OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Cameroon
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 457,439 Sq Km (183,568 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 15,863,900
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Cameroon is located in Central West
Africa. It is bound by Equatorial Guinea to the southwest,
Gabon to the south, Congo to the southeast, the Central
African Republic to the east, Chad to the northeast, Nigeria
to the northwest and the Gulf of Guinea to the west. The
country can be divided into four topographical zones. (1.)
A low coastal plain in the south which has equatorial rain
forests and swamp lands along its edges. (2.) A savannah
covered plateau in its center which is known as Adamaoua
Plateau. (3.) A mountainous area in the west which is covered
in forests and has an active volcano called Mount Cameroon.
(4.) A rolling sub arid savannah in the north. The northern
zone is drained by the Logone and Chari Rivers which flow
into the Lake Chad Basin. The other principal rivers are
the Wouri, Sanaga, Dibamba and Nyong all of which flow into
the Gulf of Guinea. Major Cities (pop. est.); Douala 810,000,
Yaounde 649,000, Garoua 142,000, Maroua 123,000 (1987).
Land Use; forested 77%, pastures 4%, agricultural-cultivated
15%, other 4% (1993).
CLIMATE: Cameroon has a tropical climate which varies from equatorial
in the south to sahelian in the north. The sahelian climate in the north
has a wet season between April and September while the rest of the year
is dry. Average annual precipitation for this region is between 1,000 and
1,750 mm (39 to 69 inches). The equatorial south has two wet seasons and
two dry seasons with one wet season between March and June and the great
wet season between August and November while one dry season is between
June and August and the great dry season is between November to March.
Average temperature ranges in Yaounde are from 18 to 29 degrees Celsius
(64 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) with an average annual precipitation of 4,030
mm (159 inches).
PEOPLE: Cameroon's ethnic composition is diverse with approximately
200 ethnic groups. The principal ethnic groups consist of the Cameroon
Highlanders who account for 31% of the population, the Equatorial Bantu
for 19%, the Kirdi for 11%, the Fulani for 10%, the Northwestern Bantu
for 8% and the Nigritic for 7%. Ethnic aliens include African tribal groups
such as the Hausa, Ibo, Ewe, and Europeans which include French, German,
American, British, Canadian, Greeks, Syrians, Cypriots and Lebanese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 26 persons per sq km (68
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 42.4% urban, 57.6% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.9% male, 50.1% female (1991). Life Expectancy at Birth;
51.0 years male, 54.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 46% under 15,
24% 15 to 29, 15% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 6% 60 and over (1990). Birth Rate;
47.5 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 14.9 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate;
32.6 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 94.0 per 1,000 live births
RELIGIONS: Around 25% of the population follow local native tribal
beliefs while Christians account for 53% and 22% are Muslims.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are French and English with
French being the dominant. However, some 80 major African languages are
spoken by the diverse ethnic tribal groups.
EDUCATION: Aged 15 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
51.1%, primary 41.7%, secondary 5.9%, higher 0.5% (1976). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 54.1% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: On Jan. 1, 1960 French Cameroon
became the independent Republic of Cameroon with a presidential system
of government and on June 1, 1961 British Cameroon was divided into the
North and South. The northern part of British Cameroon joined with Nigeria,
while the southern part joined the independent Republic of Cameroon and
from then until 1972 Cameroon operated as a federation of two states East
and West Cameroon. In May 1972 Cameroon adopted a new constitution that
eliminated the two separate states and Cameroon was declared the United
Republic of Cameroon. In 1982 Ahmadou Ahidjo resigned after 22 years as
President and was replaced by Paul Biya. In 1983 Ahidjo fled to France
after leading an unsuccessful coup attempt against Biya due to the fact
that Ahidjo was a Muslim from the north and Biya a Christian from the south.
In 1984 the Biya government crushed a coup attempt by Muslim officers from
the north which resulted in the execution of around fifty officers. Later
the head of state gained control over the military by delegating the Defense
Ministry to his office. In 1986 some political prisoners were released
and in 1987 Biya carried out economic reforms which included the reform
of the public sector. In 1990 there were numerous demonstrations as well
as strikes by lawyers, teachers and students in protest for democratic
reforms. The protests resulted in the deaths of six marchers which forced
Biya to endorse multi-partyism. In July 1990 a national conference called
for the legalization of opposition parties, human rights legislation and
freedom of the press. By the close of 1990 nearly all political prisoners
were released. In 1991 some 25 opposition parties were legalized, although
Pres. Biya refused to allow a national conference or new elections. In
May 1991 after mass civil disobedience the military took control of seven
provinces. In Sept. 1991 Pres. Biya suspended all political parties and
closed five newspapers which resulted in a coalition of opposition leaders
embarking on an international mission to convince the US, Canada and EU
to withdraw support for the governing regime. Also during 1991 there were
continued border clashes with Nigeria over a long-standing dispute. On
Mar. 1, 1992 the RDPC won the first multiparty elections in 32 years while
Pres. Biya was narrowly reelected in presidential elections held on Oct.
11, 1992, with his nearest rival John Fru Ndi being placed under house
arrest immediately after the elections. Following the elections there were
accusations of fraud and some violent demonstrations while the US suspended
$14 million of aid. On Nov. 27, 1992 Pres. Biya reshuffled the cabinet
and reappointed Simon Achidi Achu, who had become the country's first Anglophone
prime minister in April 1992. In Mar. 1993 antigovernment protesters were
arrested in three cities while demonstrations considered potentially violent
were banned by the government. In June 1993, unpaid civil servants demonstrated
while in the same month Pres. Biya government outmaneuvered their political
opponents by convening a Grand National Debate on Constitutional Reform
rather than opposition demands from John Fru Ndi's SDF for a Sovereign
National Conference. On Aug. 10, 1993 a joint Cameroon-Nigeria border commission
met in an attempt to resolve long-standing border conflicts. Also during
1993 the economic condition remained in crisis despite government curtailed
budgets and civil service salary cuts.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the CFA Franc (Communiate
Financiere Africaine-CFAF) divided into 100 Centimes.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $9,663,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $5,683,000,000 (1993). Imports; CFAF 650,610,000,000 (1991).
Exports; CFAF 788,300,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $47,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; CFAF 249,700,000,000 (1993). Economically Active
Population; 4,740,000 or 40.0% of total population (1991). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are France,
the USA, Germany, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands and the former USSR.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bauxite, Cassava, Cocoa, Coffee, Cotton,
Ground Nuts, Gold, Iron Ore, Livestock, Maize, Millet, Oil and Natural
Gas, Palm Oil, Plantains, Rubber, Sorghum, Sweet Potatoes, Timber, Tin,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Aluminum Smelting, Beverages, Food
Processing, Forestry, Mining, Shoes, Textiles, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Aluminum, Cocoa, Coffee, Cotton, Petroleum, Rubber,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 1,104 km (686 mi) (1988),
passenger-km 469,600,000 (291,796,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km
595,500,000 (407,858,000 short ton-mi) (1988). Roads; length 52,214 km
(32,444 mi) (1987). Vehicles; cars 78,272 (1987), trucks and buses 43,868
(1987). Merchant Marine; vessels 43 (1990), deadweight tonnage 38,602 (1990).
Air Transport; passenger-km 580,000,000 (360,000,000 passenger-mi) (1985),
cargo ton-km 111,000,000 (76,000,000 short ton-mi) (1985).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 2 with a circulation
of 35,000 (1994. Radio; receivers 1,500,000 (1994). Television; receivers
15,000 (1994). Telephones; units 57,200 (1993).
MILITARY: 14,600 (1995) total active duty personnel with 89.0%
army, 8.9% navy and 2.1% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 2.1% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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