|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.
Government type: unitary republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)
note: preponderance of power remains with the president
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes
Geography of Cameroon
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial
Guinea and Nigeria
People of Cameroon
Cameroon's estimated 250 ethnic groups form five large regional-cultural groups: western highlanders (or grassfielders), including the Bamileke, Bamoun, and many smaller entities in the Northwest (est. 38% of population); coastal tropical forest peoples, including the Bassa, Douala, and many smaller entities in the Southwest (12%); southern tropical forest peoples, including the Beti, Bulu (subgroup of Beti), Fang (subgroup of Beti), and Pygmies (officially called Bakas) (18%); predominantly Islamic peoples of the northern semi-arid regions (the Sahel) and central highlands, including the Fulani, also known as Peuhl in French (14%); and the "Kirdi", non-Islamic or recently Islamic peoples of the northern desert and central highlands (18%).
The people concentrated in the southwest and northwest provinces--around Buea and Bamenda--use standard English and "pidgin," as well as their local languages. In the three northern provinces--Adamaoua, Garoua, and Maroua--either French or Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani, is widely spoken. Elsewhere, French is the principal second language, although pidgin and some local languages such as Ewondo, the dialect of a Beti clan from the Yaounde area, also are widely spoken.
Although Yaounde is Cameroon's capital, Douala is the largest city, main seaport, and main industrial and commercial center.
The western highlands are the most fertile in Cameroon and have a relatively healthy environment in higher altitudes. This region is densely populated and has intensive agriculture, commerce, cohesive communities, and historical emigration pressures. From here, Bantu migrations into eastern, southern, and central Africa are believed to have originated about 2,000 years ago. Bamileke people from this area have in recent years migrated to towns elsewhere in Cameroon, such as the coastal provinces, where they form much of the business community. About 14,000 non-Africans, including more than 6,000 French and 1,000 U. S. citizens, reside in Cameroon.
Population: 16,380,005 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook,U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Cameroon > Map Economy History