About Cameroon [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Cameroon; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria

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

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Fako 4,095 m (on Mt. Cameroon)

Geo Notes

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

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Republic of Cameroon
conventional short form: Cameroon
local long form: Republique du Cameroun/Republic of Cameroon
local short form: Cameroun/Cameroon
former: French Cameroon, British Cameroon, Federal Republic of Cameroon, United Republic of Cameroon

Capital City

name: Yaounde
geographic coordinates: 3 52 N, 11 31 E
time difference: UTC+1

Administrative Divisions

10 regions (regions, singular - region); Adamaoua, Centre, Est, Extreme-Nord, Littoral, Nord, North-West (Nord-Ouest), Ouest, Sud, South-West (Sud-Ouest)

Natuaral Hazards

Volcanic activity with periodic releases of poisonous gases from Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun volcanoes
volcanism: Mt. Cameroon (elev. 4,095 m, 13,435 ft), which last erupted in 2000, is the most frequently active volcano in West Africa; lakes in Oku volcanic field have released fatal levels of gas on occasion, killing some 1,700 people in 1986

Environmental Issues

Waterborne diseases are prevalent; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; poaching; overfishing

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Life Expectancy

total population: 54.04 years
male: 53.21 years
female: 54.9 years (2010 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 (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)

Religions Practiced

Indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%

Legal System

Based on French civil law system with common law influence; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National Holiday

Republic Day (National Day), 20 May (1972)

Telephone System

general assessment: system includes cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter; Camtel, the monopoly provider of fixed-line service, provides connections for only about 1 per 100 persons; equipment is old and outdated, and connections with many parts of the country are unreliable
domestic: mobile-cellular usage, in part a reflection of the poor condition and general inadequacy of the fixed-line network, has increased sharply, reaching a subscribership base of 40 per 100 persons
international: country code - 237; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast Media

Government maintains tight control over broadcast media; state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), broadcasting on both a television and radio network, was the only officially recognized and fully licensed broadcaster until August 2007 when the government finally issued licenses to 2 private TV broadcasters and 1 private radio broadcaster; about 70 privately-owned unlicensed radio stations operating but are subject to closure at any time; foreign news services required to partner with state-owned national station (2007)

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 slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of President Paul BIYA.

Economy Overview

Because of its modest 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 stagnating per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. International oil and cocoa prices have a significant impact on the economy. 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. The IMF is pressing for more reforms, including increased budget transparency, privatization, and poverty reduction programs.

People Trafficking

current situation: Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; most victims are children trafficked within country, with girls primarily trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation; both boys and girls are also trafficked within Cameroon for forced labor in sweatshops, bars, restaurants, and on tea and cocoa plantations; children are trafficked into Cameroon from neighboring states for forced labor in agriculture, fishing, street vending, and spare-parts shops; Cameroon is a transit country for children trafficked between Gabon and Nigeria, and from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia; it is a source country for women transported by sex-trafficking rings to Europe
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Cameroon is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking in 2007, particularly in terms of efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; while Cameroon reported some arrests of traffickers, none of them were prosecuted or punished; the government does not identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations nor does it monitor the number of victims it intercepts (2008)

National Anthem

name: "O Cameroun, Berceau de nos Ancetres" (O Cameroon, Cradle of Our Forefathers)
lyrics/music: Rene Djam AFAME, Samuel Minkio BAMBA, Moise Nyatte NKO"O [French], Benard Nsokika FONLON [English]/Rene Djam AFAME
note: adopted 1957; Cameroon's anthem, also known as "Chant de Ralliement" (The Rallying Song), has been used unofficially since 1948 although officially adopted in 1957; the anthem has French and English versions whose lyrics differ

Cameroon location map
Size

total: 475,440 sq km
land: 472,710 sq km
water: 2,730 sq km

Cameroon flag
Population

19,294,149 (July 2010 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%

HIV/AIDS Rate

5.1% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

1 January 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship)

Government Type

Republic; multiparty presidential regime

Voting Rights

20 years of age; universal

Internet Users

725,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

90 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.cm

Refugees & IDPs

refugees (country of origin): 20,000-30,000 (Chad); 3,000 (Nigeria); 24,000 (Central African Republic) (2007)

Number Airports

34 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 11
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)

Railways

total: 987 km
narrow gauge: 987 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)

Roadways

total: 50,000 km
paved: 5,000 km
unpaved: 45,000 km (2004)

Inland Waterways

Navigation mainly on Benue River; limited during rainy season (2008)

Ports & Terminals

Douala, Limboh Terminal

National Budget

revenues: $4.048 billion
expenditures: $4.128 billion (2009 est.)

Account Balance

-$1.137 billion (2009 est.)
-$449.7 million (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
note: since 1 January 1999, the Central African CFA franc (XAF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; Central African CFA franc (XAF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using West African CFA francs (XOF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par

Inflation Rate

3% (2009 est.)
5.3% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Petroleum production and refining, aluminum production, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber, ship repair

Agricultural Products

Coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, root starches; livestock; timber

Labor Force

7.66 million (2009 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 70%
industry: 13%
services: 17% (2001 est.)

Unemployment Rate

30% (2001 est.)

GDP (USD Parity)

$42.79 billion (2009 est.)
$42.41 billion (2008 est.)
$40.82 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$2,300 (2009 est.)
$2,300 (2008 est.)
$2,300 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 35.4% (2001)

Family Income Gini

44.6 (2001)
47.7 (1996)

Below Poverty

48% (2000 est.)