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Republic of Cameroon
République du Cameroun
Flag Coat of Arms
Motto: Paix – Travail – Patrie
Anthem: Ô Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancêtres  (French)
O Cameroon, Cradle of our Forefathers 1
Location of Cameroon within the African Union.
Location of  Cameroon  (dark green)

– in Africa  (blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union  (blue)  –  [Legend]

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Largest city Douala[1]
Official languages French
Demonym Cameroonian
Government Republic
 •  President Paul Biya[1]
 •  Prime Minister Philémon Yang
Independence from France
 •  Declared 1 January 1960 
 •  Annexation of former British Cameroon 1 October 1961 
 •  Total 475,442 km2 (54th)
183,568 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 1.3
 •  July 2009 estimate 19,100,000 (58th)
 •  2003 census 15,746,179
 •  Density 39.7/km2 (167th)
102,8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 •  Total $46.429 billion[2]
 •  Per capita $2,218[2] (144th)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 •  Total $25.042 billion[2]
 •  Per capita $1,196[2]
Gini (2001)44.6[3]
Error: Invalid Gini value
HDI (2011)Increase 0.482[4]
Error: Invalid HDI value · 150th
Currency Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Time zone WAT (UTC+1)
 •  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+1)
Drives on the right
Calling code 237
Internet TLD .cm
1. These are the titles as given in the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Article X. The French version of the song is sometimes called "Chant de Ralliement", as in National Anthems of the World, and the English version "O Cameroon, Cradle of Our Forefathers", as in DeLancey and DeLancey 61.

The Republic of Cameroon is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. It borders Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is called "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. English and French are the official languages.

Early inhabitants of the territory included the Sao civilisation around Lake Chad and the Baka hunter-gatherers in the southeastern rainforest. Portuguese explorers reached the coast in the 15th century and named the area Rio dos Camarões ("River of Prawns"), the name from which Cameroon derives. Fulani soldiers founded the Adamawa Emirate in the north in the 19th century, and various ethnic groups of the west and northwest established powerful chiefdoms and fondoms. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884. After World War I, the territory was divided between France and Britain as League of Nations mandates. The Union des Populations du Cameroun political party advocated independence but was outlawed in the 1950s. It waged war on French and Cameroonian forces until 1971. In 1960, French Cameroun became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons merged with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.

Compared with other African countries, Cameroon enjoys political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Biya, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party, and corruption is widespread. The Anglophone community has grown increasingly alienated from the government, and Anglophone politicians have called for greater decentralisation and even the secession of the former British-governed territories.


The territory of present day Cameroon was first settled during the Neolithic. The longest continuous inhabitants are the Pygmy groups such as the Baka.[5] The Sao culture arose around Lake Chad c. AD 500 and gave way to the Kanem and its successor state, the Bornu empire. Kingdoms, fondoms, and chiefdoms arose in the west.

Portuguese sailors reached the coast in 1472. They noted an abundance of prawns and crayfish in the Wouri River and named it Rio dos Camarões, Portuguese for "River of Prawns", and the phrase from which Cameroon is derived. Over the following few centuries, European interests regularised trade with the coastal peoples, and Christian missionaries pushed inland. In the early 19th century, Modibo Adama led Fulani soldiers on a jihad in the north against non-Muslim and partially Muslim peoples and established the Adamawa Emirate. Settled peoples who fled the Fulani caused a major redistribution of population.[6]

The German Empire claimed the territory as the colony of Kamerun in 1884 and began a steady push inland. They initiated projects to improve the colony's infrastructure, relying on a harsh system of forced labour.[7] With the defeat of Germany in World War I, Kamerun became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Cameroun and British Cameroons in 1919. The French carefully integrated the economy of Cameroun with that of France[8] and improved the infrastructure with capital investments, skilled workers, and continued forced labour.[7] The British administered their territory from neighbouring Nigeria. Natives complained that this made them a neglected "colony of a colony". Nigerian migrant workers flocked to Southern Cameroons, ending forced labour but angering indigenous peoples.[9] The League of Nations mandates were converted into United Nations Trusteeships in 1946, and the question of independence became a pressing issue in French Cameroun.[8] France outlawed the most radical political party, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), on 13 July 1955. This prompted a long guerrilla war and the assassination of the party's leader, Ruben Um Nyobé.[10] In British Cameroons, the question was whether to reunify with French Cameroun or join Nigeria.

On January 1, 1960, French Cameroun gained independence from France under President Ahmadou Ahidjo, and on 1 October 1961, the formerly-British Southern Cameroons united with its neighbour to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. Ahidjo used the ongoing war with the UPC and fears of ethnic conflict to concentrate power in the presidency, continuing with this even after the suppression of the UPC in 1971.[10] His political party, the Cameroon National Union (CNU), became the sole legal political party on 1 September 1966 and in 1972, the federal system of government was abolished in favour of a United Republic of Cameroon, headed from Yaoundé.[11] Ahidjo pursued an economic policy of planned liberalism, prioritising cash crops and petroleum exploitation. The government used oil money to create a national cash reserve, pay farmers, and finance major development projects; however, many initiatives failed when Ahidjo appointed unqualified allies to direct them.[12]

Ahidjo stepped down on November 4, 1982 and left power to his constitutional successor, Paul Biya. However, Ahidjo remained in control of the CNU and tried to run the country from behind the scenes until Biya and his allies pressured him into resigning. Biya began his administration by moving toward a more democratic government, but a failed coup d'état nudged him toward the leadership style of his predecessor.[13] An economic crisis took effect in the mid-1980s to late 1990s as a result of international economic conditions, drought, falling petroleum prices, and years of corruption, mismanagement, and cronyism. Cameroon turned to foreign aid, cut government spending, and privatised industries. With the reintroduction of multi-party politics in December 1990, Anglophone pressure groups called for greater autonomy, with some advocating complete secession as the Republic of Ambazonia.[14] In February 2008, Cameroon experienced its worse violence in 15 years when a transport union strike in Douala escalated into violent protests in 31 municipal areas.[15][16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Cameroon". Infoplease. Retrieved 27 May 2011.  Unknown parameter |publisheer= ignored (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Cameroon". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  3. "Distribution of family income – Gini index". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  4. http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Table1.pdf
  5. DeLancey and DeLancey 2.
  6. Fanso 84.
  7. 7.0 7.1 DeLancey and DeLancey 125.
  8. 8.0 8.1 DeLancey and DeLancey 5.
  9. DeLancey and DeLancey 4.
  10. 10.0 10.1 DeLancey and DeLancey 6.
  11. DeLancey and DeLancey 19.
  12. DeLancey and DeLancey 7.
  13. DeLancey and DeLancey 8.
  14. DeLancey and DeLancey 9.
  15. Nkemngu.
  16. Matthews.
Part of this article consists of modified text from Metapedia, page http:en.metapedia.org/wiki/Cameroon and/or Wikipedia, page http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameroon, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.