Cameroon country profileBy | Tuesday, December 1 2009 at 16:19
It was formed by the 1961 merger of French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon
Gained independence on January 1, 1960 from French-administered UN trusteeship. Before the trusteeship it was a German colony
Form of Government
Chief of State is the President
Head of Government is the Prime Minister
President is elected every seven years through popular referendum (eligible for a second term)
Prime minister is appointed by the President
President, Prime Minister, Cabinet. Cabinet appointed by the president from proposals submitted by the prime minister
Manpower fit for service: Males age 16-49: 2,645,801 and Females age 16-48: 2,574,948
Military expenditure : 1.3 % of GDP
Branches : Cameroon Armed Forces, Army, Navy, Air Force
1960 - 1982 Ahmadou Babatoura Ahidjo
1982 – Present Paul Biya
Population: 1.3 million
Altitude: 731 metres
Size : 19,406,100 (2010)
Life Expectancy: Women 50.8 years and Men 50 years
Gender distribution: Male, 50.17% and Female, 49.83%
GDP per capita
$ 2,300 (2011)
$ 2,300 (2010)
Size: 475,440 sq km
Boundaries: 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
24 major African language groups, French (official), English (official)
Indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
Fang 19.6%, Bamileke and Bamum 18.5%, Duala, Luanda and Basa 14.7%, Fulani 9.6%, Tikar 7.4%, Mandara 5.7%, Maka 4.9%, Chamba 2.4%, Mbum 1.3%, Hausa 1.2%, other 14.7%
Petroleum, Bauxite, Iron ore, Timber, Hydropower
Crude oil and petroleum products, Timber, Cocoa, Aluminium, Coffee, Cotton
Arable land: 12.54%
Permanent crops: 2.52%
CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc
Internet Country code
Main Airport: Douala International (IATA: DLA, ICAO: FKKD
Main Port: Port of Doula
The devaluation of the CFA franc pushed rural populations to clear additional forest for subsistence crop production while encouraging logging. Lacking an effective forest conservation programme, Cameroon has found this highly damaging to the rainforest environment.
Besides logging, deforestation results from fuelwood collection and subsistence farming. Overall, Cameroon lost 13.4 per cent of its forest cover or 3.3 million hectares between 1990 and 2005 and deforestation rates have gone up by 10 percent since the end of the 1990s. The United Nations does not classify any of Cameroon's forest cover as untouched primary forest.
Petroleum is a key export for Cameroon. To date, oil production has had a limited impact on the country's environment. In 2003 a $3.7-billion pipeline running through Cameroon from oil fields in Chad was completed. Its construction resulted in forest clearing and raised environmental concerns.
Cameroon has the second-largest hydroelectric power potential in Africa after the Congo. There is increasing concern among environmental groups that the country will start to build dams to meet growing energy needs—the country is not energy self-sufficient as of 2006. One currently planned project is the Lom river dam. To pay for the project, the government will borrow $120 million from the World Bank.
In 1986 Cameroon made news when poisonous gases escaped from Lake Nyos, killing nearly 2,000 people.
Mr. Biya was re-elected for the sixth time in 2011 with 77.98% of the vote. The elections were however marked by apathy and irregularities - Mr Biya won multi-party polls in 1992 and 1997. The latter were boycotted by the three main opposition parties. Mr Biya is now one of Africa's longest-serving Heads of State.
Cameroon once had one of the strongest economies of sub-Sahara Africa, but in the late 1990s, the declining price of commodities including oil, coffee, and cocoa pulled back economic growth.
Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnating per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise
In 2011, the country welcomed the news of the discovery of about two billion tonnes of iron ore deposits in the country's south, but what how much this will benefit the county is debatable
After suffering from crippling power deficits, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation made an agreement to finance and guarantee a power project at an estimated cost of $168m, which when completed would provide electricity to over 160,000 Cameroonian homes
Though the economy has recovered, social indicators have been slow in climbing up, and 40 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. According to the UNDP in Cameroon, 85 percent of those living in poverty are in rural areas. Women are particularly affected by poverty and have more nutritional problems, a heavier workload, a lack of education and limited access to health services
Cameroon has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. In the late 1980’s, Cameroon nearly attained universal primary education, with a gross enrolment rate of 95.6 percent. Rates have dropped considerably since that time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 19 doctors for every 100,000 people in Cameroon. Although low, this number is higher than in most West African countries.
UNAIDS estimates there are 510,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, a 5.4 per cent prevalence rate.
The government maintains a tight leash on the broadcast media. Several private radio stations have come up following a liberalisation of telecommunications in 2000.
Cameroon has tough libel legislation in place. In 2006 the media rights body Reporters Without Borders noted that: "Draconian laws regularly put journalists behind bars."
Although the constitution provides for equal rights for men and women, the status of women remains below that of men. By law, men can oppose their wife’s right to work in the interest of the household and can end his wife’s employment. The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) reported in 2006 that Cameroon had made progress in drafting a family code that will protect women’s rights but that the process had stalled due to changes in government
Conflicts in surrounding countries have caused a surge of refugees into Cameroon and could potentially force more into the country.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Cameroon is expected to host approximately 48,500 refugees and 6,000 asylum-seekers in 2007
Cameroon is also cited as a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation; most victims are children trafficked within country and the country is on the Tier 2 Watch List.
Foreign Policy Issues
An island at the Mouth of the Ntem River; seen to possess rich oil offshore reserves has caused a dispute between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The resolution is currently under consideration by the International Court of Justice
Oil conflict with Nigeria
When: 1994, 1996
Who: Cameroon VS Nigeria
Why: Oil. The two neighbours each claimed ownership of the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula.
Outcome: Nigeria withdrew its troops from the area in 2006 in line with an International Court of Justice ruling which awarded sovereignty of the area to Cameroon.
New twist: In November 2007 the Nigerian senate passed a motion declaring as illegal the Nigeria-Cameroon agreement for the Bakassi Peninsula to be handed over to Cameroon.
What to See
National Museum of Yaounde: Cultural and ecological treasures are housed in this building centred in the capital city.
Benedictine Museum of Mont-Febe: Abbias, intricate carvings on a dried fruit shell, are the pride of this small but fascinating museum. Built in 1967, it has a great Musee d’Art Cameroonais, which has displays of masks, bowls and Bamoun bronze pipes
Mt Cameroon: At 4095m, it provides a fascinating background to the capital city, and expeditions up the mountain are easily organised.
Foumban is a popular destination on the tourist map and an important centre of African art.
Parc National du Waza is reputed to be one of Africa’s better-known wildlife getaways, and is famous for its elephants.
Soccer commands the highest following
Volleyball is also popular in Cameroon, with the national team a regular performer on the continental scene
Tug of war
Roger Milla is arguably the country’s best known sportsperson, following his legendary exploits in the 1990 World Cup where he led Cameroon to a quarterfinal place only to lose out to England.
Samuel E’too: Footballer with Italy’s Inter Milan club
Lauren Etame Meyer: Footballer
Rigobert Song: Footballer
Alex Song: Footballer for English Premier League team Arsenal
Patrick Mboma: Footballer
The death of Marc Vivien-Foe in 2003 also made world headlines
The country is fondly referred to as “Africa in Miniature.” This is because it is the home to more than 200 different groups of people divided by linguistics and ethnicity. The climate and the geographical location of the country is also a mirror of the typical climate you would find in any place across the continent of Africa.
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