition groups included the Social Democratic Front, the National Union for Democracy and Progress, and the Cameroon Democratic Union.

Education
      Educational services have expanded. About three-fourths of all children of primary-school age are enrolled either in government or in Christian mission schools. This attendance rate is not constant throughout the country, however, because the availability of school facilities varies regionally; virtually all children in the south may attend school, but adequate facilities exist for only about two-fifths of the children in the north.

      There are general-education secondary schools, vocational schools, and teacher-training schools. Manual labour is compulsory in secondary and technical schools as a means of encouraging graduates to take up farming instead of seeking white-collar jobs in the cities. The University of Yaoundé was established in 1962 and in the early 1980s added four regional campuses.

Health and welfare
      Malaria is prevalent everywhere except in the mountainous regions, where respiratory and pulmonary diseases and dysentery are common. There are incidences of leprosy and schistosomiasis, as well as syphilis, sleeping sickness, and rheumatism. The infant mortality rate, at about 100 per 1,000 live births, remains high by world standards but is nonetheless comparatively low for western Africa.

      The government emphasized the improvement of the nation's health facilities in the first and second five-year development plans and increased the number of hospitals, dispensaries, and elementary health centres about sevenfold. Hospitals in major cities were modernized, and in the late 1980s the country had one of the lowest population to hospital bed ratios in western Africa. A Health Sciences University Centre was established at the university in 1969 to train physicians and other medical personnel.

      There is no government system of social security covering the whole population. Most assistance is obtained through the traditional kinship system. The National Social Insurance Fund, financed by employee and employer contributions, provides limited pension benefits for wage employees. There are, however, indemnities for occupational diseases or accidents, and the Public Health Service provides free services to the poor.

Cultural life
      Each major ethnic group of the country has developed its own culture. The vigorous rhythms played on the drums by the people of the southern forest region contrast with the flute music of northern Cameroonians. In the Adamawa area, the Muslim Fulani produce elaborately worked leather goods and ornate calabashes (gourds used as containers), and the Kirdi and the Matakam of the western mountains produce distinctive types of pottery. The powerful masks of the Bali, which represent elephants' heads, are used in ceremonies for the dead, and the statuettes of the Bamileke are carved in human and animal figures. The Tikar people are famous for beautifully decorated brass pipes, the Ngoutou people for two-faced masks, and the Bamum for smiling masks.

      L'Institut Français d'Afrique Noire (French Institute of Black Africa) maintains a library in Douala that specializes in the sociology, ethnology, and history of Africa. Of the several museums, the Diamare and Maroua Museum has anthropological collections relating to the Sudanese peoples, and the Cameroon Museum of Douala exhibits objects of prehistory and natural history.

      Cultural organizations include the Cameroun Cultural Association, the Cameroun Cultural Society, and the Federal Linguistic and Cultural Centre. There are also numerous women's associations, youth organizations, and sporting associations.

George Benneh

Additional Reading
Descriptions of the physical and cultural environment are given in Aaron S. Neba, Modern Geography of the Republic of Cameroon, 2nd ed. (1987); and J.A. Ngwa, A New Geography of Cameroon, new ed. (1978). Michael G. Schatzberg and I. William Zartman (eds.), The Political Economy of Cameroon (1986), is a collection of essays. Mark W. DeLancey and Peter J. Schraeder (comps.), Cameroon (1986), is an annotated bibliography of recent publications on history, politics, and economics.George Benneh Ed.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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