Cameroon is a country of Africa
with a surface area of 475,442 km² (density of 44.55 inhab./km²). The population of Cameroon is 21,180,885 inhabitants in the last census.The capital of Cameroon is the city of Yaoundé which has 2,440,462 inhabitants. The President of the Republic is Paul Biya.
"Peace work homeland"
Cameroon or Republic of Cameroon is a country in Central Africa sharing borders with Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo. It opens on the Gulf of Guinea and therefore on the Atlantic Ocean.
Cameroon is a member of the International Organization of La Francophonie.
Cameroon at a glance
Administrative divisions: 10 regions, 58 departments
Population: more than 15 million inhabitants
Main Languages: French and English (official languages), Peul, Ewondo
Main Religions: christianity, islam
Current President: Paul Biya
Current Prime Minister: Philemon Yang
Currency: CFA Franc
Conversion into euro: 100 CFA francs = 0, 15 euro
Tourism: If the south of the country is relatively safe, it is not recommended to travel to the extreme north and the border areas with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic due to frequent attacks and the risk of kidnapping.
From the Sahara to the mangrove
Bordered by the Sahara to the north and the equatorial forest to the south, Cameroon is characterized by the diversity of its landscapes and its climate.
This triangle-shaped country ends at the northeast by Lake Chad, an endorheic lake with no opening to the sea.
The Lake Chad is an enormous reservoir fed mainly by the Chari River, which originates in the Central African Republic and its tributary, the Logone, which serves as a natural border between Cameroon and Chad.
For several decades, the lake has been severely reduced due to low rainfall combined with intensive use of its waters for irrigation of land. In about fifty years, it has lost 90% of its surface area. Several highly controversial projects are being studied in order to dig a canal more than 1,300 kilometers to link the Oubangui (Democratic Republic of the Congo) with the lake.
The Lake Chad is not only important for the four countries bordering it (Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad) but also for local and even the endemic fauna and flora. The loss of volume but also the increase of the salinity of the waters jeopardize this ecosystem.
Cameroon has four different geographical areas:
• The plains in the north of the country, also called "northern lowlands", extend from the northern Adamaoua plateau to the Lake Chad depression. They include the basin of Bénoué, the plain of Diamaré dotted with inselbergs, the isolated hills, and the plain of Chad which ends with flooded land and marshes.
• The plateaus that extend from Adamaoua to the south of the country and include the Adamaoua Plateau proper forming a cliff dominating the basin of Benue and the Mandara Mountains forming the northern part of the line of Cameroon, a northeast/southwest rift of volcanic origin which culminates at Mount Cameroon (4,070 meters above sea level) before ending in the Gulf of Guinea in a series of aligned islands.
• The plateau of the south whose altitude oscillates between 650 and 900 meters of altitude
• The coastal strip of plains between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
Each area is characterized by specific vegetation. :
• the extreme north of the country is covered by a thorny steppe
• the north is covered with a grassy savanna
• the Adamaoua plateau is covered with wooded savanna
• the south and east are covered by a high and humid forest
• the west is covered with gallery forests (the tops of the trees meet over the rivers)
• the coastline is bordered by a relatively high mangrove (specific marsh ecosystem).
The climate of Cameroon is also diversified:
• Equatorial climate with regular rainfall throughout the year and therefore absence of a true dry season, humidity close to saturation and few variations of temperatures with an average of 30 ° all year, day and night: coastal plain, western uplands and southern plateaus.
• Tropical rainy climate with abundant rainfall, a dry season from October to January and an average temperature of 20 °: Adamaoua plateau.
• Sudanian tropical climate with six months of dry season, rainfall still abundant but irregular and temperatures sometimes very hot: basin of Bénoué.
• Sudano-Sahelian tropical climate with a dry season of 8 months and little rain: north of the country.
Cameroon is crossed by many lakes and rivers which, depending on the region, can have a high flow which allows the country to have sufficient water. The country also has some remarkable waterfalls including the Lobé Falls, near the seaside resort of Kribi.
A settlement from the Paleolithic period
The settlement of Cameroon probably began more than 30,000 years ago, during the Palaeolithic. Discovered in the years 1989, the Shum-Laka cave located in the west of the country has provided valuable data to archaeologists. The site was occupied roughly from 30,000 until the 3rd millennium BC. The pottery shards, the cut and the polished stone tools, the burials of 18 hominids as well as numerous animal bones have made it possible to reconstitute the daily life of the inhabitants of Cameroon over millennia.
the prehistoric vestiges have also been discovered throughout the territory.
A multi-ethnic population
During the second millennium, the semi-nomadic Bantu ethnic groups originally settled in northwestern Cameroon, straddling the border of Nigeria, began their slow migration from Grassland to the east and south of the continent in order to find a new agricultural land. The Bamilékés, Bamons and Tikars settle in the highlands of the country and still form important communities in the country today.
At the same time, the Saos, probably from the Near East, occupied the area around the Lake Chad and organized themselves into city-states protected by thick earthen walls. This civilization is characterized by a strong crossbreeding that would confirm the mixture of nomadic races to the lighter skin and tribes with the black skin installed long before their arrival in this region. They subsisted mainly from the agriculture and the fishing.
In the 5th century BC, Hannon, a Carthaginian navigator left Gibraltar and along the African coast to explore new lands and settle colonies. That is how he would have reached the coast of Cameroon. According to some historians, he would have nicknamed Mount Cameroon, a volcanic mountain still active, the "Char of the Gods". This volcano was formed several million years ago, following the separation of Africa and South America. However, the passage from Hannon to Cameroon has never been confirmed.
The history of Cameroon remains unclear, although it is certain that the country is the cradle of the Bantu ethnic groups.
It also seems certain that a state develops from the 8th century in northern Chad, the Muslim Kingdom of Kanem-Magui. He expanded his possessions and appropriated the lands of the Saos in the 11th century before settling on the lands of Bornou, driven by the Boulala of Chad. It gives birth to a new state, the Kingdom of Kanem-Bornou. A large part of Cameroon is integrated in this kingdom and thus the Mandara Kingdom founded in the 14th century in the eponymous mountains and the Kotoko principalities of northern Cameroon are vassalized by the Kanem-Bornou Empire.
On the eve of the arrival of the Europeans in Cameroon, the country is divided into several parts, the north is dominated by the Kanem-Bornou, and the western mountains are occupied by the Bamouns who founded a kingdom in the 14th century. That the forests along the coasts in the south and east of the country are inhabited by the Bassa and the Beti, the people organized in villages each occupied by a family in the broad sense.
The arrival of Europeans
The Portuguese on their way to the Indies discover Cameroon which they call the "Shrimp River (Camarão)" in the 15th century and set up trading posts on the coast to enjoy its riches, mainly ivory and rubber. Cameroonians will also be victims of the slave trade. The slaves and the resources are exchanged for the alcohol and some manufactured goods through the Douala people installed along the coast. Europeans do not permanently settle on these hostile lands because of malaria epidemics and marshy areas that make colonization difficult.
In the meantime, the Fulani, a nomadic Muslim people, settled in Adamaoua and opposed the Bamoun kingdom, which also tries to expand. The northern part of the country as well as all the Hausa states (of Chadian language) are annexed to the Peul Empire of Sokoto. The different cities of this empire regained their independence only in the 19th century before being occupied by the Europeans.
Indeed, the British landed in Cameroon in 1827 and missionaries evangelized the populations of the littoral. The United Kingdom opposed to slavery attempted to put an end to the slave trade, which displeased the Doualas who benefited from this "trade".
It is in this context that the French and the Germans will in turn arrive in Cameroon.
The Germans set up a trading post in 1868 and concluded treaties with the Doualas in 1884 which guaranteed Germany's sovereignty over the country renamed Kamerun. The town of Buéa at the foot of Mount Cameroon is chosen as the capital and the governor built an impressive Bavarian style palace there.
The Germans extend their protectorate to the Lake Chad (north) and along the Sangha (south-east) by the armed conflicts. They build large plantations to export the cocoa, the coffee, the bananas and the rubber. They also improve the communications by building the roads, the railways and the ports.
But this protectorate is not at all rest and the Germans must regularly face revolts of the Douala who do not appreciate their expansion in the hinterland. They nevertheless enlarge their possessions by annexing part of French possessions of the Congo.
The German colony of Cameroon was annihilated during the First World War when, in January 1916, the Allied troops seized Yaounde, which was then a German military post.
The country is divided into two mandates entrusted to France and the United Kingdom by the League of Nations.
Only the northwestern and southwestern regions of present-day Cameroon are not part of French Cameroon. The country is not, however, included in the colonies of French Equatorial Africa and obtains the status of "Commissariat of the Autonomous Republic". French is taught in schools and Cameroonians are subject to French laws.
The country benefits from a better health system and a dynamic economy that enhances its natural resources.
At the end of the Second World War, the status of French Cameroon changed again and the country was placed under the supervision of the United Nations while remaining an "associate territory" of the French Union regrouping the metropolis, the Dom- Tom and the states under protectorate or under mandate.
France pursues its policy of economic development by diversifying the resources.
On the road to the independence
Cameroon got its internal autonomy in 1956, the first step towards the independence of the country. In 1958, the French Union was dissolved to become the French community but Cameroon was not one of its members and became the State of Cameroon. This state became a republic and gained independence on January 1st 1960.
At the same time, British Cameroon is divided into two regions, Northern Cameroon and Southern Cameroon, governed by natives according to their own customs. They must nevertheless respect the great principles of the British Empire, which also benefits from the resources and the trade of the country.
Following the example of French Cameroon, the British mandate was placed under the tutelage of the United Nations after the Second World War.
Despite the refusal of the British to grant independence to these regions in 1960, a referendum was held the following year. Northern Cameroon chose its attachment to Nigeria while Southern Cameroon became part of the Republic of Cameroon which became a multiparty federal republic on October 1st 1961.
Supported by France, Ahmadou Ahidjo of a Muslim and populist origin became the first president of the country. Very soon, the government becomes a one-party (Cameroon National Union) and the successive elections are tainted by suspicions of fraud. The PDC (Party of Cameroonian Democrats), the only party that runs against the president in the 1964 elections, emerges victorious but this victory is canceled to "maintain national unity" while the protests are violently suppressed, the protesters being deported to political prisons.
Ahidjo passes the relay to Paul Biya in 1982 and exiles in Senegal after remaining 22 years on the power.
Paul Biya is still the President of the Republic of Cameroon.
Since 1990, Cameroon is again a multi-party republic but the political regime of Paul Biya remains authoritarian and the elections that carry the president back every seven years are also suspected of fraud, especially since the constitution only provides for two successive terms. The President's immense personal wealth, the corruption within the ruling class, the restriction of the freedoms of the people and the violations of the human rights are condemned by the international community and notably by Amnesty International.
Cameroon is a democratic republic of dualist parliamentary type. However, the president and the prime minister, appointed by the president, hold the executive power and anyone opposing the regime runs the death penalty
The legislative power is entrusted to the Parliament constituted of the National Assembly and the Senate.
The judiciary is largely entrusted to traditional chiefs who apply customary law to preserve Aboriginal culture.
A diversified economy but a great poverty
Cameroon has benefited from its statute of mandate country of the League to boost its economic resources. The country is prosperous and its growth rate is around 7% until 1985 when the fall in coffee and oil prices, in particular, leads to inflation. Nowadays, Cameroon is emerging from the crisis, relying on the diversification of the economy. The unemployment reaches 30% of the population according to a CIA report and 70% of workers earn less than the minimum wage. This situation is pushing many Cameroonians to live from a parallel economy made up of small clandestine businesses.
However, the State has launched the ambitious new projects such as the construction of motorways or dams requiring skilled labor. The vocational training is offered to young workers.
The primary sector provides the employment to 60% of the population and accounts for just over 20% of GDP. The main sectors concerned are the fisheries, the cocoa, the coffee, the cotton, the bananas, the wood and the rubber.
The secondary sector accounts for 33% of GDP and the country produces large quantities of aluminum, sugar and palm oil.
The rapidly depleted oil, the textile market, the shipyards, the chemical, the mechanical and the electrical industries are also contributing to the expansion of this sector.
Finally, the tertiary sector, and especially the tourism, has been growing for several years, notably thanks to the improvement of the communication network. However, much remains to be done in this area.
A multi-cultural society
The total population of Cameroon is slightly above the 20 million people, the vast majority of whom live outside the urban areas, mostly along the coast, in the western part of the country and in the northwestern and the Far North.
Almost 70 per cent of Cameroonians live below the poverty line and many of them are malnourished and have no access to electricity or potable water despite the introduction of a policy aimed at improve the security and the living conditions of the population.
With a high level of the unemployment in urban areas, Cameroon is witnessing an exodus to the countryside, which is still impoverishing the local population. Moreover, the country is going through several health crises due in particular to the malaria and the AIDS.
There are nearly 250 different ethnic groups in five groups, each with its own culture in Cameroon (the highland dwellers, the inhabitants of the tropical coastal forests, the inhabitants of the tropical forests in the south, the inhabitants of the semi-arid regions of the center and the north and the thnic Kirdis living in the north of the country).
The ethnic groups most represented in the Cameroonian population are Bamilékés and Bamons who live in Grassland (25%), the Bantu ethnicities Beti and Fangs who occupy the center, the east and the south of the country (19%), Sawas from which the Doualas live, which live near the coast (15%) and the Fulani (10%).
There are as many, if not more, languages spoken than the ethnicities in Cameroon. The official languages remained French (spoken by 60% of Cameroonians) and English (spoken by 24% of the population), but Fulul is the main mother tongue (21%).
Although the early peoples living in Cameroon were animists (belief in a vital force animating living beings and nature in a broad sense) and venerating their ancestors, the arrival of Muslim peoples and European Catholic and Protestant colonizers have diversified the religions that coexist without the problems in the country.
The majority of Cameroonians are Christians, while Muslims represent 20% of the population. 5% call themselves animists but this number is underestimated because many Christians or Muslims have kept their rites and beliefs.
Cameroonian cuisine is poor in meat and most dishes consist of fish, shrimp, cereals, tubers and fruit. The recipes are varied and differ from one ethnic group to the next, such as ndole made from smoked fish or meat, plants, peanut paste and spices accompanied by rice or cassava.
Cameroonians drink mainly water, millet or sorghum beer and palm wine.
Some areas of Cameroon are not recommended to tourists because of the risk of terrorist attacks. These are the Far North and the border areas of the North and the Adamaoua Plateau. The same applies to the Bakassi Peninsula in the hands of the smugglers and the Korup National Park.
Even in the areas of lower risk, it is recommended to travel only in groups and only during the day.
The vigilance is widespread throughout the country and mostly in the cities where the foreigners are easy prey for offenders who commit the robberies sometimes with violence or even the murders. The visible signs of wealth should therefore not be visible and should not be used during the night or in neighborhoods with no guide.
The traffic on the roads is dangerous both because of the risky behaviors of drivers and because of the road cutters operating day and night. It is therefore necessary to organize the convoy movements and not to have large sums of money. Similarly, one should avoid sailing off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, the territory of pirates.
In terms of health, the yellow fever vaccine is compulsory, but it is also recommended to get vaccinated against the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, the tuberculosis, the typhoid fever, the viral hepatitis A and B, the meningitis Bacterial and the rabies. The meningococcal meningitis, the poliomyelitis, the avian influenza, the HIV infections or the sexually transmitted diseases are common diseases in Cameroon.
Protect against mosquito bites as much as possible due to the risk of malaria and dengue fever. The strict hygiene measures (washing hands, avoiding raw food, drinking only bottled water, avoiding swimming in stagnant waters, barefoot walks and stray animals, etc.) must be be observed to protect against the cholera.
A decent outfit is recommended (no shorts or short skirts).
One should also avoid tasting odontol, an artisanal alcohol based on palm wine prized by the Cameroonians but which can be toxic or even fatal.
Cameroon is not yet very open to tourism and the reception infrastructures can be rudimentary. The country is not lacking in attractiveness because it offers visitors a multitude of faces and ecosystems, between the mangroves, the rainforest, the sahel, the remarkable waterfalls and the volcanic mountain range.
At the level of the cultural and historical heritage of the country, Yaounde the capital and Foumban, the Cité des Arts are unavoidable stages. And to enjoy your stay, the seaside resort of Kribi offers its vast sandy beaches and the waterfalls.